Empty Platitude Festival 2014


Tonight is the State of the Union speech, or as I call it, Empty Platitude Festival 2014. Watch as the meaningless buzzwords fly through the air! Gaze in awe to the thrills and chills of trite cliches performing feats of wonder for your entertainment! Then listen to pundits tell you What It All Means in the most serious of terms. Let me save them the trouble: It means nothing. Absolutely nothing. And no one should watch it or give a shit about it.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    But the applause!!! You have to watch to see applause! Where else can you see applause??? Nowhere. That’s where.

  2. matty1 says

    Is it true that early presidents used to discharge their obligation to inform congress on the state of the union by sending a letter? Why couldn’t this be brought back?

  3. rabbitscribe says

    In addition to the official GOP rebuttal and Tea Party rebuttal, Rand Paul will deliver the official Rand Paul rebuttal. We were unable to confirm the rumor that the poor creature that lives on Rand Paul’s head will also deliver its own remarks.

  4. Michael Heath says

    I watch the SOTU speech nearly every year and find utility in doing so every time I do. First because it provides a report of priorities and positions by the White House. Of course I don’t naively think the President’s SOTU legislative requests will all get passed by this Congress, but I do learn what the president will be doing within his Administration and promoting within Congress.

    I can also gauge how serious the president will be in his pushing for passage for his priorities, and then learn even more as I monitor how Congress responds over the coming weeks and months. We learned how powerful the NRA was this past year as they successfully thwarted passage of more gun control legislation, in spite of the lobbying the White House made within Congress and overwhelming public support the president attempted to leverage to influence Congress. We also learned last year that the president would and has used his executive power to fight climate change on a number of fronts where he doesn’t require Congress. Where in that same speech we also learned the president would be reluctant to move away from his “all of the above” energy sources.

    And of course some of it’s BS. E.g., Bush’s promotion for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution in one of his SOTU speeches was never serious. Where I discovered he wouldn’t push this item precisely because I watched Mr. Bush during this SOTU speech. That’s par for the course in nearly all political speeches. Nor will some of President Obama’s advocacy be taken seriously by me or others, which I’ll be able to better discern which ones to hold him accountable on precisely because I watch this speech.

  5. cry4turtles says

    I could be wrong here, but isn’t ignoring these “platitudes” part of the reason we’re in this GOP gobsmacked mess we’re in in now? I’d like to hear what the President has to say. The hot button issue is projected to be income inequality. Americans need to hear about this.

  6. eamick says

    Is it true that early presidents used to discharge their obligation to inform congress on the state of the union by sending a letter? Why couldn’t this be brought back?

    Thomas Jefferson decided to deliver his reports in writing, and every president after him did likewise. Woodrow Wilson is responsible for resurrecting the practice of personal speeches, and though there have been exceptions, it’s been the custom ever since. I think Reagan gets the blame for turning it into cheap theatrics, though.

  7. says

    cry4turtles said:

    I could be wrong here, but isn’t ignoring these “platitudes” part of the reason we’re in this GOP gobsmacked mess we’re in in now?

    How do you figure that? When did ignoring platitudes get anyone into a mess of any kind?

    I’d like to hear what the President has to say. The hot button issue is projected to be income inequality. Americans need to hear about this.

    Obviously you’ve already heard about it. As has every other American, in some form or other. What difference will it make if they hear about it from the president?

    The SOTU is an occasion for the president to stand up and announce, in the words of someone else (aka the script writers), what he cares about. It’s not a binding commitment to actually do anything, you know.

  8. colnago80 says

    Re eamick @ #8

    I think Reagan gets the blame for turning it into cheap theatrics, though.

    The president of the Ronnie the rat marching and chowder society on this blog won’t like that.

  9. says

    OK, then, I promise not to watch it (I wasn’t going to anyway). But in return, I propose the following: that when Michael Heath is ready, our host will make a blog post specifically for Michael to comment on with his findings from the speech and immediate aftermath, since – and I say this with all sincerity and no snark whatsoever – he’s one hell of a lot better at discerning the wheat from the speechified chaff than the rest of us.

  10. cry4turtles says

    It’s a good thing we live in a free country and are not forced to listen to political platitudes. I imagine there could never be enough enforcers to enforce. I think I’ll lend an ear, perhaps so I’ll know what was really said versus the subsequent spin. Orrr…I’ll read Mr. Heath’s review as previously suggested.

  11. Synfandel says

    Where else can you see applause???

    Applause in ingrained in the American social psyche. I used to work for the Canadian branch office of an American software company. We ‘attended’ company meetings by way of a two-way video conferencing system. It always amazed us that there was a round of applause from the US staff after every statement the president made, even when he was announcing downsizing and unpaid overtime campaigns. Someone eventually asked why the Canadian staff don’t applaud. Our reply was, “Why do you?”

  12. says

    Every time I hear a political speech, from a campaign stump to the State of the Union, I’m reminded of a rather funny scene at the end of The Encyclopedists, the second novelette in Isaac Asimov’s book, Foundation. In that scene, a representative of the Galactic Emperor visits the planet Terminus at the fringe of the known universe. He makes all kinds of promise-like utterances and signs a treaty that seems to promise great things.

    But when the treaty is analyzed using symbolic logic, and all of the deadwood was trimmed away, the five pages of the treaty boiled down to, “You give us what we want in a week, or we take it by force.” As for the promise-like utterances, every one of his conversations was recorded and subjected to the same analysis. What came back was a blank page: everything he said cancelled out everything else.

    I am reminded of that scene strongly.

  13. Jordan Genso says

    cry4turtles:

    I could be wrong here, but isn’t ignoring these “platitudes” part of the reason we’re in this GOP gobsmacked mess we’re in in now?

    Gretchen responded:

    How do you figure that? When did ignoring platitudes get anyone into a mess of any kind?

    I agree with cry4turtles, if [s]he placed “platitudes” in quotes in order to indicate that viewing them as such is subjective. When the president calls for policy ‘x’ to be passed in Congress, you can either view it as an unrealistic “platitude”, or you can view it as an actual desire by the president to see policy ‘x’ passed in Congress. I choose the latter.

    The SotU is an opportunity for the leader of the nation to address the public. Presidents often have many opportunities, but rarely do they get the viewership that matches the SotU. It should be important for the public to know what the president supports, and those “platitudes” are the medium the president uses to inform them.

    Back to cry4turtles main point-
    If the GOP (and individuals like Ed) dismiss the things mentioned in the SotU as “platitudes”, that only provides cover to those who ignore the leadership completely (rather than actually engaging in a rational debate).

    I don’t listen to conservative talk radio often, but when I do, I often hear them boasting about how they ignore the opposition. Rush Limbaugh a couple months ago tried to “educate” his audience about how to deal with someone who questions their positions, by giving the advice that they shouldn’t actually answer any of the questions and instead just keep repeating their claims. The reason this is on my mind is that on Laura Ingram’s show just this afternoon, she was having a conversation with Don Lemon from CNN, and they were laughing about how it is best to ignore the people who criticize what they say.

    We need to expose that mentality as being one of the fundamental reasons our politics are so dysfunctional. When one side openly takes the position that they don’t care what the other side has to say, the system can’t work. It’s an oversimplification of our politics, but very often the discussion goes like this:
    Dems- We like policy ‘x’ because of reasons ‘a’ and ‘b’.
    GOP- Policy ‘x’ is ______ (whatever their word of the day is to represent “bad”), and it will cause problems ‘1’ and ‘2’.
    Dems- No, policy ‘x’ won’t cause ‘1’ and ‘2’ because of reasons ‘c’ and ‘d’.
    GOP- [no response to what the Dems said, and instead just a reiteration of their previous statement]

    The SotU is the most visible opportunity the president has to make their position known. Rather than promoting the idea that we should all ignore it, we should instead promote the idea that the statements should be considered with rational judgment. Otherwise we’re just continuing the status quo, flawed political (non)discourse.

  14. says

    I don’t listen to the SotU address, haven’t for, like, ever. It is a meaningless exercise, in terms of it’s being a launching pad for anything specific.

    However, if Mr. Obama were to do anything other than what he is going to do tonight, he would have just that much MORE bullshit coming from the ReiKKKwing. That’s reason enough for him to do it, afaic.

  15. Trebuchet says

    We have “On Demand” with our cable service so will probably be watching Torchwood instead. I can learn all I need to know about the speech by going to Right Wing Watch tomorrow.

  16. Georgia Sam says

    My sentiments exactly, Ed. Nothing else on TV that’s worth watching, either. I think I’ll go to bed early.

  17. sunsangnim says

    I watched it with my Russian wife. At several points, she said, “I wish Putin spoke like that.” One of those points was when he spoke about gender equality in the workplace. I don’t know how much Obama will get done on this topic or others, but at least it’s up for debate, and the president is on the right side of the issue. Whenever I get cynical about our country (which is all the time), she reminds me how much worse it is in Russia. In her hometown, someone was arrested for having a pro-gay sign. Our president talks about equality to the nation. Even if it is meaningless platitudes, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

  18. doublereed says

    Really, I think much of the pointlessness of the SOTU is due to disillusionment, corruption, and obstructionism. If people believed more in the political process, I don’t think you’d see as much cynicism over the SOTU as you do. People probably would watch it and care about it. But right now, what’s the point?

Leave a Reply