State of the Union

Kevin Williamson writes:

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. …

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…

President Obama delivered his last State of the Union last night. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor of my family room, surrounded by everyone in the house, watching President Bush’s 1991 address. It’s a memory of mine, and it’s nice insofar as I remember being there with my family and getting a thrill to some extent off of a strange civic event. But it’s not one I want my children to have, for all the specifics that Kevin addresses.

The best civic experiences are those we have in our own place and among those we love or come to love. They’re not televised, because the most meaningful moments are personal, and often not telegenic. Our modern State of the Union divides more than it unites, inflaming petulant political instincts and cheap point-scoring wherein we demean our brothers and sisters for the sake of assuaging our own political egos.