All Americans Can Cheer SOTU Speech

Tuesday evening, while watching the State of the Union address, I again recognized how much I enjoy the optics of the annual event. The night before I had been thrilled with the epic-sized A Passage To India, where director David Lean solidly proved how Hollywood can package a tremendously powerful movie. With a much-lower budget for a one-night SOTU production, however, the House Sergeant-at-Arms starts off by loudly announcing, “Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States” followed by the strong desire of House members to have an aisle seat so to be seen greeting the leader of the free world, while the military brass is assembled near to the Justices of the Supreme Court as the nation’s political leaders are primed either for partisan approval or utter disdain.  And the whole shebang is done in one take!  Is it any wonder we come back year after year for the show?

There is clearly an uplift to the night when the nation’s leader is of the same party as the one watching. But I can still much recall the genuine interest in watching President Reagan deliver many a SOTU speech that, agree with him or not, hit them out of the Capitol dome. But when it came to peer drama and newsroom maneuvering at each of the major networks nothing compared with President Bill Clinton in 1997 fighting for his half of the split television screen as his SOTU speech had to compete with a California jury handing down its verdict in the much-watched civil trial of O.J. Simpson. 

When handing out the calm and composure award, and since this is the awards season after all, the winner must be Clinton who on that same night got to the point where he was to start speaking and became the first to know the entire text on the teleprompter was one single, indigestible paragraph.  The computer snafu created no paragraph breaks, but the night was saved by aides who inserted the breaks and had the speech land with a success.

It would be hard to imagine the full drama of that event via radio, but that is how President Calvin Coolidge delivered his SOTU to the nation in 1923.  The famed Missourian, President Harry Truman, ushered in modern technology by being the first to have his SOTU broadcast on television in 1947.

Sure, it is easy to get agitated with politics, and grouse about the leaders on the other side of the aisle, especially when they are in power. But if we take just a minute to step back and see the grandeur of the SOTU, the process of how our government operates, and the attempts at decorum (minus the ones who acted boorishly with outbursts), all while robust policy disputes stew below the surface, we then can understand the power of this tradition. In so understanding, it is another reason every president is then correct in saying the state of our union is strong and secure.

P.S. For the first time after watching a SOTU I called the White House switchboard and said, “As an American, I want to say how much I appreciated the mood conveyed by the President that we are all Americans, and need to act as one to solve the issues we confront.”

5 thoughts on “All Americans Can Cheer SOTU Speech

  1. Julia Norton

    “For the first time after watching a SOTU I called the White House switchboard and said, “As an American, I want to say how much I appreciated the mood conveyed by the President that we are all Americans, and need to act as one to solve the issues we confront.””
    I agree and I will also call. Is he perfect–no. But neither am I! thanks.

  2. Cornelius_Gotchberg

    In an outrageous fit of monumentally infantile pique, THIS is what SanFranNan tore up, and along with it any semblance of subsequent decorum, three (3) years ago:

    2020 SOTU Address – Conclusion

    As the world bears witness tonight, America is a land of heroes. This is the place where greatness is born, where destinies are forged, and where legends come to life. This is the home of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, of many great Generals, including Washington, Pershing, Patton, and MacArthur. This is the home of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and so many more. This is the country where children learn names like Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett, and Annie Oakley. This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo.

    The American Nation was carved out of the vast frontier by the toughest, strongest, fiercest, and most determined men and women ever to walk the face of the Earth. Our ancestors braved the unknown; tamed the wilderness; settled the Wild West; lifted millions from poverty, disease, and hunger; vanquished tyranny and fascism; ushered the world to new heights of science and medicine; laid down the railroads, dug out canals, raised up the skyscrapers — and, ladies and gentlemen, our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic ever to exist in all of human history. And we are making it greater than ever before!

    This is our glorious and magnificent inheritance.

    We are Americans. We are the pioneers. We are the pathfinders. We settled the new world, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.

    America is the place where anything can happen! America is the place where anyone can rise. And here, on this land, on this soil, on this continent, the most incredible dreams come true!

    This Nation is our canvas, and this country is our masterpiece. We look at tomorrow and see unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored. Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun!

    Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!

    Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless America.

    The Gotch

    1. Cornelius_Gotchberg

      “To my Republican FRIENDS, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this Congress as well.” (bolds/caps/italics mine)

      After saying what he said in his très creepy Soul Of The Nation speech (AKA: “We the People, but not you people.”-H/T Ann Althouse) a mere five (5) months ago, those words ring hollow, and Biden ethically doesn’t deserve one whit of credibility.

      The Gotch

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