State of the Union: Tradition and Function

The history and characteristic features of the State of the Union address, to be delivered by President Obama on January 25, were reviewed in a recent report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

“Presidents often acknowledge the difficult nature of the goals they set, but such acknowledgment is qualified by a strong statement that Americans will always fulfill their destiny, solve intractable problems, and ultimately ‘establish a more perfect Union’. ”

“No President has ever reported that the crisis facing the nation was insurmountable.”

See “The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications,” November 17, 2010.

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  1. Kiera Braun January 24, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    The History News Network just published a piece ( which goes along the same line of thought. It is interesting to see the ‘important’ addresses, since they do just what this article says: admit to difficulties but send a strong message to counter act the negative.