On the useless theater of the State of the Union

I hate SOTU night, almost as much as I hate the Correspondents Dinner. Two posts perfectly exemplify why. First, Charles Pierce:

It’s an Event for the sake of being an Event, the White House Correspondents Dinner in Founding Father drag. Worse, it’s just another television extravaganza. It has more in common with the Super Bowl than with anything else, beginning with the fact that the SOTU (Make it stop!) Pregame Show began at about seven o’clock this morning, and that the Postgame analysis will go on well into the whiskey hours of the early morning. The State Of The Union and its attendant ballyhoo is now the clearest evidence we have that American self-government, and the politics that are at its heart, has become an ongoing piece of audience-participation performance art that has very little to do with the actual power in the country, and whose wielding it, and for what purposes.

Next, Alex Pereene:

Political speechwriting is an exercise in the proper arrangement of cliches and platitudes, with a bit of “messaging” of policy ideas to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Speeches like the one the president will deliver tonight are designed to deliver pleasant inanities (The State of the Union is Strong) and sell certain carefully audience-tested proposals as vaguely (or misleadingly) as possible. The State of the Union is less written than it is designed, structured and organized around applause prompts and camera cues.



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