State Of The Union Ethics: The SOTU Is Dead, And Nancy Pelosi Killed it.

I want to be very clear about this.

“Does the State of the Union speech matter anymore? Here’s what an expert says,” asks a headline at Yahoo News. The “expert” is Jeff Shesol, a historian, former-deputy chief speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, and a partner at West Wing Writers. Naturally Yahoo, whose bias is open and unrestrained, made sure it chose a partisan Democrat for its expert. Heaven forbid that it would seek an objective opinion, which would have to lay the destruction of the State of the Union as anything more than a needless reminder of how dysfunctional the federal government has become squarely at the previous Speaker’s feet.

The one bit of condign justice, to again borrow George Will’s favorite term, is that Nancy managed to destroy what was once a useful Presidential tool for building public consensus and, most important of all, bolstering trust in our Republic so thoroughly that her own party’s President can’t make use of it—and he needs the help desperately.

Good job, Nancy.

Shesol correctly notes that Washington and Adams gave yearly SOTU speeches to Congress, but Jefferson ended the practice “because he thought it seemed too kingly to stand in front of the Legislature and have it sort of behold his majesty.”  Jefferson never understood the Presidency (he was, in fact, a poor one except for lucking into the Louisiana Purchase), and apparently neither does Shesol. (The speech was eventually revived by Woodrow Wilson, who did understand the Presidency.)The tradition lies squarely in the part of the Presidency’s hybrid status reserved for the head of state and the human symbol of our government: the king analogy is apt, and important.  It is an opportunity  o model symbolic respect for the nation and its audacious system, and for all branches to display dignity, mutual respect, professionalism and a shared purpose. When held in that context, the State of the Union always strengthened the President, whoever he was and however fraught with conflict his position had become. It strengthened the image of Congress as well.

Once, however, the Democrats, under Pelosi’s malign and irresponsible influence (she should be recorded  as one of the true villains in our history, though “experts” like Shesol will work hard to prevent it) , decided to withhold the most basic and elemental symbolic respect from President Trump (not only at the SOTU but, as we know, in all other matters and forums as well)—never applauding, sitting stony-faced, Pelosi engaging in open mockery like her sarcastic alligator-clapping and, most destructive of all, tearing up President Trump’s speech text on live television—the tradition had been permanent leeched of its positive value. I fully expect the Republicans to do all they can to show as much contempt for President Biden as they can muster, knowing that the media will criticize them for doing so.  Pelosi’s disgusting behavior was given a near-total pass. I know, it’s an old tale by now after six years of such double standards.

The stunning irony is that one of the most-repeated themes of the Left’s efforts to deny President Trump the opportunity to govern that his election should have ensured was that he “undermined and defied democratic norms.” Yet no “democratic norm” was so recklessly savaged as in the Democratic Party’s Machiavellian effort to undermine Trump by turning the once-unifying pageant of the State of the Union into an ugly piece of hateful partisan theater.

29 thoughts on “State Of The Union Ethics: The SOTU Is Dead, And Nancy Pelosi Killed it.

  1. I have to disagree. The SOTU has long since devolved into a campaign speech during which the President’s party applauds wildly, and the other party sits on its hands. It has been on life support for many, many years now.

    All that Pelosi’s disgraceful behavior did was disconnect the ventilator from its power supply. Perhaps we should be grateful.

  2. I remember just how confused and disoriented Pelosi looked just before she tore up the speech, staring blankly forward. I honestly thought for a moment she was having some sort of spasm (purposefully tearing up the speech didn’t immediately occur to me). Looking at one of the videos, I think the cameraman thought the same because he quickly panned away, hoping to avoid an embarrassing moment.

    She couldn’t even perform her a disrespectful guesture competently. She looked like Grampa Simpson yelling at a cloud. She made an ass of herself, and only ‘impressed’ those who agreed with her. (Accusing Trump of flushing documents down the toilet doesn’t even seem so absurd when the speaker robotics destroys the space on live TV. All she did was make ass of herself and the speaker’s chair.

      • The only thing I can say is that the Democrats kind of brought this on themselves. They never seem to consider that what they do today might come back to bite tomorrow. Harry Reid eliminated the 60-vote threshold for appointments and it came back to bite. In fact it may have been at least partially responsible for the fall of Roe v. Wade. Nancy declared political war on Trump and tore up a copy of his speech in full view of the nation. There is really no basis for the Democrats to complain when their guy is treated with something like, the same level of disrespect. The Democrats looked the other way on and even encourages summer 2020, and in the future they may well have no moral high ground to stand on when the same level of violence is visited on their constituents. If you have the chance to stem the tide and you don’t, whose fault is it when later it sweeps you away? If you can stop the fire in your neighbor’s house and you don’t, do you really have anything to complain about when the sparks set your house aflame? The idea was that we Americans united when there was a problem that affected us all, or that we showed up for one another when there was a need. Now the idea seems to be that misfortune is bad luck when you suffer it, but good luck when the side you don’t agree with suffers it. The idea also has become that it’s ok for you to do anything and everything, since you are right, but an outrage when the other side does it, because they are wrong. That includes political violence, but not enforcing the law.

        I’m very interested in seeing where this will all lead. I compare it often to the Troubles in Ireland, although a few people I know swear up and down it’s NOTHING like that period of conflict. Funny, but those people never try to explain why, and usually have last names that tell you all you need to know. What’s even funnier is that the left find it convenient to be the intellectuals who continually reexamine everything and are always “evidence-based” when it’s convenient, and also to be those who simply believe strongly and act on their beliefs when it is convenient.

          • This is not exactly “they asked for it,” with all due respect. This is “logical consequences” where someone starts something despite knowing or being in a position to know what has a good chance of resulting if the process is started, then starting anyway despite knowing this. That person does not then get to complain when those consequences result.

  3. Less we forget. This is part of what Nancy tore up.

    It succinctly and passionately stated the belief of tens of millions of Americans’ as to what the country represents to them, but it was not her belief, and she could not let this sentiment stand unchallenged.

    2020 SOTU Address – Conclusion

    As the world bears witness tonight, America is a land of heroes. This is the place where greatness is born, where destinies are forged, and where legends come to life. This is the home of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, of many great Generals, including Washington, Pershing, Patton, and MacArthur. This is the home of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and so many more. This is the country where children learn names like Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett, and Annie Oakley. This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo.

    The American Nation was carved out of the vast frontier by the toughest, strongest, fiercest, and most determined men and women ever to walk the face of the Earth. Our ancestors braved the unknown; tamed the wilderness; settled the Wild West; lifted millions from poverty, disease, and hunger; vanquished tyranny and fascism; ushered the world to new heights of science and medicine; laid down the railroads, dug out canals, raised up the skyscrapers — and, ladies and gentlemen, our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic ever to exist in all of human history. And we are making it greater than ever before!

    This is our glorious and magnificent inheritance.

    We are Americans. We are the pioneers. We are the pathfinders. We settled the new world, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.

    America is the place where anything can happen! America is the place where anyone can rise. And here, on this land, on this soil, on this continent, the most incredible dreams come true!

    This Nation is our canvas, and this country is our masterpiece. We look at tomorrow and see unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored. Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun!

    Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!

    Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless America.

  4. While I’d rather get the coming civil war over with before my kids are older, I don’t want to skip past the part where congressman are brawling on the floor of the senate and house…

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