Sixteen presidents later, the answer to Wilson’s rhetorical question is: “Yeah, dude, it is an impertinent intrusion on my prime-time viewing.” In fact, so is every televised State of the Union/media extravaganza, because all contain echoes of Wilson’s turgid prose, fleeting promises, flawed predictions and self-serving rhetorical questions. In sum, none of these “Annual Messages” enlighten the American people as to whether Sheriff Jack will finally “get the message” from Assistant District Attorney Kathleen’s coquettish hints.
Fortunately for Wilson, some new developments have insulated his legacy from his new tradition’s impertinent intrusion on prime-time viewers. The Instant Age provides a multiplicity of media options other generations were denied. Consequently, we’re not bound by the major networks’ old monopoly on prime-time entertainment. There are ways for us to be entertained Tuesday night.
Ironically, this also applies to the president’s “Annual Message.” Our age provides unprecedented technological tools that empower Americans to make their own determinations about the state of the Union — and to express their views on achieving a more perfect one. So do Americans still need the State of the Union speech aired live when they can find it online at their convenience?
Regardless, until the day President Obama or one of his successors starts the truly new tradition of an “Annual Email to Congress,” President Wilson’s somnambulant prime-time television legacy should keep his apologists awake at night (unlike State of the Union viewers).
Because Vincent Savino brooks no disrespect.
Guitarist Thaddeus G. McCotter is a recovering Congressbum and counsel at the Detroit law firm of Ottenwess, Allman & Taweel, PLC.