Paul Ryan was more than a little apocalyptic in his State of the Union response:
"The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead," Ryan said. "On this current path, when my three children - who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old - are raising their own children, the federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country."
The entire performance reminded me of this Daily Show clip:
Heather Bousheynotes that for men, the economy is beginning to pick up:
For the full year of 2010, the private sector added jobs every month, and for the past three months it averaged 128,000 per month. In 10 of these 12 months of gain, however, the growth in jobs for men outpaced the growth for women. Last summer, women actually lost jobs while men saw small increases. And in total throughout 2010, men gained slightly more than a million jobs, while women gained a paltry 149,000.
Here is what doesn't matter about the State of the Union and its attendant spectacle: the instant polls of people who watch, the approval polls that follow, and -- when it comes to public opinion -- the actual content of the speech.
The first two are easy to explain; instant results are skewed by audience demographics (generally, the president's supporters are those who tune in) and instant impressions are usually fleeting. What sounds good in the moment -- "A joke about salmon? Hilarious!" -- might sound ridiculous the next day. Likewise, since relatively few people watch the speech, its impact on presidential approval is negligible. Of the last five presidents, only one, Bill Clinton, saw a measurable bump in his approval rating following a State of the Union.