Every year without fail someone at NRO complains about the existence of the State of the Union address.
Last year it was Charles Cooke who wrote, “As a matter of basic constitutional propriety, there is something unutterably rotten about the State of the Union.” Cooke concluded by asking, “But why, one has to wonder, does Congress continue to applaud the charade?”
This year the honors belong to Kevin D. Williamson:
Somebody should kill this hideous and depraved dog-and-pony show. If not the next Republican president, then the speaker of the House, who has it within his power to simply decline to proffer an invitation to address Congress.
Does Williamson honestly think Donald Trump, who prior to his presidential campaign was best known to the general public for hosting NBC’s The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, would do away with The State of the Union? Not only would Trump not abandon the SOTU, there are good odds that he would be the first President to drop a f-bomb in the middle of it. Ted Cruz might not resort to such profanity, but would someone so in love with the sound of his own voice deprive the nation the opportunity of hearing its melodic tones?
As for Congress, don’t count on Paul Ryan to stop inviting the President of the United States to come to Capitol Hill. After all, the Speaker sits behind and above the President. What Speaker is going to deprive the American public from gazing into his eyes for an hour? What Congressman doesn’t want to see him or herself on TV with the chance to trend on Twitter?
Like it or not, we have long lived in a visual world which has only been augmented by YouTube and cell phone videos. For better or for worse, political theater is more important than ever. It is simply a question of knowing how to use it. Several years ago, I suggested that Republicans walk out on Obama’s State of the Union en masse. They would be villified for it, but Republicans are villified for not walking out of the SOTU en masse. It would be a spectacle that no one would soon forget.
Conservatives can yearn for the Jeffersonian romanticism of a written State of the Union all they want. The State of the Union address and the pomp & circumstance that surrounds it isn’t going anywhere. Besides if Williamson (or for that matter Cooke) objected to the SOTU they wouldn’t watch it much less Tweet about it in the first place.
Speaking of Twitter, I will be live tweeting Obama’s final SOTU address at #SOTU. My Twitter handle is @aargold24.