SPEECH TEMPLATE

Bill Safire, an expert on such things, outlines a generic State of the Union address and makes some predictions for this 2004 edition.

Two points I find particularly interesting:

2. Defining adjective: The State of the Union is–what? “Strong” is popular; J.F.K. used “good”; Jerry Ford, in his first S.O.U., dared to judge it “not good.” If Bush chooses an unfamiliar adjective, that word will reverberate.

3. Interruptions by applause: Congress in joint session will clap on cue any time a president looks around. But watch how Democratic leaders Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi (who have already issued “prebuttals”) grimly sit on their hands. Observe calibrated reactions by candidates Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt, if they can spare the time to be there.

The first is a minor pet peeve of mine: saying “strong” every year is a pointless exercise. If it’s always “strong,” then let’s just skip it, along with pointing out that the night is “dark.” Substituting an unexpected adjective would indeed draw attention.

As Kevin Drum and others have noted, it’s no accident that the address is coming the night after the Iowa caucus. Any presidential address is a political event and, certainly, the SOTU that kicks off the election year is no exception. One wonders what lines in the speech will be crafted precisely to draw uncomfortable applause from Bush’s potential opponents?

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. melvin toast says:

    SOTU is usually comes in the last two week in January, on a Tuesday. If he spoke last Tuesday people would have said that he was trying to take the focus away from the run-up to Iowa.

    When should he speak?

    Furthermore, I don’t think Iowa counts for much. Clark’s baling on Iowa and he’s supposed to be running for second.
    Someone needs to explain to Iowans that their caucases give then UN status…irrelevance.

  2. melvin toast says:

    Damn I need more coffee. That was almost unintellegiable.

  3. James Joyner says:

    And if he did it next week it would trample on New Hampshire.

    Iowa is very important, though. Gephardt has to do well to go on, for one.

  4. mark says:

    In 2000, the Iowa Caucuses were held on Jan. 24, and Clinton gave his SOTU on Jan. 27. I heard nothing about Clinton diverting attention from Iowa or New Hampshire to make a speech which was supposed to help Gore form an agenda…

  5. The State of the Union is required by the Constitution and has to happen soon, so the fact that it is the day after the caucus probably IS an accident.

    Then again, everything is a conspiracy to Kevin.

  6. James Joyner says:

    DM: The president is required to report on SOTU to the congress, not to give an actual speech. Indeed, most presidents didn’t. Of late,it has been traditional to do it in January, though, so the choices are limited.

  7. James Joyner says:

    DM: The president is required to report on SOTU to the congress, not to give an actual speech. Indeed, most presidents didn’t. Of late,it has been traditional to do it in January, though, so the choices are limited.