One of the major stories of President Biden’s State of the Union Speech was what was described as rude behavior by a few members of the Republican majority.  There were some boos on occasion – and even calling Biden a liar when he misrepresented the Republican position on Social Security.

In fact, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd led off his analysis of the Speech by saying that what “jumped out” at him was the behavior of the Republicans.  So typical of Todd.  The Speech dealt with the most critical issues facing America, and Todd finds a few catcalls in the headline news.

Keeping with the theme of GOP rudeness, a number of cable news talking heads brought up the time Republican Congressman Joe Wilson called President Obama a lair during his State of the Union Speech.

Oddly, not one of the lefty news folks brought up the singularly most notable example of rudeness associated with a State of the Union Speech.  Remember?  It was when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union Speech in front of millions of viewers.  (How could Todd have forgotten that?)

The Founders intended the President’s report on the status of the Union to be presented factually and objectively to the Congress.  It was not intended to be a presentation to the people.  The earliest presidents provided their reports in writing.  They later addressed Congress – but in the absence of radio and television, we the people, could only read scant newspaper reports.  And there was not a lot of those.    

President Coolidge was the first to present a State of the Union Speech on the radio in 1923.  The first televised State of the Union Speech was delivered by President Truman in 1947.  As was the tradition, they were given during the daytime working hours.  The first televised Speech in evening primetime was given by President Johnson in 1965.

Unfortunately, the evolution into a major political public relations event turned it into a presidential dog-and-pony show – a scripted reality event designed to persuade, not inform.  Gone was any effort to report on the state of the Union objectively.  It has transpired into the President’s annual exercise in self-praise and partisan bragging.  It also became less objective and accurate.  It is now nothing more than a campaign speech for the person and the party that holds the White House.  One reporter even called the speech Biden’s launch of his 2024 presidential election.

The modern State of the Union Speeches are riddled with propaganda, misinformation and … yes … lies. It is no longer a civic or constitutional event but rather a partisan political charade.

Personally, I would like to see us transform the State of the Union event into something more like the British Parliament’s weekly “Prime Minister Questions.”  We would not have to do it weekly but more than once a year would be great – maybe every quarter.

Imagine if after the President makes his remarks, the assembled members of Congress – House and Senate — could pose questions for the next hour or so.  Misstatements and lies could be challenged in real time.

One of the characteristics I like about the British system is the ability of members to express their feelings with moans, groans, cheers and the stomping of feet.  It is so institutionalized that it does not seem rude at all.  Democracy is at its best when it is boisterous.  We see that in protests and at government meetings at all levels.

I was driven to that understanding when I took a visiting Chinese intern to a meeting of our local village board.   She was astounded to see people in the audience openly disagreeing with the public officials – even yelling.  She said that such behavior would never be allowed in China.  People in her country had to quietly accept what government officials said and treat them as wiser than the public.  There is no opportunity for opposing opinions.  (Sound familiar?)   Silent politeness is how authoritarians operate, not democracies.  In a true republic, we the people are loud.

Congress itself was not always suffocated by decorum.  There used to be a lot of yelling and fist-shaking.  There was even violence, with members pulling out guns and, in one case, the severe beating of a Republican Senator on the floor of the Senate by a Democrat House member – although I am not proposing we return to that level of hostility.

We no longer have a real State of the Union report.  We now have the President’s personal political spin.  What Biden gave us is the state of his presidency as he sees it from a partisan perspective – or would like us to see it – and that also applies to all modern presidents.

“Questions for the President” would be more interesting, more informative than what the State of the Union report to Congress has become in the age of media.

So, there ‘tis.

Original article: