The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 13, 2013

State of the Union: #SOTU, reaching the peanut gallery

By Hank Stuever

The Washington Post

Beamed far into outer space by now, analyzed and tweeted to death within seconds of its delivery, another State of the Union address by President Barack Obama fell on admiring and disgusted ears Tuesday night. You could almost feel it being lost to the ages in real time, in a nation where practically everyone is checking to see whether their last comment was retweeted or not. (I think my favorite RT of the evening was from @TheTweetOfGod: "I was trying to come up with a neat way of saying John Boehner looks like a constipated apricot but I couldn't.")

Like many of you, I can no longer watch important live televised addresses now without the wit and wisdom of the many virtual friends who live in my iPhone. How funny we can be, stopping the wisecracks and the spot fact-checking long enough to appropriately acknowledge the president's "They deserve a vote" refrain for grieving survivors of victims of gun violence. We go from snark to somber so fast. It's exhausting and also distracting.

This president and his successors will struggle against this for decades — obeying the formal theatrics of the State of the Union address, while speaking to a global audience of wired weirdos. Even when most Americans may be receptive to the message, we've just become too distractible to be a good audience.

Nevertheless, the president confidently delivered a speech filled with a steady stream of second-term proposals and hopeful visions. In an address that was twice as long (in total words) as his rousing inauguration address three weeks ago, some melodious lines emerged about the middle class, about what sort of jobs we all might have in the future if we get our act together, about raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour.

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