Four reasons why this SOTU could be a snore

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2011 file-pool photo, President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington. Is “strong” losing its strength? Presidents of both parties have long felt compelled to sum up the state of the union with a descriptive word or two in their State of the Union addresses. Mostly the same word. For many years now, “strong” has been the go-to adjective. Vice President Joe Biden is at left, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is at right. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File-Pool)
President Obama  during his 2011 address, back when bipartisan seating was all the rage.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File-Pool)

For those of us who enjoy the pageantry of the State of the Union, we can only hope for a spontaneous eruption of, well, something to keep this from becoming Washington’s version of the Grammys: a well-intentioned ceremony that goes on far too long.We’re ever hopeful that the SOTU will surprise us, as it has before, but until that “axis of evil” line is dropped or until a Supreme Court Justice gets visibly annoyed, these are the reasons we’re not anticipating a barnburner:

  •  Few celebs — Last year, rocker and conservative provocateur Ted Nugent, who was the guest of Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) provided a sideshow. This year, Stockman invited a polite young man who, despite having potentially potent political symbolism – he was heralded as an Obamacare success story but later admitted he hadn’t actually enrolled — seems less excitable than an angry old rock star. One bold face name among the more obscure guest list: openly gay NBA player Jason Collins will be sitting in the first lady’s box. UPDATE! Duck Dynasty is coming! Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La. announced he was bringing Willie Robertson to the speech.
  • Few odd couples — The tradition of date night, that adorable coupling up of Democrats and Republicans in a show of bipartisan unity (rather than the usual Republicans-on-the-right, Dems-on-the-left) seems to be on the wane. Everyone was doing it back in 2011, but this year, expect to see only a smattering of bipartisan duos.  At least now it will be easier to determine which lines of the president’s speech get reaction from which party.
  • No fashion drama —  There aren’t likely to be any big fashion surprises. Michelle Obama’s bare arms caused a huge stir in the chamber back in 2009, but since then, she’s gone sleeveless so often (as have other female pols) and the sight of her guns is old hat. And speaking of hats,  Rep. Frederica Wilson, whose flashy chapeaus have livened up other dull events, isn’t allowed to wear her signature headgear on the House floor. Sigh.
  • That speech — Oh, and the speech? Apparently, it’s going to focus on economic inequality. But, much like a movie you’re anticipating that gets ruined by too-revealing previews, all the pre-speech signalling — not to mention GOP “pre-buttals” — the actual thing feels a bit anticlimactic.
Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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