Don Wolfensberger at The Hill:
Washington Post columnist David Von Drehle wrote on Feb. 5 that the time has come to pull the plug on the president’s live State of the Union addresses (SOTU) before joint sessions of Congress. And that was two days before the latest spectacle unfolded in the House chamber.
After watching that most recent boisterous dust-up play-out last Tuesday evening, I have been converted to the Von Drehle solution: it is time for SOTU to go solo from the Oval Office, with written copies sent to the Hill by courier. That’s how it was done for the entirety of the 19th century and into the second decade of the 20th century. The old ways are sometimes rediscovered as being the better approach after all.
One writer made a similar point four years ago:
If the president really wants to provide Congress and the public with information about the country’s condition, there are better ways to do it. A written document or a web page can provide far more detail than an hour-long speech. If the president prefers to deliver an oration, a YouTube video will do just fine. Presidents like the State of the Union because they think it gives them a political boost. There is little evidence, however, that these speeches have a major long-term impact on public opinion. Their approval rating depends on the actual state of the union, not speeches about the state of the union. Over the years, the State of the Union has degenerated into a reality show. Democrats clap for this, Republicans clap for that, and the president tries to score rhetorical points against critics. When the speech makes partisan point about the courts or the armed forces, the people in judicial robes and military uniforms are silently uncomfortable, knowing that they cannot respond. The whole mess would appall the Founders.