The annual State of the Union address to Congress was a turgid regurgitation of the garbage that flows out Washington D.C. every day. Bush recited all the buzzwords and all the key phrases. He pacified the intellectually soft feminists with a nice little sentence on bringing freedom to women in Afghanistan. He made the intellectually-challenged Administration fanboys feel proud of the march to reduce civil liberties and turn Iraq into a military territory. He made his campaign contributors feel happy about their inevitable tax cut. He made up a new word called “Hitlerism.”

The definition of his new word is not yet known and will, undoubtedly, never be understood.

Bush took all the nonsense that he and his minions have been spouting every day since September 11, 2001 and shoved it all into one speech to Congress. Anything Bush says is numbingly amusing—it’s hard to get riled up about administration propaganda these days–so it’s not the content of the speech that bothers us. What gores us is the ritual of the State of the Union Address in an age of instant communication.

The “address” wasn’t a speaking function until Truman at the end of World War 2. George Washington tried the speech as we know it today but Thomas Jefferson spit on the concept upon becoming president. Jefferson felt that the speaking address to Congress was aristocratic in the same vein of a king addressing his court. As Congress is not connected to the presidency for legitimacy or authority, the president fulfilling his constitutional mandate to inform Congress of the state of the union and suggest a legislative agenda can easily be fulfilled through a letter rather than a speech.

Every president from Jefferson to Roosevelt put the State in writing. Starting with Kennedy and Johnson, they became televised events.

The State of the Union should return to an annual essay. People that don’t care about politics will not watch the speech when cable and the Internet are entertainment options. People that do care about politics will not watch the speech when cable and the Internet are entertainment options. The transcripts of every word the president says are available at the White House website and major events like the State of the Union are mirrored on all major news outlets.

When an important event like the State of the Union occurs, making it a televised PR stunt for mindless propaganda cheapens its value and further discredits the US government. There’s not much trust left in government in America. Giving the country what they need to know will give citizens the benefit of the doubt that they can absorb just the facts. Putting the State in writing will also save a ton of money, time and patience for everyone.

The media is perfectly willing and able to report on propaganda without an annual event.

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