As Roger Simon pointed out, one of the inherent problems with State Of The Union addresses is that, for the most part, they tend to slip from our memory with a studied speed. From time to time, a president will say something about "human-animal hybrids" or "uranium from Niger," or you might be lucky enough to have some idiot representative yell at the president, but for the most part, these speeches do tend to run together.
To be honest, if President Barack Obama wanted to do something memorable tonight, he'd step to the dais, point out the massive unemployment crisis and the everlasting war in Afghanistan, and say something like, "Y'all, the state of the union is mad FUBAR, okay?" But that's not what these addresses are for. Really, the State of the Union is like a national address to Santa Claus. We've been a really, really good nation this year, we have every intention of being a good nation next year, and it would be swell if we could have some new presents.
And by "presents," I basically mean the political will and the money to do a laundry list of serious things for the good of our country. But if you take a trip in the wayback machine, you'll see another reason why these addresses are so unmemorable: those laundry lists are mostly indistinguishable from one another. Presidents have been attempting to achieve the same ends for decades: higher graduation rates, better test scores, less dependence on foreign oil, a reduction in federal spending. And the things they want in order to achieve these goals are all basically identical as well. They want smaller classes, and more teachers. Less pollution, newfangled energy sources, and more drilling. Balanced budgets and lower taxes -- and magical gold from beanstalks, I guess!
Why is it that we keep asking for the same stuff every single year, only to have to go back and ask for it again the next? I don't know! MSNBC reported this morning that according to the Congressional Research Service, 43 percent of the policies requested in a State Of The Union address get enacted. What's happening with the other 57 percent? It's almost as if lawmakers don't take the future seriously, or they care more about serving powerful monied interests that prefer the status quo, or the system is broken, or all of the above.
We've gone back down memory lane, and have prepared to you the essential State of the Union master cut. We'll probably be able to seamlessly add tonight's edition to this later, and you won't even notice.
Video by Hunter Stuart