I don’t often blog about politics because it’s such a divisive subject – even among my immediate family, convictions vary widely.
Last night, watching the State of the Union address, I was struck by a couple of things.
What is the point of this big event? There was nothing new announced, nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering explored. (OK, maybe an actual number for troop drawdown was new, but otherwise…)
Everyone gets dressed up, and attendance for key members of all branches of government seems to be nearly mandatory. The VIPs and guests of honor come to town, and are carefully seated where cameras can easily find them.
The president stands up, and runs down his platform, pretty much adhering closely to party line. Euphemisms and political cliches are rampant. He gets a little cranky about executive-legislative non-cooperation, but gets really excited about a few of last year’s accomplishments. He’s frequently interrupted by partisan applause, more rarely by bipartisan approval.
Then we hear a response from a key, impartial member of the opposing party. While prefacing her comments with the proposition that support for government should be bipartisan, she, too, pretty much runs straight down the opposition party platform.
A representative number of candidates with wooden smiles and perfect hair spend a few minutes onscreen; they, too, emphasize their respective party’s talking points.
At the end of the evening, nothing new has been said. Neither the president nor the opposition party has gained any ground, reached any consensus. No one has solved any problems, no one has proposed any innovative solutions.
So, why is it such a big deal? Why do all the movers and shakers show up for a rehash of old news? I have a theory; it’s a pep rally for our elected leaders, lacking only a hyperactive cheer squad.
One other question: how is it that the State of the Union is strong? Have I missed something during the last year? We’re facing an impending recession, the federal deficit is outrageous, foreign support for US policies is lukewarm-to-hostile, protests rage in the street about immigration and the war in Iraq, and approval levels for the existing oligarchy are at an all-time low.
It must be some alternate definition of strong.