Didn't watch the SOTU last night. Didn't plan to, didn't want to. Why not? Because unless you plan on using the SOTU for a drinking game then it's pointless, because the SOTU is complete and utter bullshit, especially when your President is George W. Bush.
Think I'm wrong? Well let's look at the SOTU in its historical perspective. The SOTU is primarily an American tradition rather than an actual policy. According to Article II Section 3 of the Constitution:
"He [The President] shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Got that? From 'time to time' the President shall fill in the Congress with a status report. Jefferson, thinking that the whole spectacle was too monarchical, just sent a letter to Congress, and it wasn't given in person till Woodrow Wilson. It wasn't even called 'State of the Union' till FDR. So how did it transform from a letter to the pageant that's its become today, with all the standing and sitting, the march to the podium, and cameo appearances? In one word--television.
Far from being an informative speech, the contemporary SOTU is a political propaganda-circle jerk-three ring circus where the President is the ring master in chief, broadcast out of DC like the 700 Club except it's not asking you to believe in God, it's asking you to believe in the Prez. It's a way for the President to trick the population into believing that everything is A-ok, and that he's doing a bang up job. Think that's not true? Well tell me, when was the last time a President went up there and said something honest? I don't mean something self-serving or vapid like when GWB said, "America's addicted to oil" (That's like Frank Lucas telling 1970s Harlem that it has a heroin problem), but I mean something like, "Hey, you know guys, this economy's pretty screwed up, and well, I messed up on that. Mah bad." No, we never hear that. Instead we get Officer Barbrady standing in front of a burning pile of feces yelling, "nothing to see here!" And if there is something bad, well it's never for lack of trying is it? Nope, it's always because the other party stood in the way, and gosh darn it, he needs to tell us that. He's trying, really really REAAAALLLYYY hard to help us, but those do-do head Democrats just stand in his way. Boo hoo hoo.
Of course he's not the only one in on Operation Brain-Drain. Everyone else is in on the act, with the all the standing up, sitting down, applauding nonsense. I went to see Metallica in concert and I didn't get up as much. Hell I don't get up and sit down as much in a game of musical chairs. And do they really expecting us to believe that they're applauding him? How much f'ing enthusiasm can you gather for an economic stimulus package? The last time I got that excited it was at my bachelor party, er, I mean wedding. It's all disingenuous. All your individual Congressman is saying is either, "Hey! Look at me! I'm all about that! So vote for me if you like that!" or "Hey! Look at me! Grrr, I hate that, and vote for me if you hate that too!"
That's not to say that we shouldn't watch it, or at least try to pay attention. Anyone remember the Axis of Evil speech during Bush's 2002 SOTU? I mean it turned out that it was complete BS, but, in retrospect, it was BS we should have paid attention to.
But beyond that, Bush has chatted us up for two hours a year for the past eight years, that's sixteen hours wasted from our lives, and for what? Has anything besides his war really come to fruition? Does any of this really matter, besides providing Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough the means to put food on the table? Not really. And this year really irked me because FOX canceled Prison Break just to put this garbage on. I mean, come on! I'm sure this is the episode where they escape! And what's going to happen to Sucre!
Yeah, yeah I know. Prison Break sucks, we'll never find out who's running the Company (Dick Cheney), and inevitably they'll just get sent to another prison (hopefully in female prison in Brazil Isla De Thong), but it's a fun show with suspense, tension, with a hint of comedy. I like it.
But that's beyond the point. The point is that the SOTU has become obsolete with the advent of 24 hour a day political coverage. Both the SOTU and the Democratic response are leaked in advance and are just political propaganda espoused by both sides with nothing remotely new or entertaining, just tedious and dumb. Either we need to roll back this tradition to the days of Jefferson, or, better yet, the president needs to spice it up a bit. My suggestion? The president and his cabinet are trapped in a prison and the president's wife is held hostage and he has to break the VP out in 90 minutes or she gets it. And Harrison Ford is always the president. Now that would be newsworthy.
Oh and watch Prison Break. It's a good show.