State of the Union becomes #StateOfAwful

By Copy Chief

The Constitution states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Though its forms have varied across American history—written messages, radio addresses—the State of the Union is a hallmark of the presidency. It is an opportunity for the commander-in-chief to set standards and expectations for the political year, as well as a chance to rally support and inspire change.

But in a world of disillusioned, disgruntled and tech-savvy individuals, the State of the Union hardly holds any weight among Americans—at least according to the buzz on Twitter.

Approximately 2.1 million SOTU-related tweets were sent through the Twittersphere on the evening of Jan. 28, according to Nielsen SocialGuide. From average Joes and Janes to congressmen and B-list celebrities, everyone had something not-so-clever to say about President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

“I wish my boyfriend dressed like Joe Biden. #helookscrisp,” tweeted @HuntsmanMame, a self-proclaimed “Political Junkie, Classical Pianist, World Traveler, and Foodie.” @TheBrandonMorse, a “Texas born. Interweb cowboy conservatarian” who claims to have “weaponized ADD” translated for those of us lost in President Obama’s repetitive political rhetoric: “‘Get this motherf*ckin constitution off my mother*ckin agenda!’ – Obama #SOTU.”

“Imagine how much Obama’s approval rating would skyrocket if he and Michelle came out and re-enacted Jayoncé’s ‘Drunk In Love’ performance,” tweeted @jwoodham, who is both a “Human Bean” and “2Pac without a nose ring.”

And last but not least, @TXRandy14, real-life Texas Congressman Randy Weber, likened the president to something of a Nazi cook: “On floor of house waitin on ‘Kommandant-In-Chef’… the Socialistic dictator who’s been feeding US a line or is it ‘A-Lying?’”

The State of the Union, like any other largely-viewed televised event—33.3 million people watched the speech, according to—is an opportunity for anyone with Internet access to spit out quick one-liners that make people chuckle and retweet, but are as vapid as any tweets about Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber or any other washed-up teeny-bopper who strays from the path of righteousness. While Obama is a powerful speaker who has incredible speech writers at his beck and call, this SOTU—which had the potential to move a nation—and the possibility for real discussion will be lost to the Library of Congress’ Twitter archives and the media cesspool.

Yes, the State of the Union address is a publicity sham. It is a charade that all presidents must play: pontificate on the work that should be done but won’t be; cut the opposing party down to size; lull audiences into complacency with quaint anecdotes dug up by interns; parade around guests of honor as tools to prove points that are then lost in the ups and downs of Republicans and Democrats choosing what to stand and applaud for. After a frustrating 2013 with endless back-and-forths across Washington, D.C., any speech the president could have written would have inevitably been a stab at Congress, and Obama’s macho attitude was more a threat than a promise. The State of the Union is inherently pointless because if Congress was actually doing its job, the president would not have to tell the Representatives how all their “hard work” is going.

But even if all these things are true, the barrage of mocking and irreverent #SOTU tweets are a sign of the times. Too many people are too quick to judge, too quick to condemn, too quick to get in their two bits before someone else comes up with something more clever. There may have been articulate, constructive #SOTU tweets that offered opinions and ideas that could shape America’s future, but sifting through the slimy Twitter attention whores leaves one more hopeless than before the president even opened his mouth.

The hour of futile flexing and pointless political spanking in front of Congress was nothing more than Twitter bait couched in a televised spectacle. If he wanted to waste an hour, Obama might as well have taken to Twitter, delivering his presidential sermon with snarky hashtags and sassy selfies. Because if everyone else was doing it, why shouldn’t he?