Proposed: No State of the Union Rebuttal

The State of the Union address is one of the President’s constitutional duties. In 1966, the State of the Union speech was followed on television by a response (or rebuttal) from Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Representative Gerald Ford of Michigan. Over the next 15 years, the opposition party provide a response only four other times. Starting in 1982, however, it has become an annual affair. 

It is time for the “rebuttal” to end. We are no longer locked into network…

  1. John Peabody

    Good plan. After the President speaks from the lecturn, any opposition member pales in comparison, with or without a live audience. Just leave it alone.

  2. The King Prawn

    Perhaps there’s some way to make the President simply do his constitutional duty and report to Congress rather than grandstanding for the cameras and campaigning for his platform.

  3. Brian Clendinen

    Here here, I would also add the next Republican President needs to stop giving live State of Union Address. Wilson started it From Jeffersion to Wilson they were all letters.

    The State of union are pretty pointless as far as I am concerned. With the 24 hour news cycle I don’t really know the point. The only way I would agree to a state of union is if afterwords there was two or three hours of something along the lines of UK’s PM question and answer time but on the state of the union. Then I would pay to see that. Considering the media we have, letting the oppisition ask the leaders in power questions is well worth it.

  4. BrentB67

    Very good point. I can’t think of a single time the rebuttal has helped the other party’s situation.

  5. Whiskey Sam

    I can’t remember what was said in a single rebuttal.  Is there any evidence that it ever has any impact?  I have no problem scrapping the thing.

  6. Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C
    Brian Clendinen: Here here, I would also add the next Republican President needs to stop giving live State of Union Address. Wilson started it From Jefferson to Wilson they were all letters.

    The State of Union are pretty pointless as far as I am concerned. With the 24 hour news cycle I don’t really know the point.

    Oh, I’ll go further than that: the point is to give the president a platform with all the trappings of monarchy to promise untold things to us peasants.  It is the single least small-r republican aspect of our modern government and we should all be ashamed by participating.

  7. PJ

    Agreed.  Also agree with stopping the whole thing and going back to a letter.  That’s 90 minutes of our lives back every winter.

    Short of that, how about a “no applause until the end” rule?

  8. Brian Clendinen
    Tom Meyer

    Brian Clendinen: Here here, I would also add the next Republican President needs to stop giving live State of Union Address. Wilson started it From Jefferson to Wilson they were all letters.

    The State of Union are pretty pointless as far as I am concerned. With the 24 hour news cycle I don’t really know the point.

    Oh, I’ll go further than that: the point is to give the president a platform with all the trappings of monarchy to promise untold things to us peasants.  It is the single least small-r republican aspect of our modern government and we should all be ashamed by participating. · 1 minute ago

    That is very well put. Just shows how clueless the Republicans are on PR. They copy the Democrats with-out understand the underlying logic and reason behind a PR event. Therefore they  undermine the principles they claim to uphold because they don’t realize the act in its self is communicate a progressive principle. That is the medium is communicate a liberal position in of its self.

  9. SunnyOptimism

    State of the Union Address = Televised propaganda 

    I agree with the various comments here, do away with the televised address and send Congress a letter.  Problem is, our politicians these days have no humility, they salivate thinking about themselves standing in front of the camera…

  10. Daniel Frank

    I’ve never heard a better rubuttal of Obama anyway than, “You lie!” More timely, too.  Let’s skip the ritual rebuttal and go Code Pink in the Chamber.  Or at least withhold the applause altogether.

  11. Tim H.

    Amen.  I’ve hated the party responses since I was a kid.  I agree that there’s a lot of grandstanding by the President, but the responses are even worse, in that they fill no role other than grandstanding.

    And yes, if I were President, I’d prefer to deliver the State of the Union message as a letter.  I could convey a lot more information about the state with some tables in the Appendix, anyway, so it might even be useful.  Actually, I might deliver my first as a speech, as a kind of introduction to Congress, but the others I’d prefer as letters.

  12. Frustrated iPad User

    My theory is that it has become a place for up and comers to get to address the nation. I am no expert, but it looks to me like those presenting the rebuttal are a who’s who of hopefuls.  Wikipedia has a list of the presenters, better memories than mine might figure out how many later ran for President.

    For the record, I can’t recall any of the rebuttals making any positive ground. OTOH, a certain Louisiana Governor would be better off without the experience on his resume’.

  13. R. Craigen

    Instead of a rebuttal, an articulate conservative should simply recap the President’s speech in common language, translating the covert and flowery renditions of the marvels of runaway government growth, increased dependency, socialist utopia and demonization of political opponents and anyone who disagrees with him.  They should emphasize the number of times that Bush is identified as being responsible for the current hard times, how we must distance ourselves from and criticize our closest allies and cozy up to our fiercest enemies, offering one-sided accommodations with no hope of reciprocation.  And make explicit the divisive rhetoric designed to identity groups across gender, race, social and economic lines against each other.

    And then, without comment, end with “God bless … and have mercy upon … America.”

  14. Robert E. Lee

    If there was only some way to have Dave Carter give the rebuttal.  No one cares to hear yet another politician whining.  Dave, on the other hand, would give a working man’s view that would at least be entertaining.

  15. Whiskey Sam
    Robert E. Lee: If there was only some way to have Dave Carter give the rebuttal.  No one cares to hear yet another politician whining.  Dave, on the other hand, would give a working man’s view that would at least be entertaining. · 0 minutes ago

    Now that I would like to see!

  16. BigDumbJerk

    Small point of order: Article II, Section 3 of the Constitiution simply says that the President shall, from time to time, report to Congress the state of the union: this was done by (essentially) letter, or some form of written report, until (pace Jonah Goldberg) the world’s first Fascist leader, Woodrow Wilson, delivered an oratory. Even then, neither he nor the next few Presidents delivered *every* state of the union orally every year.So, no, I’m afraid the *Address * is not a Constitutional requirement, just the report.(Which is why, I *thought* the Prez hands manila envelopes stuffed with his speech to the Speaker of the House & the Senate President pro tempore [the Veep] – some sort of throwback or homage. I could be completely wrong, though. )

  17. Joseph Paquette
    BigDumbJerk: Small point of order: Article II, Section 3 of the Constitiution simply says that the President shall, from time to time, report to Congress the state of the union: this was done by (essentially) letter, or some form of written report, until (pace Jonah Goldberg) the world’s first Fascist leader, Woodrow Wilson, delivered an oratory. Even then, neither he nor the next few Presidents delivered *every* state of the union orally every year.So, no, I’m afraid the *Address * is not a Constitutional requirement, just the report.(Which is why, I *thought* the Prez hands manila envelopes stuffed with his speech to the Speaker of the House & the Senate President pro tempore [the Veep] – some sort of throwback or homage. I could be completely wrong, though. ) · 1 hour ago

    The report is the constitutional requirement.  He could send congress a copy of the sports illustrated swimsuit issue and meet the constitutional requirement.  But the address is now the norm even overhyped, but the rebuttal is classless. 

  18. Joseph Paquette
    The King Prawn: Perhaps there’s some way to make the President simply do his constitutional duty and report to Congress rather than grandstanding for the cameras and campaigning for his platform. · 2 hours ago

    Maybe by not making it a speech/counter speech it would elevate the event. 

  19. Joseph Paquette
    Whiskey Sam: I can’t remember what was said in a single rebuttal.  Is there any evidence that it ever has any impact?  I have no problem scrapping the thing. · 2 hours ago

    Thanks, It’s an idea that we should start pushing for next year. 

  20. Butters

    In an ideal world, sure. But this is one of the few opportunities to reach low information voters.

    I’ve said before, I think an intimate townhall with a conversational tone would be an awesome contrast to all this pomp.

    I really hope Rubio is thinking outside the box and won’t just speak to an empty room. The optics of that are just terrible.

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