During last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama delivered a rather scathing, ad-libbed response to some rather impolitic applause from certain Republicans in the room.
“I have no more campaigns to run.”
That sentence brought some derisive laughter and applause from a few people in the room, presumably Republicans.
After the applause and laughter died down, Obama delivered an ad-libbed response.
“I know, because I won both of them.”
Ad-libbed responses during presidential speeches, particularly State of the Union (SOTU) addresses, are unheard-of. For a speech as important and scrutinized as an SOTU, every sentence, every word, every punctuation mark is carefully and meticulously weighed by a cadre of professional speechwriters. Then the speech is practiced, practiced, and practiced some more.
So for a president to deliver such a poignant, off-the-cuff remark is a either a stroke of genius, or at the very least a clever example of thinking on one’s feet, depending on your point of view.
Lawmakers in Washington live by a different set of protocols than you and I. Politicians who hate each other will refer to each other as “The Gentleman from Texas” or “my esteemed colleague,” even in run-of-the-mill, mundane business such as committee meetings. So this level of politeness is especially important in solemn situations that demand decorum, such as a State of the Union address. Even if you have a negative opinion of the President (and my opinion of Barack Obama can most charitably be described as “unfavorable”), derisively applauding when he makes a certain remark is nothing short of childish.
The full text of Obama’s State of the Union address can be read here.
[Image courtesy of: Forbes]