The State of the Union Address: A Tradition of Not Telling the Whole Truth

IMAGE SOURCE: pickthebrain.com

IMAGE SOURCE: pickthebrain.com

By Anita Stewart

Humble Beginnings

The first State of the Union address was given by President Washington in 1790 in New York.

Similar to a “memo” or brief, there was also a written State of the Union Address that was meant to be delivered to both houses of Congress and be read aloud by the clerks of each chamber. President Jefferson broke with the spoken tradition and his was written and delivered this way. This custom continued through the next century.

A Brief History

In 1913, Woodrow Wilson resumed the spoken version of the State of the Union Address, taking it from being a recap of the previous year to a projection of goals for the following year. Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term “State of the Union” to designate both the speech and the event surrounding the delivery of the speech.

The first broadcast over the radio airwaves was in 1923 by Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman’s was on TV for the first time in 1947. Lyndon B. Johnson moved the TV broadcast to 9PM during prime time for the maximum amount of viewers. In 2002, Bush’s address was the first one that was web-casted.

#SOTU For 2015–The Viewers And What Was Covered And What Wasn’t

The topics that were covered were tax breaks (vague), education, child care, the economy and the middle class.

Ralph Nader stated on Democracy Now that the talking points of the speech from last night (Jan 20th, 2015) were “signaling presentations” and very significant because of what they mention and what they don’t mention. In other words, what President Obama did not say was just as important as what was noted in the speech.

There were also missed opportunities. Convergences could have been possible because of topics that both sides of the aisle agree on, i.e., an audit of the Pentagon to note the fraud, waste, abuse and corruption. Or the corporate Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Another very important one supported by Democrats and the GOP is the online posting of corporate contracts so possible fraud, waste and abuse can be projected and analyzed.

What was really a dichotomy were the mentions of more Oil and Gas, but then noted was Climate Change. Strength in workers but support of the ultra secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement or TPP and the Fast Track policy to make it into law.

The genocide in Palestine was not mentioned and neither was any mention of the poor.

The President did not mention the funding for new programs such as the one he announced for free Community College. He also did not speak about the IRS and the diminished budget for this agency. Closing down GITMO was mentioned, but we Americans have heard this promise before and the facility has remained open after multiple promises for it’s permanent closure.

Who Watched?

31.7 million people tuned in to watch and hear the speech. This was down from last year’s number of 33.3 million and it was the least watched State of the Union speech in 15 years.

You can read the entire transcript HERE

*

If you like this or other Challenging the Rhetoric articles, please share it with others; follow our website, Facebook page and/or follow us @CTRNewsFeed on Twitter. Don’t forget to listen to the LIVE show every Weds. @6pm PST/9pm EST. Thank you!

2 responses to “The State of the Union Address: A Tradition of Not Telling the Whole Truth

  1. Pingback: NOTHING IS BLACK AND WHITE: 50 Shades of Grey Surrounding Death of “Grey State” Filmmaker David Crowley | Challenging the Rhetoric·

  2. Pingback: Sex and [National] InSecurity | Challenging the Rhetoric·

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s