Tonight’s Expectations +

Tonight, is the State of the Union address. It’s almost a holiday for political nerds like me. I will be watching more out of a sense of obligation than anticipation.

President Joe Biden will get about an hour of almost exclusive prime time TV. He best takes advantage of it! Going into the event – and I expect tonight’s event to be more spectacle than substance – well, achievable substance anyway – polling shows the majority of voters don’t think he has accomplished much to date; reality tells a much different story. One of the few things I remember from my college communications class is that perception is perceived reality.

Perhaps my biggest criticism of the current White House is that the communications shop has done a lousy job of communicating the administration’s accomplishment to the general electorate. (This is in spite of the fact that I like a lot of the people running the communications shop; they are just not getting the job done effectively enough.) Biden’s days as a great orator are well behind him so the task at hand will not be easily accomplished.

OK, Biden’s job is outlined and the reality is that as far as future legislation goes nothing of substance will be accomplished over the next two years because the House Republicans won’t allow it no matter what the cost(s) to America, democracy or the world are. Vladimir Putin will get more help from them than Joe Biden will.
Now we move to the entertainment/anticipation possibilities. The normal battle of the standing ovations vs. sitting on our hands will be an aside. I expect antics. In fact, the pressure is on several to provide them.

The most pressure is on Kevin McCarthy. As speaker he will be sitting behind the president in clear view of America. The right wing extremists and Donald Trump are pulling his strings and they will expect something to rival or exceed Nancy’s Pelosi’s tear up the speech moment. If he doesn’t provide it, he will endure the (probably mainly) silent admonishment of his puppeteers.

Then there is the peanut gallery. There is much money and notoriety to whomever provides a Joe Wilson (“You lie”) moment. The candidates are seemingly infinite. Could that even devolve into a battle of the rude and wrong? (Remember, Joe Wilson was incorrect.) The after-event analysis could center around who was the naughtiest.

The Republican rebuttal is scheduled to be delivered by Arkansas Governor and former White House Press Secretary under Trump, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. Yes, really, they had to scrape that far down. The choice of Huckabee-Sanders tells me two things. First, Donald Trump still controls the Republican party. Second, the Republican bench is that lacking in talent.

As far as what comes out of tonight’s speech, I don’t expect much – unless, as I covered a few days ago, Biden announces his bid for reelection. As to entertainment level for political junkies that is to be determined. I’ll be watching, for non-political junkie Americans it might be a good night to watch a movie or read a book.

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