Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Lighter Side of SOTU

The State of the Union for 2013 is now another part of history, or at least it should be.  While a well-delivered piece of political rhetoric, it wasn't a particularly ground-breaking or inspirational bit of speech writing.  Now for those of you who would like to pick the nits for a bit more, I have a recent column in the Toledo Free Press in which we can do it together here.  For the rest of us:  as the old Chad and Jeremy song from 1962 says, "That was yesterday, and yesterday's gone".

Before we leave it completely however, I would like to touch on some of the lighter bits that I noticed during the days during which it was broadcast. (What, it was only a little over an hour?  You've got to be kidding me!)

  • Would somebody please disconnect the APPLAUSE sign and stop treating the SOTU like a puppet show.  If this is as an important as they would like to make us think it is, they need to treat this speech like a school awards banquet where everybody is told to hold their applause until the end.  Not only would this take the pressure off the speechwriters to produce so many of the spontaneous 'scripted' moments required in good theater, but it would avoid those awkward moments when the audience stops paying attention and either jumps the gun or misses their cue to clap.  It would also stop making this gathering of the nation's leaders not look like they were bobbing up and down like a talent night puppet show.
  • VP Joe Biden seemed awfully pre-occupied with some paperwork during the speech.  Oh, he managed to applaud whenever the little light came on, but it sure looked like he was checking over his tax returns or catching up on some briefing notes instead of listening to the boss right in front of him.
  • Speaking of the guys behind, John Boehner had a look on his face that made it appear as if he hadn't had a bowel movement recently.  The other thing apparent was that a guy that represents Ohio and works in Washington DC looked like he was sporting far more melanin than he had any right to.  Fortunately, John's making pretty good money as Speaker, so I'm sure he can probably afford the new Obamacare taxes involved with tanning booths.
  • I noticed that the Supreme Court was in attendance again this year, though not all of them.  The President didn't call them out this year, so the cameras didn't spend much time focusing on them during the speech.  They did pan across at one point late in the effort however, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looked to be 'chin on chest' and down for the count.  Justice Breyer sitting next to her likewise seemed to be doing a chainsaw imitation, so he wasn't going to be able to help her.  Then again, most of the Justices are no longer kids, so being out after 9PM EDT is probably way past their bed time.
  • OK, I get the fact that Senator Mark Rubio needed a drink of water while delivering the Republican response and had to reach well off-camera to grab a bottle of water while suffering from dry mouth; somewhat spoiling his performance.  Many saw this as a chink in his armor.  I saw it as a Republican who was working with Union stage hands who wouldn't give a member of the party of evil a drink if they were dying in the desert, but wouldn't mind making one look foolish by placing a drink just out of reach. 
  • The beginning of the SOTU is a fairly well orchestrated bit of pomp and circumstance.  The Sergeant at Arms makes the introduction and the President walks down the aisle to the podium, shaking a few notable hands and exchanging greetings on his way; in a bit of ceremony well worth following with the cameras in the room.  The President's exit however, breaks down in a series of handshakes and autographs that cheapens much of what has gone before.  Giving an hour long speech is tiring, doing it in front of a jaded audience is even more so.  Having to hang around and sign programs like the paid talent at a baseball convention makes it downright silly.  I think that they either need to turn the cameras aways and spare the President, or tell the Secret Service they need to put on their dark sunglasses and remind the crowd that they've got guns and aren't afraid to use them.  Let's get POTUS out of the room and let him have the drink he probably needs by then.
  • You know what, let's just go back to the days of Thomas Jefferson, who simply had a written form of the SOTU delivered to the members of both Houses.  Not only would it eliminate all of the issues previously listed, but it would keep from messing with the mid-week television schedule. 

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