Sorry. I know you guys are sick of State of the Union commentary by now. But I just had to share this with you.
Employing devastating eloquence, Kevin Williamson of National Review shreds the State of the Union, douses the pieces in kerosene, fries them to a crisp, and spreads the ashes over the Indian Ocean.
Not Obama’s State of the Union address. ANY State of the Union address.
From the piece, titled Great Caesar’s Ghost:
The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.
It’s the most nauseating display in American public life — and I write that as someone who has just returned from a pornographers’ convention.
Get the idea?
Williamson notes that through much of the nation’s history, the State of the Union was not delivered in person. It was Woodrow Wilson, the grandpa of our current statist predicament, who launched the modern annual imperial procession from the White House to Capitol Hill.
The State of the Union address, Williamson suggests, imbues the presidency with a regal aura that was never, ever intended and that is directly contrary to the point of our nation’s founding.
It’s expensive maintaining an imperial class, but money isn’t really the object here, and neither is the current occupant of the White House, unlikeable as he is. Whether it’s Barack Obama or some subsequent pathological megalomaniac, Republican or Democrat, the increasingly ceremonial and quasi-religious aspect of the presidency is unseemly. It is profane. It is unbecoming of us as a people, and it has transformed the presidency into an office that can be truly attractive only to men who are unfit to hold it.
George Washington showed the world that men do not need a king. We, his heirs, have allowed the coronation of something much worse.
It’s worse than the Oscars.
I don’t completely agree. I think Americans like a bit of pageantry, and better to have an elected official perform it that an actual monarch.
I think the State of the Union has the civic virtue of allowing Americans the chance to see the government in one place and watch their elected leaders engage with all the issues currently before them, even if only rhetorically. I think there’s value in that.
But Williamson’s points are very well taken. The presidency and the executive branch have become monstrous. Congress, and particularly the House, is supposed to be the soul of our government, not the president.
If the whole grand, pompous spectacle ended – replaced by, say, an address from the Oval Office – I might object. But quietly.