Your RDA of Irony

Strait of the Union

Tomorrow the President will be delivering three speeches: the unread, the unintelligible and the unconscious.

The unread will be the official transcript, an attempt at soaring eloquence and a litany of belabored alliteration. This historic document will be larded with quotations by Plato, Thomas Aquinas, John Stuart Mill and Frederick Douglass, all of whom will personally endorse the President’s tax policies. The official text is available in the Library of Congress and might be of interest only to Michael Beschloss and the speechwriter’s family.

The unintelligible will be the actual speech. Given the President’s indifference to diction and overt hostility to coherence, the speech will sound like outtakes from “The Beverly Hillbillies.” As is customary among members of Congress, the Republicans will applaud at an interval of 40 syllables; the Democrats after 120.

In most circumstances, an audience could guess the topic by reading those subliminal slogans plastered in the background whenever the President speaks. Designed to indoctrinate even when the VCR is on fast forward, these jingles pithily convey a medley of noble sentiments such as “Excellenting Education” and “Patrioting the Economy.”

The President could be reciting the dirty version of “Louie, Louie” but the audience would only hear what it reads. Unfortunately, in the State of the Union speech, the audience does not have the advantage of explanatory wallpaper. We must wait until the pundits tell us what we heard.

Until then, we have the distraction of guessing who is next to Laura Bush in the Visitors’ Gallery. These pop-up figures will be introduced during the speech as the personification of the President’s themes. This year we may see the stuffed-and-mounted Saddam Hussein. There certainly will be at least one veteran of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Count on the White House to find the perfect one: a Hispanic creationist stockbroker who survived a third-term abortion.

Then, the Democrats will attempt a response. A pleasant enough governor will offer lukewarm platitudes while the public switches channels or goes to the washroom. If the Democrats want an audience, they do have appealing advocates. Imagine Susan Sarandon asking the audience to stare at her chest while she discusses healthcare and the environment. Think of Julia Roberts defending a woman’s right to choice in the event of being raped by Antonin Scalia.

After the speeches, the pundits will explain them to you. You will be confronted with a panel of experts consisting of a shrill Republican (Anne Coulter, if you couldn’t guess), a pugnacious Republican congressman, a moderate Republican (someone who would prefer Eleanor Roosevelt to Mussolini) and Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan. Any Democratic voice would presumably be the “liberal media” moderator.

No one will acknowledge the Democratic speech. However, you will learn that the President’s speech was a masterful display of statesmanship and eloquence. As usual, with a straight face that must require Botox, Noonan will proclaim that the President was “Churchillian.” In fact, if you remember what the pundits said last year, you won’t need to listen now.

  1. Bob Kincaid says:

    Just once, I’d like to see my party play a little hardball, and maybe walk out en masse from the charade. Maybe at the first mention of “we must complete the mission in Eye-rack.”

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