This post has been updated.
On Tuesday, President Obama will deliver the 92nd State of the Union address. He will stand up in front of Congress, members of the Supreme Court, assembled guests and, of course, television cameras to provide his assessment of how the nation is faring and what he believes its priorities should be.
While he’s delivering this speech, however, there will be the requisite tie-color betting pool, the hawk-eyed observation of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Vice President Biden’s every facial twitch (Bonus points if Boehner cries, and extra bonus points if Biden does!), and analysis of what first lady Michelle Obama chose to wear.
But given how much tradition has emerged around the speech, isn’t it time that the State of the Union underwent an overhaul?
The practice of delivering the State of the Union is enshrined in the Constitution, but there are no requirements as to how or even when, exactly, the president should “give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
The president, for example, is not required to carry out this duty with the pomp and circumstance that is now traditionally practiced. He doesn’t need to glad-hand down the aisle of the House, or single out invited guests in the gallery. He doesn’t even need to go to the Capitol. And the speech doesn’t have to last very long. In fact, the shortest State of the Union is still that of the nation’s first president, George Washington, which clocked in at a mere 1,089 words.
Now, imagine if Washington had Twitter?
There’s something to be said for the 140-character limit, which Obama has at his disposal. There’s also nothing stopping Obama from delivering the State of the Union in animated gifs, or as a Tumblr. As long as he sends it to Congress every once in a while, the State of the Union could, technically, take on just about any form. Now, would it be a challenge to convey the state of the union in 140 characters? Sure. But given the length of past addresses, speechwriters would argue 1,089 words is approaching impossible. But boiling down the address to a tweet could certainly force people to focus on the content, especially considering this could be, as the Fix’s Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake write, the “most important State of the Union of his entire presidency.”
Since it’s unlikely that the president will forego the limelight offered by the traditional State of the Union delivery style, we’re asking you to give it a shot. Craft your own State of the Union in 140 characters or less, and tweet it at us (@oninnovations) or me (@emikolawole) with the hashtag #SOTweetU (see what I did there?). Give it a try and see if you can best the president on the brevity front this year.Tweet #SOTweetU
Updated Feb. 13 12:00AM: Here are some good ones I’ve seen so far:
More cooperation, less partisan games. Concentrate on infrastructure, education, unemployment. Fix deficit, leave Afghanistan. #SoTweetU— New Girl (@renedugar) February 12, 2013
Gun control good. GOP/Dems must work together. More jobs. Reduce deficit. Better schools. Drones protect our troops/keeps us safe #SoTweetU— Angelia N. Levy (@angelialevy) February 12, 2013
The time has passed for politics & blame, we need to act like the grown-ups people elected. Work with me. Work for America. #SOTweetU— Jack Griffith (@jackjackaroo) February 12, 2013
Get fiscal house in order, reform tax code, reform immigration policy, and keep Ted Nugent off the air. #SOTweetU— Mary (@MaryAtSage) February 12, 2013
#SOTWEETU cut spending, balance budget, Congres, VP, Prez no pay, follow Constitution & Law, secure borders, reduce welfare/food stamp roles— Tom Bishop (@ltb537) February 11, 2013
And this user raises an excellent point:
So feel free to point us to your original tweet with a secondary one!
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