His manner intractable, his tone implacable, his countenance as ineluctable as the Sphinx (or, at least, Eisenhower), our beloved President of the United States will offer to a joint session of congress and billions of listeners worldwide, the culminating speech of his first year as premier. As obedient Christians, we pray for the one set before us, for his safety and good cheer, as well as that of his precious family.
He gives us, tonight, the annual speech regarding the State of the Union.
Our union is a troubled state. We are underemployed by about 17 million jobs. We are at war; slow, death by a thousand cuts wars, where insight into our actual better interests and ability is more valuable than ever. We are reeling from the lax policies of the previous Democratic administration and the even more lax regulatory practices of the previous Republican administration.
We are a troubled union. He will have to say so tonight, quietly, and with hope, for no one would agree with him otherwise.
State of the Union messages were not always delivered. Certainly, they were not always delivered orally. An assistant would clamber from the White House over to the Capitol Building with what amounted to the President's report, deliver it and scurry back to the Executive branch. The clerk of the Congress would then read the report to as many as thought they could stomach it, usually in a sonorous monotone.
The house will be packed tonight, however, and great attention will be paid to every mannerism of the President, the Speaker and the Vice-President, as well as members seated in their floor rows, aisle to aisle. No word yet on whether or not anyone will call our President a liar again.
That minor matter aside, we ask ourselves why the House will be packed and why so much minute detail will be paid to the worthies gathered. I have an explanation.
The presence of the media will make this one more speech in a myriad of campaign speeches. There is little room for statesmanship, much latitude for partisanship and its traveling companion, brinksmanship. The campaigning never ends now.
The campaigning never stops. We will not have a speech like Lincoln's second inaugural again soon. We would not get one anyway (it is their quality that makes great speeches rare, not any comparison to their mediocre cousins) but the demeaning aspects of the Post-Modern political rambling is simply this; the speaker sounds the way he does because he is running for something or other, or knows someone who is running for something and has to help him.
So, all we here sounds like a stump speech in Ames, Iowa, just before the straw votes.
Maybe a Sphinx is what we need.
I do know we need an end to the tendency of both (well financed) major parties to criminalize the policy differences between them, depending on who has the super majority in the Senior House, the Senate. It seems that one vote less than a Super Majority means nothing can happen, unless one counts as a happening, the recent US Supreme Court auction of American Democracy. The rule of law exists only in this formula; the quality of the laws (QL) x the regulation of the powerful (RP). The USSC decision to allow donations of any size to political campaigns fails both tests. The rule of law may end in this country as a result.
But I digress.
While I am digressing, let me remind us what Disraeli said would bother him about a democracy; the cry for services, accompanied by an equally platitudinous keening over tax support for those services. Dizzy was right.
Tonight our President, God bless him, and God bless the USA, will have to hold his temper and his tongue. He has told us repeatedly of late that he will fight the large interests for the small, the rich for the middle-class. Now, he has to tell us what he wants us to do to help him heal the sick, feed the hungry and bring peace to the troubled land.
He should whisper. It will make people listen to hear.
Opinions expressed here are mine, not those of the church I serve or any other person.