S-O-T-U...Much Ado about Nothing

Dear President Obama,

Under Article II(3) of the U.S. Constitution, the president is required “from time to time” to inform Congress of the state-of-the-union and make recommendations as to what should be done. Early in President Obama's speech on 20 January, he announced that he would send Congress a budget. According to Article I(7), however, all bills for raising revenue (actually the budget since spending is a determinate) are to originate in the House of representatives, with the Senate proposing or concurring with amendments.

S-O-T-U could be done without the ballyhoo connected to a speech delivered to Congress, the SCOTUS justices, the military head honchos, a balcony with “guests” of the president's wife, a royal promenade in and out, etc. The state-of-the-union address, as is, comprises a circus meant to give everyone involved—with video coverage throughout—an extra 15 minutes of fame. It could be far more concise and detailed if simply delivered in a document and presented to everyone involved, who could then advance it to the media of choice for nationwide perusal.

Until the early twentieth century (pre-Wilson), most presidents merely submitted a written report. With the advent of radio and TV, the temptation to use this constitutional requirement as a purely political ploy has been too great to overcome, thus the s-o-t-u propaganda-machine, complete with all the trappings of a monarchy, even to the bellowing of the sergeant-of-arms that his highness is about to favor the unwashed with his presence, sort of like “h-e-r-e c-o-m-e-s B-a-r-a-c-k, reminiscent of the Carson talk-show intro back in the day.

I stopped listening/viewing this circus some time ago, preferring to simply read the transcript although, admittedly, watching and listening to Ronald Reagan was rewarding just as an opportunity to observe an art-form, actual rhetoric as opposed to mere speechifying. By comparison, Obama has about as much speaking ability and charisma as a bear in hibernation, but then so have most other presidents. Watching grown people clap and act like jacks-in-the-boxes is simply comedic.

I wondered if Nancy Pelosi might not break something in her frantic up-and-down gyrations in a speech I at least partly watched a few years ago. One watched then to see if Veep Biden fell asleep. I tuned in the other night (after reading a book with ballgame ended, sound muted) at 9:54 to catch the end (I thought) of the great speech of 2015 and determined to suffer it through until it ended at 10:11—seventeen boring minutes in which nothing was speechified about the state of the union, while a SCOTUS person slept a bit, or so I thought.

What I heard was what one might expect a coach to say to his team—35 points down—at halftime. It was a colossal pep-talk and had little or nothing to do with how substantive things stand in the nation. Obama spoke of exterminating partisanship and gridlock but has already established gridlock with his executive orders and veto-threats. He spoke of comforting grieving families but didn't mention the humongous lie he perpetrated on the grieving families vis-a-vis the Benghazi massacre. He heralded same-sex marriage as being promoted from a wedge issue to “a story of freedom.” Perversion as freedom? Egad!

Predictably, Obama brought up Ferguson and New York and the son who can't walk around without being harassed, but not his hometown, Chicago, where murders happen well over once a day and “sons” are killed in gangs and girls in cross-fires. Ironically, it has just been announced that the army of prosecutors Obama and Holder sent to Ferguson to create civil-rights charges against Officer Wilson found no grounds for any action.

Obama said that every child should know that he/she matters. Well...as Gomer would say—Shazzam! At least he didn't mention Trayvon Martin, his son if he had one. As a railroader with layovers in Chattanooga back in the day, I discovered that a white guy had better be careful where he walked, although the worst that happened to me was being the target of rock-throwers.

Both the substance and the delivery of this sophomoric 17-minute epilogue/sermon were poorly chosen, poorly done, respectively. I've been though the transcript, a hodgepodge of two chickens in every pot and two cars in every garage. I didn't see the term al Qaeda. What I saw was the same old class-war approach and I don't remember seeing the term Benghazi, either, or IRS or Fast-and-Furious or the salvation of Libya...but in my scan I might have missed some things.

But it was great political theater...meaning nothing, except, maybe that the emperor had/has no clothes.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark