So, The State of the Union is Tonight…

…and does anyone really care? It’s probably one of the most highly politicized events of the year, which is somewhat appropriate given that it is the first big public happening of 2011, and as always, it provides an excellent chance for our revered President to use his “bully pulpit” to decry the demons on the Right who very obviously want to destroy our country by focusing on out of control spending. (sarcasm)

But this year just seems a little bit more cosmetic than usual with the resounding call for civility somehow being answered by Republicans and Democrats sitting next to each other and singing Kumbaya. (did I make up the part about the singing?  I swear I heard that somewhere…)

Of course, the absurdity of the moment is not lost on anyone in the country, but as far as reactions go, there isn’t any particular reason to get worked up over it.  Pomp and circumstance reign supreme tonight; so if Congress wants to add a little bit of flair to the proceedings, more power to them.  Allahpundit from Hotair puts it best in the title of his article: “Nation to heal by having congressmen from different parties sit next to each other at SOTU or something.”

Well, when you put it like that it does seem pretty absurd, doesn’t it?  Not that I need to really belabor the point, but the very first line of the piece goes a little like this:

Lisa Murkowski’s a big fan of the idea, so hey — how bad it could be?

Point made.

In general the State of the Union is really pointless not only because of the politicization of the circumstances, but because the content is generally known well in advance.  I mean, it’s kind of like going to see a movie after reading the script.  Sure, maybe you still want to see the movie, but you don’t really want to see it to know what happens.  You want to see it because you want to see how it’s presented.  You go for the special effects.

And at the end of the day, regardless of what some may rationalize is the reason for watching, the real reason people tune in is to see the theatrics.  But wait, they say… it’s a really important event and if you care anything about the American political system and the state of our country you need to see it!  Well, actually no.  Again, nice rationalization, and that might have been a compelling argument prior to the creation of cable TV and the Internet.  But with the development of new technology, the idea that you need to watch the State of the Union is a thing of the past.

It truly does not matter what is said at the State of the Union.  What matters is how the speech shapes the narrative of our politics moving forward.  You don’t need to watch the theatrics to get that message.  The important lines are not necessarily the ones that deal with substantive policy.  The important words are the salient ones that stick in the media, that attract popular coverage, and that shape the strategy in the days to come.

Whatever else is said tonight matters not.  What really matters is what is repeated tomorrow. And the next day.  And the next.  All you really need to do to get that information is tune in to the news on Wednesday and watch a 5 minute analysis, and you’ll have the information you need to know.  Or you could just check back here, and we’ll tell you.

Now, don’t think I’m advocating for people to boycott the State of the Union.  Nah, far from it.  I’ll certainly be watching it.  But don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re watching it for the content.  You’re watching it for the spectacle.



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