Here’s a quiz. “[A] populist pep rally that’s constantly interrupted by applause.” This statement refers to
A. The shameful quadrennial nominating conventions of the Democratic and Republican Parties.
B. The constitutionally mandated State of the Union Address.
C. The Oscars.
It could be any of the three. There’s too much clapping in our society, not enough listening. This goes for your local PTA meeting as well as the annual presentation of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But Gene Healy of the Cato Institute was talking about the State of the Union speeches. “In our constitutional system,” he recently explained in a Cato Weekly Video, “Congress is supposed to be the lead dog and the dominant branch. And they really shouldn’t be jumping up out of their seats to clap at every outsized promise like they’re members of the Supreme Soviet cheering a new grain quota.”
Healy says that next year, when Obama must offer up the annual State of the Union, he should begin the speech by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, please hold your applause till the end.”
I say, go further. Do like Thomas Jefferson did: Write up the report and send it to Congress. A public speech is not required.
And if Barack Obama cannot stand giving up the chance to use his golden voice and silver tongue, then deliver the speech as a podcast, for Congress to watch on their iPods.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.