The newsies and Internetters seem a bit excited over the upcoming State Of The Union speech. Me, not so much.
Historically, I'm not alone. The majority of SOTU reports have been handed to Congress in written form like so many schoolboy essays. After George Washington, the next President to call both houses of Congress together and give them a talk about how things were going was Woodrow Wilson, who assured them, "The country, I am thankful to say, is at peace with all the world, and many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age of settled peace and good will." Less than eight months later, World War One began. By the Spring of 1917, Mr. Wilson and Congress joined in. Cordiality was set aside for the duration.
The modern State Of The Union is a talk by a guy who -- no matter his party or ambitions -- does not make laws, who must hand his treaties over to Congress to decide yea or nay and who manages -- if he is lucky! -- to stay barely even with national and world affairs. It's a speech from someone riding a bull, trying to assure Congress and the country that everything is, if not well, at least headed that way. It's a brave and very human effort, but the content means much less than the tone, and the tone is well-nigh predetermined. An age of settled peace and goodwill will be foreshadowed.
Mr. Trump will make his speech and the people who favor him will declare it remarkable. The people who don't like him will compare it to talks by various infamous dictators. 21st-Century politics as usual.
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