Thursday, February 1, 2018

I didn’t watch State of State (or Union)

I’m sure somebody out there will get outraged and want to call into question my credentials as a political-watching geek. But I didn’t bother to watch any of the government speechifying that took place this week.
Missed Rauner's 'State of State' rhetoric

I avoided the State of the Union address Tuesday night, meaning I didn’t hear Donald Trump’s nasally voice tell us how wonderful our nation would be – if only we’d just shut up and do what he tells us to do.

NOR DID I feel the need to watch the broadcasts of the State of the State address presented during the noon hour Wednesday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, whom I’m sure tried coming up with a way of saying essentially the same thing about Illinois while also droppin' some "g's" to make himself sound like the "common" man.

That, and “Blame Madigan!,” which seems to be the lone message Rauner has to say these days – and which I’m sure he will repeat all the way through to the Nov. 6 general election.

I’m sure some will want to criticize me by claiming I’m ignoring the serious messages these two elected officials have to present to us. They’ll use this to try to criticize anything I might want to say or think, by claiming I’m not following the “facts.”

To which I say “Nonsense!” I read a transcript of the Rauner address before he even gave it, and also enough summaries of what Trump had to say. I probably paid greater attention to the content than anybody who watched television.

THE FACT IS that what I don’t pay attention to are the actual broadcasts. I have no interest in watching this kind of stuff on television. I believe the impression we garner from television is distorted – to the point where I find it phony.

I’m reading enough accounts of the events to garner what was said, and much of the rebuttal – which in all honesty is canned rhetoric written in advance. Talking points that could have been spoken before either Trump or Rauner ever spoke.

Part of this attitude is because I have covered State of the State addresses presented by other Illinois governors, along with presidential events as equally staged as the State of the Union.
Missed the Trump show, and not sorry

Those events can be intriguing to watch, if you can see them presented live. Actually be there in the chambers of the Illinois Statehouse or on Capitol Hill can be a memorable experience.

PARTICULARLY SINCE ONE can see for themselves how all those rounds of applause at key points in the speeches are fake. They might as well erect “applause” signs to let the politicos know when to clap.

Also, the fact that the opposition party will usually go out of their way to sit silent while the chief executive speaks. Which in its own way can be as telling as anything they’d say.

You don’t pick up on any of this on television. You just get to watch a white guy in a suit reading off a teleprompter some pre-written material that politicos will interpret to believe whatever it is they want us all to think.

Which may well be what most offended some people about the administration of Barack Obama – it went against their sensibilities of what a president was supposed to look like, and which those who believe that “Make America Great Again” rhetoric think has been restored by Trump.

YES, I’LL WANT to read the details of what Trump and Rauner had to say. I believe I’ll learn more that way than by actually watching the broadcasts – which to be honest can be deadly dull television.

Something way too easily parodied – you just know we’re getting a Saturday Night Live sketch this weekend giving us a version of Trump’s speech played for laughs. Which will be more interesting than the actual speech presented by either man.
Was more interesting Tuesday than Trump
Then again, I watched reruns of “Murphy Brown” on Tuesday and “Welcome Back Kotter” on Wednesday, which gave me more laughs than I would have got from watching either Trump or Rauner.

Which could mean that if Mayor Rahm Emanuel were compelled to give a major address that was broadcast live, I’d likely be going in search of a “M*A*S*H” re-run. Maybe I’ll find that episode where Hawkeye and Trapper order ribs takeout to Korea from Adam’s Ribs, which supposedly had the best ribs in all of Chicago.


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