Same Old, Same Old SOTU

The president shall, Article II Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution reads, "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient," so here we arrive at the yearly State of the Union address. George Washington delivered the first in 1790, but Thomas Jefferson thought it sufficient to send his thoughts on the union's state in writing, and presidents did the same until Woodrow Wilson went before Congress in 1913 to describe with his mouth how the country was doing.

And then technology spread the State of the Union to the masses: Calvin Coolidge's 1923 State of the Union was the first to be broadcast on radio, Harry Truman's 1947 SOTU was the first on television, and Lyndon Johnson made it an evening affair in 1965 to maximize the TV audience. The next year saw the first opposition response, in which Everett Dirksen and Gerald Ford lit up the screen responding to President Johnson. Opposition responses came sporadically for a few years, but they've been the cause of regular channel-switching every year since 1982. This year's will be delivered by Marco Rubio, who will likely follow Mitch Daniels (2012), Bob McDonnell (2011), Paul Ryan (2010), and Bobby Jindal (2009) as a rising star who manages to disappoint his party with a lackluster performance that can't hope to match the pageantry of the president and his many, many standing ovations. And this year there will be a second response, from the Tea Party. It will be delivered by Senator Rand Paul, who has all the policy chops of his predecessor Michele Bachmann, but at least will probably look into the right camera. Don't feel bad if you miss it.


So They Say

"How about a little foreplay first?"

 —John Boehner, to CNN's Dana Bash, whose first question to the speaker in an interview was on immigration reform

Daily Meme: Pundit Prenalysis

  • Tonight's the big night. It's the State of the Union! NPR has the lowdown on four things to expect.
  • We have four other things you should anticipate. First, it's probably going to be real long. Like Lincoln long, not Lincoln long. We get that you like the speech, Dems, but it doesn't mean you need to clap after every noun. 
  • Second, it's going to be way dumber than James Madison's December 1815 doozy of a State of the Union.
  • Third, Obama will say the State of the Union is strong, and he won't need as many words as Andrew Jackson did.
  • And fourth, conservatives are going to hate it. Heck, they haven't even heard it yet, and they're already fuming!
  • Katrina Trinko assumes Obama's going to be, ugh, "unapologetically liberal."
  • Ted Nugent, a.k.a. a "force to be reckoned with," will be in the chamber, and is prepared to counter the speech, sure to be "stacked and jammed with props, children, and victims of violent crime," during his post-SOTU "media orgy."
  • The Washington Free Beacon is flummoxed that Boehner didn't invite Kate Upton, instead of random, boring-sounding people.
  • The Daily Caller has a great drinking game: "When Obama engages in class warfare, stab the richest person in the room with your broken beer bottle (which was broken, of course, by smashing it on said gentleman’s head)."
  • One thing they're not going to hate: Marco Rubio!
  • The Weekly Standard has a preview of where Rubio's remarks may go, and think it sounds just peachy.
  • Jennifer Rubin is also excited, because she thinks the young senator's response, unlike most, won't look "like he’s taped a hostage video."
  • One problem. As unmemorable as State of the Union's are, opposition party responses are even more forgettable
  • And who are we kidding. It's not like Congress is going to pay attention to either of them. 

What We're Writing

  • Clare Malone asks whether Benedict's upcoming resignation is good news for progressive Catholicism. The answer? No, not really, not really at all.
  • Anonymous has been on the warpath of late, and Rob Fischer has been right behind them. Peer behind the Guy Fawkes mask into the sweaty face of new internet heroism.

What We're Reading

  • Margaret Hartmann has the scoop on the lengths to which lawmakers go to touch the president and say three words to him at the SOTU. 
  • As Obama vows again to shrink our nuclear arsenal, Adam Weinstein notes that we're spending more on the weapons than we did during the Cold War. 
  • Dan Amira reveals the world's well-known secret Muslims.
  • Congress is thinking about creating drone courts to review the administration's drone murderin' antics. The problem, though, is that once we start half-assing due process, we'll have regularized half-assing due process.
  • North Korea has set off its third nuke, stronger than the first and second, all told about half as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The size is the scary part though; North Korea's ever-honest official news says it's small enough to mount on a missile.
  • Short and sweet from Ezra Klein: the federal deficit, hawks and sequester be damned, is falling faster than it has in more than half a century. What usually comes along with that kind of thing? Recessions. You know, like the ones in Europe, where they're reining in deficits as fast as they ever have.
  • Health care spending is down across the board, enough for the CBO to say it's responsible in a major way for our deficit reduction. Bad news? It's probably temporary.

Poll of the Day

Gallup reports that in their weekly poll, consumer confidence has just fallen away from its not-so-great five-year high, from -8 back down to -13. The change may have come in anticipation of the State of the Union address, or because of the steep increases to gas prices over the last couple of weeks. Since the poll measures not just to how respondents feel now, but their predictions about their future confidence, it's also possible that some are responding to their newly rediscovered payroll taxes. The brighter news is that even though we're down from a high, consumer confidence is on average much higher than it has been over the last three or four years.

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