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Tags: Barack Obama | SOTU 2015 | cyber age | Washington tradition

In Cyber Era, Is State of the Union Speech Still Relevant?

In Cyber Era, Is State of the Union Speech Still Relevant?
(Larry Downing/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 20 January 2015 12:30 PM

Some are questioning the relevancy of the president's annual State of the Union address.

In the cyber age, with the speed of social media platforms like Twitter to deliver a message, the pomp and circumstance associated with the yearly address to a joint gathering of Congress seems outdated, noted The Washington Post, as President Barack Obama prepares to speak to the nation Tuesday night.

"In 1789, it was perhaps useful to remind the president of the importance of keeping Congress (then numbering fewer than 100 people) up to speed on what was happening in the nation on the whole," wrote Post reporter Phillip Bump in a cheeky analysis of what he sees as a perhaps old-fashioned tradition.

"The utility of that has declined significantly, what with Twitter and such," Bump added. "President Woodrow Wilson began the idea of giving those updates in a speech, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the State of the Union a spectacle. And once a spectacle is begun in Washington, it's got inertia."

The much-dissected speech, which causes political eye-rolling even with its history, does little to give the president a ratings bump, the Post noted

Viewership has declined, even as population has risen, with Bill Clinton drawing 45.8 million in 1994 across four networks, while Obama earned just 33.3 million viewers last year on 13 networks, the Post reported.

Regardless, Obama is set to speak about economic recovery after his six years in office, which kicked off with a massive recession at the beginning of his presidency. He will also "reset goals," The New York Times noted in a preview of his 2015 address, which is expected to focus on helping the still-struggling middle class.

"For the first time, we have numbers that kind of bust out of the Great Recession Era," noted NBC/WSJ co-pollster Bill McInturff of the 9 p.m. speech, citing a new joint poll from NBC News-Wall Street Journal that found 45 percent of Americans saying they were satisfied with the current economy.

Likely the speech will continue because of sheer tradition, the Post noted of the spectacle.

"We have the speech because it is Tradition, and that Tradition reflects the Importance of the Office," the Post noted. "So Obama walks onto the House floor, passing through an effusive crowd of legislators as they imagine themselves making that same walk, and the Great Spectacle of Washington is upheld."

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Politics
In the cyber age, with the speed of social media platforms like Twitter to deliver a message, the pomp and circumstance associated with the yearly address to a joint gathering of Congress seems outdated, noted The Washington Post.
cyber age, Washington tradition
398
2015-30-20
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 12:30 PM
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