After hearing don’t-remember-how-many State of the Union speeches by presidents, there’s no excitement in this veteran head. The words sound nice, especially about working together for the good of all Americans, but the follow-through too often is lacking.
We don’t like television shows with the fake laughter. We don’t like State of the Union speeches with the programmed applause. The president’s party members applaud every two or three sentences, and they stand up almost that often. It’s an exercise of exercise!
The vice president sits there with approval all over his face. The Speaker of the House applauds off and on and mostly sits rather than getting up and down. The Speaker has a grim face. He’s thinking, dream on about what the president is saying, and if the Speaker comes from the opposing party, and controls one of the chambers, it is wishful thinking that there will be unity on the president’s plans.
When the president enters and leaves the joint session, he meets and greets the assembled members of the House and Senate as if he is loved by all and he is returning the affection. The military brass with their neatly pressed uniforms and countless rows of ribbons usually don’t smile much. They always look concerned about the defense budget. The Supreme Court justices, robes and all, look dignified, which is the message they convey. They know the cards they hold are better than what the executive and legislative branches have. Secretaries of the various departments have good seats and they smile and applaud the master of their appointments.
Then there are the special guests, many just common folks, there as props to send the message that the president and his family are “one of them and concerned and thankful” for whatever they did, or suffered. It’s a compassionate setting. The cameras often turn in the direction of the First Lady as she is giving approving applause. Her smile is as wide as the gap between parties.
Many Americans really “feel good” about those “feel good” words and look forward to the positive changes to expect. Problem is that “feel good” feeling becomes temporary because most of the promises don’t happen.
But State of the Union addresses have a traditional ring to them even though the batting average in fulfilling promises is probably about .128. If presidents would be paid on merit, and what was promised, their wealthy status would be in jeopardy.
Maybe presidents should have the option of letting someone else deliver the State of the Union address. We’d bet Bill Clinton would do it, regardless of the party the president belongs to, but in four years when Hillary is president, Bill would get good seating and that’s about all. Monica wouldn’t be invited! We doubt if Barack would come and he wouldn’t be one of the autograph seekers.
Anyway, it’s encouraging to see the warring parties together under the dome, at peace for a few hours, keeping their thoughts to themselves, and energized to go at it in the morning.
The Republicans are trying to reshape their image and that’s why they brought out the good-looking youngster from Florida to respond to the president. Son of immigrant parents from Cuba, from a blue-collar background, his talk gained much attention when he had the human touch to reach for a drink of water during his talk. Regular guy even if he is a senator!
That “good feeling” is fading, even among the believers.