SOTU: Cue The Silly Arguments And Sound Bites

Tonight the President delivered a rather typical State of the Union speech. That is not a judgment as to its content, but recognition that most State of the Union speeches have the same political goals. The President covered the territory that he regards as his priorities and exhibited the requisite measure of empathy for the difficulties many Americans are enduring. He also balanced his resolve to continue fighting for his health care and jobs programs, with a nod to his trademark (and pointless) affinity for bipartisanship.

But this is the part that stood out for me:

“Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions – our corporations, our media, and yes, our government – still reflect these same values. […] The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away. No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there. No wonder there’s so much disappointment.”

And with that the silly arguments and sound bites ensued. It hardly mattered what the President said because the reactions from the TV pundits were as predictable as the sunrise. Charles Krauthammer didn’t think the speech was presidential. Chris Matthews forgot for an hour that the President was black. And Sarah Palin – oh hell, I couldn’t really figure out what she was trying to say. Her run-on gibberish mentioned something about him being condescending toward Republicans, but it was impossible to translate into English.

I can, however, empathize with the President’s frustration with the media. But it may be naive to expect much to change. Fox News is not likely to abandon their mission now that they have successfully created the world’s first Pavlovian network. Their viewers have been carefully trained to salivate when the bell rings. Just this afternoon Glenn Beck exhorted his audience to avoid the speech altogether:

“You don’t even have to watch the State of the Union. I’ll watch it for you.”

See how easy it is to understand the world when you have people like Glenn Beck to do all the messy work of actually having to be conscious? And talk about your silly arguments…Beck’s certainly got that covered.