When Presidents deliver their State of the Union remarks to a Joint Session of Congress, it can be hard to determine which of their legislative proposals are “necessary and expedient.”
At least the President Obama avoided references to school uniforms or the energy implications of switchgrass.
These yearly traditions have become an exercise in legislative futility. The President proposes–or in the case last night, proposes again–while Congress rises and falls in applause, often just half the house. The Speaker denounced the speech before it was delivered. Questions abound regarding what the seating arrangement near the First Lady says about the president’s agenda for the year. The decorum with which the Supreme Court Justices arrive seems oddly out-of-place in the setting.
The addresses are part valedictory, part partisan pandering, part blame shifting, part patriotism and all with an eye to electoral trajectories. And they’ve been this way for years. We might as well move them to a nearby football stadium. My further thoughts on this were published in Worcester’s Telegram and Gazette.