February 16, 2013

The State of the Union "has turned into a childish spectacle."

"I don’t want to be there to lend dignity to it," said Justice Scalia.

41 comments:

Mogget said...

The comparison between Justice Scalia and Mr. Biden, who tends to applaud like a seal hoping for fish, is especially instructive.

kentuckyliz said...

When it becomes an exercise in "calling you out," which is beneath the dignity of every person in that room...I have to say...

SOTU?

STFU.

rhhardin said...

I was thinking just today that our President has the mind of a child, and was wondering if anybody would say it.

rhhardin said...

This week's Radio Derb suggests a return to a written SOTU, two pages max.

LilyBart said...


I'm afraid I have to agree with this statement. I stopped watching these speeches when Bush was still president.

Chuck said...

I usually agree with the great Justice Scalia, but I'm not so sure I agree with his language in this case.

I think I might have preferred it if Scalia had said, "The State of the Union Address is an event of great American pageantry. Although it is not official business of the Court, I'd like to go; just as I attend Presidential inaugurations. But this President has become so provocative, in such a bone-headed way, that I am not going to any of his addresses, just because he makes me so angry."

That's what I'd like to hear from him. But in fact I think that Scalia's failure to attend SOTU addresses is bipartisan.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

rhhardin,

Agreed. (Not sure about the two pages, but the combination of making Congress actually read something and not giving the President -- any President -- another free opportunity to grandstand is tempting. Woodrow Wilson has a lot to answer for, but making the SOTU into a speech is up there.)

On this subject, Mark Steyn was rockin' the house this morning:

here.

Bill said...

Too lazy to look it up but I'm sure plenty of conservatives were saying the same thing about the SOTU speech throughout the Bush presidency as well. Not that it was a "childish spectacle" but that it should be abolished as political theatre and possibly just written out in a short report. How refreshing that would be.

edutcher said...

The Constitution direct POTUS report on SOTU, but it has been just sent to congress as a report.

rhhardin said...

I was thinking just today that our President has the mind of a child, and was wondering if anybody would say it.

I've called him petulant several times.

Does that count?

Palladian said...

I've never watched a "State of the Union" speech.

What's the point of them? The "state of the Union" is obvious, and the President, whoever he or she may be, has political reasons not to actually talk about the "state of the Union".

I'm not interested in watching the architects of our State-caused miseries sit around and applaud themselves.

Chip Ahoy said...

Bush Jr. SOTU, it takes only about three minutes of "tuh" substituting for "to" to bend your ear into a pretzel.

R. Chatt said...

I've always thought the SOTU speech was supposed to be a progress report to the citizens on how we are proceeding on the goals we set last year, with obvious follow up suggestions on what we can do better in the coming year. I have no idea where I got an idea like that.

Instead it's all about the theatrics of how chummy the President is with all our elected big shots, making kissy face and huggy hug, etc., thus our rare opportunity to see Obama as "the big man in charge."

Paul said...

"Childish spectacle"? So Justice Scalia just figured this out?

All it has become is Pravada style propaganda. No one even cares how much the president lies right there to everyone's face.

edutcher said...

Chip Ahoy said...

Bush Jr. SOTU, it takes only about three minutes of "tuh" substituting for "to" to bend your ear into a pretzel.

You never sat through LBJ's "Intellectual Indigestion" speech.

wyo sis said...

"Whoever's writing Obama's speeches these days either has a tin ear – you don't "issue" goals, you set them – or he has a very refined sense of the ersatz nature of contemporary political discourse." Mark Steyn

How about both.

Bill R said...

SOTU - The narcissism and self congratulation of the Oscars, the good looks of an agricultural machinery sales convention, and the content pitched at the level of not-too-bright eighth graders.

Once again, Justice Scalia makes the correct ruling.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

If you are a King, you do issue goals. Shows the mindset of the present Administration.

JAL said...

I read somewhere that Obama bypassed Jon Faveau as speechwriter and got -- someone who used to work for Teddy Kennedy.

Yeah. That was it -- and here's more in The Atlantic: That speech [SOTU 2013] will have been "a collaborative process between the president and his speechwriter," White House spokesman Jay Carney noted last week during a press briefing, "in this case, Cody Keenan." He was "taking the lead on the speechwriting team for this and will be getting a higher profile in the weeks to come -- internally, anyway," Carney said. "But these are speeches that the president takes very seriously. He's a writer himself, so he engages at a very deep level on the framing of a speech, on the writing of it and the editing of it and the shaping of it. So that process continues."

So I don't know *why* Scalia thinks it's a childish display. Two professionals. Writing very hard.

That's why we watched Bill Murray in The Man Who Knew Too Little.

Darleen said...

"Childish spectacle"? So Justice Scalia just figured this out?

Paul

Scalia hasn't attended a SOTU in 16 years, so I assume he "figured this out" during the Bubba years.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Hmmm. Started reading the comments following the linked article; then the home page of the ABAJournal web site.

Looks to be the "People Magazine" of legal reportage.

machine said...

Stay classy San Diego!

Chuck said...

Chip Ahoy said...
"Bush Jr. SOTU, it takes only about three minutes of 'tuh' substituting for 'to' to bend your ear into a pretzel."

Wait just a minute. If I am understanding you correctly, you're objecting to Bush 43's diction.

I have found Bush 43's diction mild and comforting, in comparison to Obama's fake and phony dropped g's and his "tuhs" instead of "to's".

Obama, for all of his supposed blackness, was raised by and in a white family. He is much more than half white. He knows how to speak proper Anglicized English, it is what is natural to him. He drops his g's the way that Hillary Clinton does. It's an act. Hillary Clinton has enough self-respect to hardly ever do it, although she surely will, for votes, if she needs to.

I have little doubt but that the reason that Bobby Rush kicked Obama's half-white ass in the 2000 primary election for the Illinois 1st Congressional District was because the electorate thought that Obama sounded like a white guy. Bobby Rush, on the other hand, was one of them.

The Godfather said...

I've long thought that it's inappropriate for members of the Supreme Court to attend the SOTU address; it's a political address, and they are SUPPOSED TO BE non-political. I feel the same about the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And by the way: If I were advising Obama, I would tell him (among a great many other things) to stop giving so many speeches. Some people have given him the idea that he is an effective speaker. He may be, on occasion, but even a great orator (and he's not that) can become tiresome after awhile. The format of the SOTU address is made to order for boredom, so at the very least he should skip that speech, and then look for others to omit.

Robert Cook said...

Heh...Scalia "lending" dignity to an affair because he's in attendance?

harrogate said...

Only to very low information viewers would Scalia's presence "add dignity" to the SOTU. Viewers that don't know who Scalia is, but who would say oh, there's a Supreme Court justice sitting there.

Think about it. For whom would Scalia's presence add dignity. For Althouse and most of the people who write here, there is no way dignity could be added because they begin with the premise that the whole thing is to be mocked. They might admire Scalia but they would never say that an Obama SOTU had elements of dignity.

The counterpart of this contingent is those who both like Obama and know who Scalia is. For this group, the latter's presence would hardly add dignity to anything, let alone the SOTU.

Scalia is a legend in his own mind. I will give him that.

Robert Cook said...

The SOTU is, of course, a pageant of lies, obfuscation, dissembling, self-congratulations, and more lies.

It's an American tradition!

Broomhandle said...

True dat!

Broomhandle said...

True dat!

Goju said...

Bobby Rush also relied heavily on indentifying Obama as half African/half white - not half black. Makes a difference to black Americans.

bagoh20 said...

It certainly is an uncomfortable thing to watch. Even leaving out who the President happens to be, it's usually a very dishonest production. I think Scalia's description is spot on. It should be dropped, and I would not attend if I was him. There is nothing ever reported that isn't already known, and what gets said is always self-serving. We have campaigns for that, and nobody should serve on the President's campaign if they don't want to.

kentuckyliz said...

We mock because we love.

Fave moment last time: you lie!

I'd love to see a brawl break out.

Penny said...

"The SOTU is, of course, a pageant of lies, obfuscation, dissembling, self-congratulations, and more lies.

It's an American tradition!"

It is, Cookie! And one of the reason's that I have always enjoyed watching it over the years.

I put the lies in the background, and focus on the body language and the movement and the clapping and the back slaps and my pride in America.

I like that so many have shown their willingness to slap on their happy faces and be polite enough for JUST ONE NIGHT.

The next day? Hey. Back to the business of divided government and conflicting agendas. Just as it should be.

Alex said...

harrogate - to what does Obama add dignity?

Anthony said...

It's just more of the general descent of the presidency into Zaphod Beebulbrox territory.

Anthony said...

It's just more of the general descent of the presidency into Zaphod Beebulbrox territory.

Astro said...

Anthony said... It's just more of the general descent of the presidency into Zaphod Beebulbrox territory.

More like Idiocracy. I think.

Freder Frederson said...

How is Scalia showing up to anything lending dignity to it? He sure has a high opinion of himself for someone who flips off (and I realize he didn't raise his middle finger, but the gesture he used is the equivalent) people in public.

steven gregson said...

I fail to see how Scalia's presence could lend dignity to anything.

steven gregson said...

I fail to see how Scalia's presence could lend dignity to to anything!

Cinderellastory said...

A week or so ago we were concerned if Dr. Ben Carson was disrespectful to the (office of) President during his speech. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and we are concerned if the President is being disrespectful to us with his delivery of the State of the Union Address. Respect is a two way street.

Henry said...

Good for Scalia.