SOTU for 9th graders

Back in 2013, I old-fartishly complained about the declining complexity of State of the Union Addresses: Obama is a highly literate and thoughtful guy, yet this speech adhered to the depressingly low standards of American public discourse. It was written at a 10th grade level, slightly below the 11th grade level of his 2009 speech, and even more below the 12th grade level of Clinton’s 1993 state of the union. At least it was above George W’s 9th grade level speech in 2001. (See here for the texts of all State of the Union… Read More

The State of the Union: an old fartish complaint

[From my radio commentary this week.] A few words on the State of the Union address. What a plodding, tedious affair—enlivened only by its unresolved contradictions. Obama spoke against austerity—“we can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” the qualifier “just” being a tipoff that a confidence trick was being perpetrated—but quickly made it clear he wanted to cut Medicare and Social Security, lest, as he put it, “our retirement programs…crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.” In the euphemistic language… Read More