SOTU: A cliche-ridden and tacky speech 

From time to time, as written in the Constitution, the president will inform Congress about the state of our union. It’s hard to imagine the Framers selling the event as an opportunity for drinking games (i.e., take a sip of liquor when the president says, “Let me be clear,” which, to the merriment of our livers, he didn’t). Then again, they didn’t see Wednesday’s cliche-ridden 70-minute speech.

It’s time we did away with the same old Washington way of constantly bringing up “the same old Washington way of doing things.” That means that when we think “we must answer history’s call,” as the president suggests we must, we should consider the failure of cash for clunkers and the boondoggle of the stimulus, and just let history’s call ring through to voicemail.

Obama said that in his campaign, “I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular — I would do what was necessary.” Having done neither what is popular nor what is necessary, he crowed, “I refuse to accept second place for the United States of America,” after which he outlined exactly the policies that would ensure we could never qualify for third or fourth, either.

The cliches aren’t entirely Obama’s fault, of course, and for once, nor are they President George W. Bush’s. The tradition of the speech itself is tacky, having been started by President Wilson, a Democrat with a Ph.D., whose grand schemes included creating the Federal Reserve (which people either hate or don’t understand), temporarily stopping World War I (so that Europe could have an even better war 15 years later), and creating a United Nations-like League of Nations (which Europe mistook for a tournament bracket).

It must be something about being a professor, because Obama’s policies are similarly misguided, and his speech similarly tacky. Which explains, perfectly, why the Framers would probably be fine with the drinking game part.

About The Author

J.P. Freire

J.P. Freire is the associate editor of commentary. Previously he was the managing editor of the American Spectator. Freire was named journalist of the year for 2009 by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You can follow him on Twitter here. Besides the Spectator, Freire's work has appeared in... more
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