Blogs > Liberty and Power > Speech from the Throne

Jan 31, 2006 9:55 am

Speech from the Throne

I have a piece on the Cato site today decrying the ridiculous ritual of the State of the Union. Excerpt:

Thus the State of the Union has settled into its familiar, modern incarnation: a laundry list of policy demands packaged in pomp and circumstance. And the content of the annual message has changed accordingly. In the journal Presidential Studies Quarterly in 2002, political scientist Elvin T. Lim tracked the evolution of presidential rhetoric through two centuries of State of the Union addresses. Lim notes"an increasing lack of humility" on the part of the president, as well as declining references to the Constitution, which were quite prevalent in the 19th century. By the late 20th century, it was"all about the children," with"Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton [making] 260 of the 508 references to children in the entire speech database, invoking the government’s responsibility to and concern for children in practically every public policy area." Granted, Washington did mention children in his seventh annual message, protesting"the frequent destruction of innocent women and children" by Indian marauders. But modern references to children have a different tenor, as when President Bush used his 2004 State of the Union to demand"drug testing [in schools] as a tool to save children's lives…[and] send them this message: We love you and we don’t want to lose you." In the same speech, departing from the constitutional injunction to address his recommendations to Congress, President Bush called on major league baseball and football to"get tough, and to get rid of steroids now."

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Keith Halderman - 1/31/2006

More evidence of the increasing infatilization of the American people because of course everything we do for, or rather to, the children we also end up doing to adults.

Sheldon Richman - 1/31/2006

Good stuff, Gene!