The state of the Union’s addresses

Christopher Benson

President Obama will give his pseudo-State of the Union address in a few moments, but one may be forgiven for thinking that perhaps it had already taken place.  That’s because the content of the speech has already appeared on news networks, many of whom have already appended commentary to boot.

Given a basic outline and a few choice excerpts, the networks have taken up the surreal task of reporting news that hasn’t happened yet.  A quote from CNN:

"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely — to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity," Obama will say.

Call it old-fashioned, but if the President wants to give a speech, why doesn’t his staff wait until it’s over to give out the transcript?  Why not save people time and just pop off a memo?  If you’re going to give a speech, give a speech, not an oral presentation of previously released material.  People who absolutely must read it (as opposed to hear it) can mute the TV and turn on closed-caption subtitles or, better still, read it after the speech has been given.  Sure, it’s a cheap way to get a little extra noise into the press cycle, but honestly, we don’t like it when speeches seem phoned in; why should we appreciate it any more when they’ve been faxed out with media-friendly annotations?