On paper the State of the Union Address has been from the President, the Chief Executive, to the other branches of Government, telling them how the country was faring.
The People, the object of the Constitution, (don’t forget) only learned what the President had to say about the State of the Union through the Media, who, for most of those years, served as a go-between the People the Government. A quaint notion, I’m sure.
For the longest time, into my lifetime, the print media, newspapers, were the sole means of communicating to the People what the President said.
Then came radio (1920s) and now television, since the 1950s.
I can’t say when the SOTU became little more than a banquet speech by the company president to his board of directors, but for the most part it was rarely directed to the People as a vehicle to either encourage, persuade, or fire them up. Ronald Reagan stands out in this regard because in his eight years in the White House, every thing he achieved with Congress’ help was done with the opposition wing in charge of the Congress. Reagan’s only ally was the People, and he encouraged them to encourage, or threaten, their Congressional representatives to give the President what he asked.
It largely worked, for it took the Democrats 20 years to undo most of what Reagan accomplished, while it took Trump only two years to undo the bulk of Obama’s handiwork.
In retrospect, Reagan’s was a kinder, gentler time.
I haven’t watched a SOTU live in thirty years, since Reagan, although I have seen many of the snippets of past presidents. I had no intention to watch this one, except my son encouraged me to because he thought something big might happen, you know, like a 5-car pileup at Richmond Raceway. With casualties.
Everyone is pushing for casualties these days, it seems. And who can blame them since it seems first school kids, and now unborn babies have been added to the list of people with bulls-eyes on their backs. My son, nearing 49, was hoping to see chairs being thrown across the aisle. And if looks could kill, at least one side of that aisle seemed to wish they could put their finger on a trigger somehow.
He wasn’t expecting this at a Trump speech:
While I’ve always thought Donald Trump could match Ronald Reagan for communication with “the People”, especially in much tougher times, as he proved in 2016, and has continued since, taking his message directly to the people, still I wasn’t all that interested in sitting through an hour of his speeches. Like Preacher Gorsuch, I already knew what he was going to say.
But at last night’s State of the Union address, (we haven’t seen ratings’ numbers yet) President Trump was unambiguous in his indifference to the rest of the Government’s bigwigs even being there.
He really wasn’t talking to them, but to the American people. He wasn’t trying to persuade Congress to do anything, but instead asking the American people to force Congress to do many things, and then offering them a glimpse of just who their Chosen really are. He wanted the American people to know how high the stakes are, and what kind of people he’s had to deal with. Between Charles Schumer’s frozen smirk, which he had to practice for hours (If you’ve ever witnessed a gang fight, both sides standing face-to-face, just anticipating the wrong word, or a raised stick, to set them off…”false bravado” I think they call it…) and Nancy Pelosi, sitting behind the President, chewing her cud and probably doing the New York Times Crossword inside that bound copy of the President’s speech) I think”the People” got the look of the State of the Union the President wanted to convey.
And there was something unmistakable Pavlovian in the way he had crowd standing, then sitting, then standing and sitting again, furrowed-brow frowns, then high fives and giggles, especially the gals in the white jackets, many of whom regrettably found themselves in the midst of a sorority pep rally when Trump suddenly mentioned employment figures for woman, many of the girls not knowing that those high numbers were not for women in their (political) class, but the other class. Trump actually had many of them chanting “USA, USA”, forgetting that Colin Kaepernick Oath Card in their wallet.
Many of those babes will regret having dressed in those tacky uniforms. And someone somewhere is already asking, “Whose dumb idea was this, anyway.”
The President successfully conveyed to the People what needs to be done from Border Security to Taxation to Health Care, and now it’s up to them to convey to their representatives in Congress what they want done.
Congress’ performance will be graded again in about 18 months.
Good job, Mr President. The People read you loud and clear. Everyone else? Doesn’t matter.
A lot of these women will wake this morning, like Christine Balsey Ford did 35 years ago, sobered up, and think, “Someone had to have assaulted me last night.”