As a political junkie and invenerate people watcher, I always look forward to the State of the Union. I spend the whole day getting ready. I choose my drinking word. I memorize my Twitter hashtags and set up my column of #SOTU live Tweeters. I prepare delicious snacks, because everything goes better with chocolate. (Or BBQ depending on my mood.) And I even make special political cocktails. This year it was the Bloody Sarah, in honor of Sarah Palin and her “Blood Libel” diatribe. Russian Vodka and V8 Juice over muddled lime with an icicle as a stir. (The icicle is a nod to Alaska. A very Martha Stewart touch, don’t you think?)
Last night, I couldn’t get enough of the pre-game cable news coverage. By the time they showed the House Chamber, I was completely into the event, pausing and rewinding to see who was sitting with whom, and who wasn’t wearing a Gabrielle Giffords commemorative ribbon, and who snagged a handshake with the president. Then President Obama started talking, halted by applause every two freakin sentences, and the next thing I know I’m crying like a House Speaker halfway through an episode of The Locator, who has just found out the long lost mother he was asked to find has recently died.
So what is wrong with this picture besides my shamefully short attention span? Excitement. What we need is a State of the Union speech that lives up to the hype. Fireworks. Wardrobe malfunctions. Something to galvanize attention, and have the water cooler pundits buzzing all the next day. It is in this spirit I offer some suggestions to the politicos of Washington.
Top 15 Ways to make the State of the Union more exciting:
1 As long as he is President, Obama should give the speech shirtless.
2 An annual tailgate party on the National Mall.
3 Ask C-SPAN to run a Swahili translation crawl during the speech, and announce the broadcast will be seen in Kenya, just to tweak the birthers.
4 All elected officials must wear T-Shirts with the names of their biggest donors so casual viewers know who owns them.
5. If they continue mixed party seating, Republicans and Democrats should wear red and blue uniforms to more easily identify the teams.
6. Guest star Christine O’Donnell could get things rolling by sacrificing one of Dick Armey’s goats to ask for a year of good fortune.
7 Begin the evening with the Pledge of Allegiance leaving out the words “under God.” to watch the ensuing expressions.
8 End the evening with the politicians holding hands and singing of Kumbaya – in French.
9 Elephant and donkey rides for the kiddies. .
11 A rousing snowball fight between House and Senate for seating preference.
12 Good natured teleprompter sabotage competition between caucuses.
13 Michele Obama invites both Lady Gaga and an FDA inspector as her guests.
14 Televised “pre-game” coverage featuring Congress playing Beer Pong!
15 The Tea Party caucus all come as their favorite Founder.
Of course the fault may be mine. The country has struggled through for 200 years with just the serious-minded paying attention. And maybe someday science will find a way to help those of us whose maturity reservoir is so sadly lacking. But for now, what could it hurt if we made Democracy so much darned fun, that everyone would want to be part of it?