How the Union’s state got so ‘strong’

tags: NYT, Ronald Reagan, language, State of the Union, presidential speeches



...Strong, stronger, strongest — one of those words has been used to describe the union in each of the last 17 State of the Union addresses.

But it was not always so. Presidents once used other words to describe the state of our union. President Jimmy Carter liked to call it “sound.” President Harry S. Truman liked to call it “good.” President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a lyrical moment, described the state of the union in 1965 as “free and restless, growing and full of hope.”

And when things were not going well, they said so.

“I must say to you that the state of the union is not good,” President Gerald R. Ford said in 1975, citing high unemployment, slow growth and soaring deficits. He added, “I’ve got bad news, and I don’t expect much, if any, applause.”...

What changed? The simple answer is President Ronald Reagan....




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