by Meg Storm
As most conservatives and Republicans expected, last night’s State of the Union proved to be nothing more than a continuation of the leftist rhetoric President Obama has been spewing for months on the campaign trail and beyond.
Instead of analyzing the content of the State of the Union address (during which President Obama attempted to justify his spending habits, fudged the numbers to make the economy seem a lot better off than it actually is, and talked about how he just wants everyone to pay his fair share), let’s take a look at a much more entertaining topic – how the internet responded to the night’s festivities.
Just a quick note on the history of the State of the Union: Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution requires the president to "from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” As a result, some version of the State of the Union has existed since President George Washington.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to formally refer to the event as the “State of the Union,” though the term did not take hold until President Harry Truman’s address in 1947. Coincidently, Truman’s speech was also the first to be televised.
The State of the Union moved to primetime in 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson decided it would help him get a larger viewing audience. The 1966 State of the Union was also the first to receive a “response” from the opposition, with House GOP leader Gerald Ford giving the Republican’s side of the story.
As the State of the Union continued to try to keep up with the times, President George W. Bush’s 2002 address was the first to be streamed online. Two years later, Bush’s State of the Union became the first ever to be broadcast in HD. Over the last few years, given the rise of social media and President Obama’s success with tools like Facebook and Twitter, the State of the Union has graduated to the big leagues – receiving its very own Twitter hashtag, #SOTU, which makes it even easier for people to talk about the speech.
WhiteHouse.gov wasted no time asking for what they like to call “citizen response” to Obama’s remarks, launching the “Enhanced State of the Media” interactive experience.
The service allows viewers to read through a transcript of Obama’s speech, highlight their “favorite passage of the speech that is meaningful” to them, tell the President how they are “connected to the issue,” and then “share that part of the speech” with family and friends. How fun?
Additionally, the new “enhanced” video of the State of the Union includes graphs and charts to support the President’s claims. Based on a quick scanning of the video, the graphics do not seem to be based in any particular fact. Below is a screenshot from the part of the speech about deficit reduction:
On the Twitter front, #SOTU was trending nationally throughout the speech and into Wednesday morning. As usual, there was plenty of political commentary, fact checking, and jesting from the right and left.
With just a few hours to go before the big event, President Obama tweeted out a photo from his official account of him and his advisers prepping for the speech:
The White House also got in on the action, posting photos of the President with some of the more noteworthy quotes from the speech:
The Heritage Foundation, perhaps in response to the style of the White House tweets, also published photos of the President with some of the more ironic quotes of the night.
While President Obama was the primary focus of most the commentary, Republicans were by no means spared. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was one star of the night. His demeanor throughout Obama’s speech was disinterested at best, and, because he was seated next to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, Cruz got a lot of face time during the broadcast. Michelle Malkin tweeted this photo of Cruz:
Finally, perhaps the most “newsworthy” moment of night (based on the mainstream media’s coverage) came during Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) delivery of the GOP response. During the already slightly awkward speech, Rubio apparently became parched and reached for a water bottle that seemed to be pretty far out of reach. It quickly became clear that this moment would be the only thing anyone would remember from the speech.
Immediately following the speech, Rubio made light of the situation, having his aid, Todd Harris, tweet out this photo, with the caption "I am now the proud owner of the most famous water bottle in American politics":
So there you have it. That's a quick recap of some of the more memorable digital moments from the night, which hopefully provided a respite from the endless analysis and dissection of the speech that is occupying just about every news outlet.