Our modern penchant for turning common phrases into acronyms, abetted by the Internet and the ubiquity of the cell phone, has struck this institution at last. I can only wish it had struck it more lethally.
In case you're wondering what makes this annual trial of Congress's patience "mandatory," here's the only phrase from the Constitution that bears on it:
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;...
Note that it doesn't say "annually," but rather "from time to time." (Neither does it say "submit bills," another presidential usurpation few persons have deigned to expound on, but rather "recommend to their Consideration.") This is in keeping with the political state of the nation when the Constitution was written:
- News traveled either on foot or on horseback;
- The president was the only elected federal official "on duty" continuously throughout the year;
- Congress was an assembly of men with other trades, most of whom had to travel considerable distances and endure forbidding conditions to reach the District of Columbia;
- At that time, only the president had anything resembling a working staff capable of gathering information about "the State of the Union" or anything else.
It made sense in those circumstances that Congressmen should look to the president for information. Today it's a laughable conceit, especially given the sizes of Congressmen's staffs and budgets. And so the "annual State of the Union address," which was nowhere specified to be either annual or a public address festooned with the pomp and circumstance of a grand gala, has descended into presidential self-glorification, partisan bloviation, and anesthetic lavage for the public's ears.
I can't bear to listen to SOTU speeches, no matter who gives them. I might have listened to one, long ago...but the memory, if not wholly false, is encrusted with so many garish, bizarre, and disconnected images that I'm probably imagining the whole event. Besides, we never had a president named Alfred E. Newman, did we?
With The Won at the lectern, knowing his proclivities and agenda, there's less point to the SOTU than ever. Barack Hussein Obama is incapable of admitting to error, adjusting his priorities, or telling the truth. And while it would be tempting to wallow in some of the more lurid rumors about his non-political conduct -- if any of them are true, they would certainly help to explain his venomously irrational nature and his hatred toward freedom and capitalism -- the damage he's doing politically has left me incapable of viewing him as anything other than an enemy of the United States: a "Manchurian Candidate," put into his position specifically to engineer America's destruction.
The mystery of Obama's elevation to the presidency will fascinate historians of future centuries...if the havoc he's wrought, and continues to wreak, upon the grandest and most glorious sociopolitical undertaking in the history of Man leaves any historians alive and free to ponder him. Barring impeachment and conviction or a most fortunate accident -- hopefully one that claims Joseph R. Biden's life at the same instant -- we'll have him to "enjoy" for four more years.
Sigh. Sometimes the only recourse is to drink. Pity I gave it up for Lent.