State of the Union addresses need to go
The annual spectacle of an American president reciting a speech that purports to be about the state of the country – but is really a laundry list of legislative proposals wrapped in partisan frippery – has been visited upon us.
While presidents are constitutionally required to provide an annual report to Congress, for a century, it was in report form – no personal appearance or speechifying occurred.
That changed with Woodrow Wilson, who decided to deliver the SOTU in person, and make it a political rally, rather than a required function. Wilson’s idea? To build a “personal presidency with the people.”
Sounds a bit like a personality cult. But Wilson’s vanity project has stuck with us, becoming worse over time, to the point where it’s both unwatchable, and irrelevant.
Or, as National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote:
It’s the most nauseating display in American public life — and I write that as someone who has just returned from a pornographers’ convention.
It’s worse than the Oscars.
It takes real effort to be worse than the uniquely horrifying, shallow, and tone-deaf Oscars. But the SOTU has done it easily. Time to put this monstrosity back in its constitutional box, and back on paper where it started…and where it belongs.