For the record, I didn’t watch the State of the Union address Tuesday night. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t care. I prefer to read (yes read, kids) the text of the President’s speech than watch it. That’s what the internet is for. Did you know that you can download it and read or watch it at your pleasure?
The State of the Union is a yearly report on the status of the United States. It’s not a pep rally or a Debbie Downer poop party. However, as a society of getting the information right away, I’m starting to sour on watching the SOTU simply because I want to hear the speech. I’m not watching it to see him get interrupted every 30 seconds into his speech by loud applause and standing ovations.
It’s quite nauseating and a waste of time. In college, I took an old Ronald Reagan SOTU speech and timed myself reciting the speech. It took roughly 27 minutes to do it without interruption. Then when I took out the things that wasn’t needed in the speech (human-interest stories, gallery acknowledgments, etc), it was 21 minutes.
I’m an analytical guy. I need the numbers and the facts and what type of ideas are out there to help tweak, or resolve a problem. With that in mind, I have four suggestions that should be cut out or reduced from all SOTU speeches that would bring me back to watching it.
-Ditch the long-winded human interest stories. It’s nice and appealing, but it’s a waste of time for those at home. Yes, it’s inspiring and sad, but the individuals who sit up in the gallery balcony that gets acknowledged are not always “the Face of America” as every President waxes poetically. I’m a single guy, currently unemployed, and a diabetic. I’m one of many Americans who make up roughly 10% of Americans who are looking for jobs. I’m one of so many millions of Americans who have a chronic disease or an ailment/illness of some sort.
Everyone is going through the same thing: job loss, trying to stay insured, looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. There’s no need to remind us of that. We see it everyday, through good times and bad.
-Hold all applause until the end of the speech. Both sides of the aisle need to end this silly practice of applauding every 30 seconds, prolonging the SOTU to nearly 90+ minutes. Most of us at home want to hear the President of the United States, not watching Nancy Pelosi clapping wildly or Steve King stewing in his seat like the devil. The Des Moines Register nailed it with the sidebar next to their editorial about the State of the Union Tuesday morning, titled “Hold the Applause”. To have a speech interrupted 60 times so that Congress can applaud is overkill.
-Eliminate the opposition party’s response. Since 1966, the minority party in Congress has delivered their response to the President’s SOTU speech. A simple written statement would suffice now, rather than have CBS start their shows at 9:32pm CST, forcing the late local news.
-Special guests in gallery. Unless the person is a visiting head of state from another country, there’s no need to call the names of every special guest in the gallery. The majority of Americans are not going to remember all of them anyway, unless we have some direct connection with that person.
The following words I typed out and timed took 4 minutes and about 550 words. George Washington’s first State of the Union was 833 words long. No one interrupted by clapping, and George didn’t time to acknowledge a neighbor or his wife.
We live in a high-tech society in which if we don’t have time to watch it, we’ll download it at anytime and listen to it, or read it. It sounds like I’m dissing the President, but I’m not. I have better things to do with my time and life than sit and be irritated with the distractions when the POTUS is trying to read through a speech.
I’ll read the text of the SOTU tomorrow.
If I get a chance to.
By the end of the week.
Something like that.
Shortening the speech would help. To recite a 50,000 word speech today can be long and boring. Keep it simple.