29 January 2008

State of the Anachronism

The State of the Union address is a peculiar American tradition. Or, more aptly, a peculiar American law? After all it is required by Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution.

It is not quite a ceremony and not quite a speech. It is... an address. It is also really awkward, if you haven't noticed:

1. There are no, or very few surprises. The gist of the address is passed to the press beforehand. But unlike traditional ceremonies the verbatim script isn't available beforehand. As such...
2. The opposing party never quite knows when to applaud and when to moan. This is one of those events where you get judged not just on whether you clap or not but whether you stood to clap or yawned while clapping. You have to be on your toes, because...
3. The President uses turns of phrase to try to trick you into clapping, or by your not clapping, make you look insensitive. Since there is no rebuttal until after the entire speech is over and the President has signed 100 or more of those little pamphlets that don't close all the way, the attention depraved public sees only your immediate response to the Presidents remarks. You're either with him or against him.

So I've come up with a couple suggestions, especially if you are one of those important people that the camera pans to while the President talks about your issue:

1. Don't read the pamphlet. You look like you are either bored or sleeping.
2. Be prepared to clap. If you wait until everyone else on your side of the aisle starts, you look like a reactionary.
3. After the address, have your pamphlet ready and push your way to the ailse as the President leaves. Then go straight home to Ebay... wait there are already 100 of those things for sale. Darn it!

1 comment:

Chris said...

I don't watch the State of the Union both because there's nothing you haven't heard and because the clapping every 30 seconds is maddening if you're actually trying to listen to the speech.

Also, two tidbits: the Drudge Report did have the speech up about 30 minutes before it began so there really are no surprises, and there were 71 rounds of applause during the speech. 71!? Absurd.

I like your take on the intricacies of clapping during the State of the Union, but I hate politics exactly because of this kind of thing. Arguments and criticism get unbelievably petty. It's dumb.