The state of the State of the Union

Overall:  a pretty good speech.  There were things I wanted to hear, like a focus on jobs, getting out of Iraq, working to pass health care reform, and repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  I liked that President Obama seemed feisty at times, as when he criticized the Supreme Court for their recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  I liked the proposed spending cuts, and the increases in spending, particularly for education, which needs it.  I liked the President’s challenge to legislate rather than bicker.  I liked the humor and humility he injected.  Yet in many ways, it was like any other State of the Union, lots of proposals, with lots of wait and see to follow.

What troubled me the most is the way the address is covered.  I watched it on ABC, a news team that I typically like, although I’m sure they are not much different than any of the other networks.  What I found troubling:

  • Why does the camera have to look at the audience at all?  Why doesn’t it just stay focused on the President.  The actual address is not, in my opinion, about how people are reacting to it.  Focusing onto the Senators who aren’t clapping or standing (or who are) takes away from the speech.  It also tends to reveal a particular news agencies biases.
  • Why does anyone care how much total time people were applauding?  Or how many times they rose to applaud.  Toward the beginning of the speech, there was point where people were cheering with each sentence.  Biden, at least, hesitated and then finally applauded only when everyone else did too.
  • Why were we getting reports of the tweets coming from the chamber?  Maybe it’s me, but it seems somehow disrespectful to be a member of Congress, tweeting away while the President is giving an important speech.  How much attention could they be paying to what was actually said?
  • Why does the President have to shake everyone’s hand going in, and sign autographs on his way out?  Haven’t most of these people already met him?
  • Why do we need fact checkers? The fact that informed citizens can’t or won’t check facts for themselves says something significant about the state of the union.

I’m just sayin’…