The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 13, 2013

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


"This is like the Golden Globes, the Oscars, this is the equivalent in Washington. It's like the White House correspondents' dinner and the State of the Union have morphed into one event," she said, later making an outdated crack about a viral video of David Hasselhoff eating hamburgers off a floor. They were miserable. Never forget that these are the best times to watch Fox, when they are miserable. (See: Rove, Ohio results.) They have a lot of suffering left in them.

One intriguing alternative to watching dumb ol' television was to view the State of the Union through the prism of the White House's own streaming video network (which is also possible through its YouTube channel).

Here, the State of the Union (henceforth known as #SOTU, please) was split-screened and adorned with a dazzling array of maps, percentages, dollar amounts, pie charts and bar graphs — attributed in inscrutably tiny type — all rendered in the agreed-upon san-serif text and color schemes of modern-day wonkdom. What I learned: Americans spend 6 billion hours a year working on their tax returns. (Whaaaat?) The standoff on the debt ceiling costs in added interest over 10 years. (Arrrgh!) U.S. energy-related C02 emissions are way down! Immigrants represent 33 percent of the nation's engineers! Is all of this true, or is it true enough? One's eyes and ears are so easily crammed with TV, Twitter and whatever else.

The Twitterverse's value makes itself known during a #SOTU when it hears and sees things in a way you forget to notice or are ill-equipped to notice. Right away, everyone picked up and fashion-policed the Easter egg symmetry of the neckties worn by the president, the vice president and the speaker of the House; but a well-curated Twitter feed will also alert you to this clunker in the middle of Obama's speech: "We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence."

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