"Ho hum. It’s State of the Union night again. I wonder what else is on TV.” My faithful readers, both of them, know that this is my usual attitude about the long-running cliche that is the State of the Union speech, nothing more than a pretense that all is well and that our government is functioning.
But all is not well, and it’s not functioning. Besides, it’s always a ridiculous show, unless you enjoy watching the news networks feature endless blabbering from people like me about how this is really, really important.
This year, however, the ridiculous show is worth watching, as long as you take a bathroom break every time you hear a commentator speaking. This one has it all. Where else could you find a lead character like Donald Trump? With his every whiny word he divides the nation. As always, he will be sharing that talent with those who are crammed onto the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, to say nothing of those who watch at home.
All of this happens just a few hours before Trump is expected to dominate the other side of the Capitol building in the Senate chamber. There Trump the president has been Trump the defendant after being impeached by the House. But he will be acquitted after the charade of a Senate trial due to end in a glorious anticlimax.


But let’s get back to the night before and the pre-speech show, where there will be much SOTU intrigue (that’s State of the Union for those of us who are really hip). Pundits will go wild with their speculation: Will he even mention his impeachment, and if so, will his mouth foam when he does? While he’s speaking, what will people behind him be doing? Vice President Mike Pence will be seen sitting to the rear of Trump for this occasion as presiding officer of the Senate, and we can be sure that he will be swooning. He’s the administration’s leading bower and scraper. The others, the cabinet members and all Republicans, will do their groveling on the floor below.
Back to the dais, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Party’s Trump heckler in chief, will be doing something to diss him. It’ll be subtle, but unmistakable.
There are various others traditionally present, including the Supreme Court members, wearing their robes. It will be interesting to see if Chief Justice John Roberts joins them. Having been presiding over Trump’s Senate trial, he may be sick of the place.
And then there are the guests. They might steal the show. The president and first lady get to invite 24. The speaker also gets 24, and each member of Congress can bring one. The Trumps could assemble all of his attorneys in tribute to their remarkable job distorting the facts and legal points on his behalf.
And who will invite John Bolton? Adam Schiff? So Bolton can at least witness the spectacle, since he wasn’t allowed to be a witness. How about Lev Parnas, one of two Rudy Giuliani associates under indictment? What’s the protocol for access to the House when wearing an ankle monitor?
What would the reaction be from the president if he saw Parnas during mid-harangue? Could he continue pretending not to recognize him?
What about Giuliani himself? Will he show up as a Trump guest, or would he watch from his usual spot in the lobby bar at the Trump hotel? And will President Trump surprise everyone by announcing that next year he’ll just hold his State of the Union address at the hotel?
Of course, three senators in the audience would like to believe there won’t be a next year. Each one of them is among the crowd who wants his job. They will all be acting like whirling dervishes, putting the best spin possible on their results after the embarrassingly bungled Monday night Iowa caucuses.
Catch the State of the Union if you can. It’s part of the longest running show in America: the never-ending campaign.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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