I have to confess that I did not watch the State of the Union speech. I will read the highlights. There are too many reasons not to watch the State of the Union.
First, half of the time is taken up by the entrance, the exit, and the applause. Maybe it is more than half. If you are really interested in what is being said, you can probably read a transcript in 20 minutes.
Second, I don’t really want to look at the expressions of the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, who are sitting behind the president. It doesn’t seem to matter who they are. I just tend not to like them. I like them less than the average politician, which is pretty bad.
Third, I don’t believe a word that is coming out of the president’s mouth. It is not that everything he says is untrue, but anything that I am not sure about, he is probably lying. I am not just talking about Obama. I am also referring to his predecessors. It seems you have to basically be a liar to get to the top position in politics.
A fourth reason I don’t like the whole event is that it is all so phony. Sometimes just one side will stand and applaud. Other times, the whole room will stand and applaud. It is a show for the American people to make them believe that they have real disagreements over critical issues.
The two major parties will disagree over whether to have 50,000 troops in Afghanistan or 70,000 troops (or pick a number). They will disagree on whether the tax rate should be 36% or 39%. They will disagree over cultural issues, just to get their bases impassioned.
But then the two parties will agree and hold hands on certain issues such as fighting terrorists, saving Social Security, getting benefits for veterans, and saving puppies from falling trees. While I may have exaggerated on that last item, Obama could have mentioned it in his speech and everyone would have felt compelled to stand.
The politicians of both major parties are in complete agreement over making government bigger and more powerful. They will frame it in different ways to appeal to their bases, but don’t be fooled by the rhetoric.
And that leads me to my fifth point about why I don’t pay attention to the State of the Union speech. Most of what is said, even if it were well intentioned, will likely never happen anyway.
I can remember Bush talking about partially privatizing Social Security. It was all rhetoric in an attempt to placate his base. He knew this would never happen and he had no intention of it happening.
The State of the Union speech is nothing more than campaign propaganda. The president will attempt to take all of the credit for all of the good things happening. He will also blame all of the bad things on the opposing party for being “obstructionist”, or difficult to work with, or too rigid.
It doesn’t seem to matter who is president. And even if the same party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, the president will still try to blame the problems on the other party. It happened under both Obama and Bush.
I will read the headlines to make sure I didn’t miss anything important, but that is unlikely. It is even more unlikely given that Obama is a lame duck now. Even if he had anything interesting to say, I wouldn’t believe it anyway.