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Wednesday, March 2, 2022

State of the Union

Gary Schmitt at AEI:
[P]residents from both parties now view the broader public more than Congress as their addressee. Instead of engaging in dialogue with the other branch of government, presidents hope to mobilize public opinion in their speech, generating poll numbers that, they believe, might pressure members to pass the various measures they are putting forward. In other words, instead of talking to Congress, they are talking over their heads as often as not.

It’s no surprise, then, that the members themselves understand their role, in turn, to be cheerleaders or frowning faces depending on their side of the aisle. The function of the president’s co-partisans is to reinforce the view that the president has the popular wind at this back. The last thing on their minds is how some proposal might be put through the deliberative and sausage-making process of committee hearings and floor debate.

Instead of the State of the Union address being a singular constitutional moment, whose formal audience is the Congress, we get a follow-on act that is meant to dismiss to some degree or another almost instantaneously whatever the duly elected chief executive has to say. There is no due deference to the fact that one person has been selected as president and he or she is not just the head of a party but, in this instance, is doing his or her constitutional duty. The fact is, the State of the Union Address is in a sorry state.