Crossing the Moat for The State of The Union

If we really cared about the 1% and the 99%, we would not draw a line between the rich and the rest. Instead, we’d focus on the self-important who are “inside” a circle known as the beltway and the serfs and peasants on the “outside” who are pejoratively referred to by the insiders as the “American People.” Or sometimes, “folks.”

The Washington beltway has evolved into a moat with water replaced by traffic. Few groups of Mandarins in all of history have achieved this pinnacle of self-importance. Even Versailles had no moat.

Unfortunately, self-importance is of little value without the feeling of self-importance so, from time to time, the Mandarins must allow the serfs and peasants a glimpse at the inner workings of their government.  One such occasion is the President’s State of the Union Address. Technically, it takes place on Tuesday night January 28, but it has been happening for about a week though leaks and the festival of televised self-importance on Sunday mornings.  It will continue until overwhelmed by Super Bowl promotions.

George Will refers to the State of the Union, as a puerile spectacle. “As undignified as it is unedifying and unnecessary, the vulgar State of the Union circus is again at our throats. The document that the Constitutional Convention sent forth from Philadelphia for ratification in 1787 was just 4543 words long, but this was 17 too many. America would be a sweeter place if the Framers had not included this laconic provision pertaining to the president: ‘He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.’”

Years ago, there was at least a moment of drama when House Doorkeeper William L. “Fishbait” Miller would throw open the door of the chamber and shout “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States,” but he is long dead. The Congress was a better place – or at least more fun – when there were people called Fishbait instead of today’s flock of blow-dries.

Fishbait’s bland replacement will do his best with no success and the leader of the free world will move slowly toward the podium between the rows of huggers, backslappers and air kissers who will have staked out their aisle seats early that morning. These elected officials drew a day’s salary for this endeavor.

The speech itself will have nearly nothing to do with the state of the union, which will be described as “good” and everything to do with turning out Democratic voters in November. This is called banging the base drum. Musicians will be offended by the spelling of bass but there are fewer musicians than fishermen. This is how words are chosen for the State of the Union.

Actually most of the words will have been sold to various lobbyists and coveted campaign donors.  Beleaguered speech writers were long ago tasked with turning the dog’s breakfast that resulted into at least some sentences that could reasonably be placed next to each other. Like Fishbait’s replacement, they will do their best with no success.

A few serfs and peasants will be invited to sit with Michelle Obama to serve as props for one cause or another. Their struggles will be described and hugs and waves will follow.

In 2009, Congressman Joe Miller, a Republican from South Carolina shouted, “you lie” at some statement or other. He is remembered – not fondly in some circles but remembered nonetheless.

Well fellow serfs and peasants, name anything else you can remember about a State of the Union address.


2 Responses to “Crossing the Moat for The State of The Union”

Stan Hatch, January 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm said:

Haven’s prediction turned out to be true. If you listened to Obama State of the Union address, you are either uplifted, bored or taken aback by what you believe to be

I disagree with his interpretation of the statistics regarding the economy. We have lower unemployment rate because the labor force is shrinking. Net job growth is flat. You can’t just look at the “new hires.” Much of our manufacturing has gone overseas.

Our education system is as bad as ever. The test scores show this.

Our diplomatic efforts in Iraq, Iran and Syria have not been anything to brag about.

Our energy dependence on foreign sources is lowered because of private efforts, not public.

Our relations with Europe suffered tremendously with the disclosed phone taps.

Obama’s policy of printing 85 billion a month to pay the government’s bills and the Fed’s interest policy have caused the wealthy to get wealthier and the poor to stay the same, since savings in the bank are worth less since they pay little or no interest. That is the income on which most retirees depend in addition to their social security.

I guess things could be worse, but that is not a very uplifting message.

I don’t like the direction the Democratic party is taking us. However, unless the Republican party changes, that direction will continue. We can also hope that the Democrats will find new leadership. To me, that means someone other than Obama, Hillary or Biden. All we can do is hope, and have a clear vision of what the reality of the situation is.

By the way, if you are thinking of buying a home with no money down, now is a good time to do it. The FHA is now doing what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack did before, guaranteeing such loans. The interest rates are good, and even though the banks wouldn’t make such loans on their own, with the new government programs they might. If you are upside down in your home and have kept up your payments, the federal government will allow you to refinance at the new appraised value and will basically pay the banks the difference. It has revived the housing market to some extent, but it means the economy is proceeding on shaky footing.

In short, I’m still cautious about the economic outlook. Our national debt and current deficit is tremendous. Obama actually made is sound like they are in fine shape.

We are having new challenges with Russia and China. I didn’t hear anything about that.

Obama made it clear he is encouraging business leaders to do more affirmative action hiring and hiring the long term unemployed. He said unemployment benefits must be extended and that more has to be done to make college affordable to the poor. It’s just how all that gets done is what matters.

Obama said the gap between the 1% and 99% has grown wider, meaning that the 1% should pay more taxes and more benefits should be given to the 99%. I would prefer to see it done through a growing economy than handouts even if the 1% has to pay more taxes. I don’t recall him saying much about US corporate taxes. Most of the public think big corporations should pay more and the general public pay less.

It gets down to that the State of the Union is a political campaign speech rather than a true report. The way the speech is done now is that there is polling to see what the hot issues are among the public. Then the president is told what is the best way to address these issues to get the most votes. Than the president puts his final stamp on what he is willing to say and what he is not according to his own political beliefs. After that his speech writers try to draft it in the most positive way possible from a vote getting standpoint. Not exactly journalistic reporting! Obama’s speech fit that mold perfectly.

Which is why so many in the general public don’t even bother listening to it. Maybe that’s best. It might give us a false sense of security if we believed it. Or if we really analyzed it, it would just disgust us more with government.


Haven, February 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm said:

Maybe we have done the baby boomer President thing. The first post-baby-boom year is 1965. A candidate born in that year will be 51 in 2016. We could give that a try.


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