More State of the Union

I hope that everyone is well and paying attention in class. Today I want to discuss further and briefly the State of the Union Address that will be on tv tonight. Many of you know that the president does this every year. But did you know that the State of the Union is required by the Constitution?

Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution says: "He shall 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; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States."

So in other words, the president has to make a report to Congress and the American public about the state of the nation as a whole. It's not something that he can choose not to do. He's stuck with it. At the same time, he doesn't have to do it in person. In fact, there's nothing in the Constitution that says that he has to do it in person Case in point, Jimmy Carter gave his State of the Union speech in writing in 1981 before Ronald Reagan took over.

The first State of the Union was done by (drumroll please!) the first president of the United States, George Washington in 1790 in New York City (NEW YORK CITY? Apologies to the Pace Picante people!). Calvin Cooldige was the first to take the State of the Union Address on the radio in 1923, while Harry Truman's 1947 address was the first to be televised. Lyndon Johnson was the first to go prime time in 1965. The only president to postpone his speech? Reagan in 1985 after the Challenger disaster. Bill Clinton's 1997 address was the first to go on the web.

The speech itself lasts no more than about 45 minutes to an hour and the Speaker of the House (in this case, Nancy Pelosi - California) and Vice President Biden get a copy of the speech and get the good seats, behind the president.

So this afternoon as you're sitting in class, what I want you to do is (beside do your own State of the Union speech) is to guess who the designated survivor is going to be, with the fact that person has to be a cabinet member and a natural-born US citizen. Then tomorrow in class, not only compare notes about the speech, compare notes about who the designated survivor might be. I'll give you a hint. It's not Mrs. Clinton.



Kerrell G.


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