Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snapshots from the State of the Union

President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union (SOTU) address to Congress.  The 6923 words spoken over 69 minutes formed an instructive word cloud.

2014 State of the Union Word Cloud (graphics: USA Today)
President Obam  wanted to emphasis work, newness and make Congress.  Note that the word cloud excluded common English words like "I".  But to be fair, Mr. Obama seems to have done a better job at being self referential  as unofficial Twitter total count: 50 "I"s, 11 "mys" and 8 "me"s.

When Vice President Joe Biden was not resting his eyes, he often had a demonic grin which would scare trick or treaters at Halloween. 

The President made plenty of acknowledgments during his State of the Union speech,  including prefunctory welcomes to the grandees gathered in the House Chamber, as well as eleven guests which the White House brought to focus on  Mr. Obama's stated priorities.  It is ironic that the Obama Administration made a big deal about having former pro basketball player Jayson Collins in the Presidential box, presumably because of his very public declaration of his sexual preferences last Spring.  

Jayson Collins sitting near Michelle Obama at 2014 State of the Union Address

Yet Collins did not even merit a shout out by name, only to be a prop for the Obama Administration's concern about homosexual rights as America participates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian Federation.

To make his point about how there can be upward mobility in America from humble origins, President Obama stopped using composite parables and credited House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH 8th) with rising from being son of a bar keep.

Speaker Boehner's silent thumbs up seemed like a response which seemed reminiscent of his late night television appearances.  It is unclear if Mr. Boehner blushed due to his deep tan.

The State of the Union audience was less contrarian than when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC 2nd) shouted "You lie" at Mr. Obama September, 2009 speech before a Joint Session of Congress.  Supreme Court Associate Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas chose not to attend, but this is understandable considering how Mr. Obama attacked the High Court in 2010 during that State of the Union Speech. 

But this did not mean that there was an abundance of decorum for the State of the Union.   Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CN 2nd) stood up and pumped her fists in the air during prized passages of the speech. 

[C] Rep. Rosa DeLauro,  [front L] Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee [back C] Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz hardily cheering President Obama's 2014 State of the Union speech

But at least Rep. DeLauro's animated atta boys drew attention to some hideous coifs and outfits in the Chamber. 

President Obama used a more restrained tone in delivering his State of the Union speech, often opting for the emphatic horse whisper to underline his points.  However, Frank Luntz's focus panel thought that Mr. Obama's delivery lacked passion and credulity.  In fact, the Luntz group noted that Mr. Obama kept mispronouncing the proposed My-IRA program and then expected the audience to intuit the parameters of the policy.

There was a torrent of passion displayed at the end of President Obama's State of the Union address as he pointed to the Presidential box, where First Lady Michelle Obama was sitting besides 30 year old Army Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsberg, a Ranger who served ten tours in Afghanistan who was severely injured by an IED in 2009. 

[Front row 2nd L] Army Ranger Cory Remsberg at the 2014 State of the Union address

Assuredly the alluvia of applause from the attendees was not for the First Lady's dress.

There were two other noteworthy events attached to this year's State of the Union speech.  One of the attendees of the speech was Will Robinson, invited by Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA 5th).  Robinson was attired in what he would typically wear on Duck Dynasty, as seen shaking hands with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st).

Another noteworthy moment needs to be seen to be believed.   As part of the post State of the Union spin, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY 11th) gave an interview to NY 1.  When the reporter went off script and asked about the Congressman's fundraising controversy, Grimm reacted harshly.  

At first, Rep. Grimm walked off the interview, then he reproached the reporter with threats which sounded like it was from the Sopranos.

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