Editorial-The SOTU Gossip & Tidbits; Reminisce-Phrases We Once Used

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State of the Union Gossip & Tidbits

The State of the Union address is required by our constitution. Only the constitution specifies “from time to time” and the whole spectacle has evolved into a once a year political grandstand that is more notable for the gossip and festivities surrounding it than the actual speech.

To this end, some notes and tidbits on the 2006 State of the Union Speech that “history” not be forgotten.

The Speech as delivered by President Bush was not so remarkable as I saw it. The very best SOTU speech by me was delivered by President Clinton the January after he was impeached. In a knock-down, drag-out, scream-it-out speech meant to show the world Clinton wasn’t going to take such treatment lying down, Bill waved his arms and promised free lunch for everybody, two puppies in every Christmas stocking and a chicken in every pot. While unbeknownst to us some fellow named Osama Bin Laden was deep in plot to kill our citizens and attack our buildings with our own airplanes.

President Clinton was a fine speech giver although he never said much of anything. Then again, I’m not convinced speeches are meant to do much of nothing, especially those SOTU things.

Came across this little bit of history concerning the SOTU address and was intrigued.
George Washington gave the first state of the union address on January 8, 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchial (similar to the Queen's Speech).

Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy. However, there have been exceptions to this rule. Presidents during the latter half of the 20th Century have sent written State of the Union addresses. The last President to do this was Jimmy Carter in 1981. . For many years, the speech was referred to as "the President's Annual Message to Congress." The actual term "State of the Union" did not become widely used until after 1935 when Franklin D. Roosevelt began using the phrase.

Prior to 1934 the annual message was delivered in December. The ratification of Amendment XX on January 23, 1933 changed the opening of Congress from early March to early January, affecting the delivery of the annual message. Since 1934, the message or address has been delivered to Congress in January or February. Today, the speech is typically delivered on the last Tuesday in January, although there is no such provision written in law, and it varies from year to year.

Calvin Coolidge's 1923 speech was the first to be broadcast on radio. Harry S. Truman's 1947 address was the first to be broadcast on television. Lyndon Johnson's address in 1965 was the first delivered in the evening. Bill Clinton gave his 1999 address while his impeachment trial was underway. George W. Bush's 2002 address was the first broadcast available live on the world wide web. Ronald Reagan was the only president to have postponed his State of the Union address. On January 28, 1986, he planned to give his address, but after learning that the Challenger exploded, he postponed it for a week and addressed the nation on the day's events.

In our more modern era and with no small amount of derision, we actually have a brand new State of the Union drinking game.

Pop culture aside, there were some interesting tidbits during this year’s SOTU. The most notable tidbit was the complete rudeness of the Democratic party. Thanking God for the Internet and irreverent bloggers, it has all been captured for posterity.

The most shocking sight byte was the entire Democratic side of the chamber standing and cheering like fools when the President mentioned that congress failed to act on his prior year Social Security initiatives. Imagine cheering on a failure to do one damn thing on one of the most pressing issues of our day. It’s a sight byte that will live on in infamy. Look for this video snippet to be used during this year’s mid-term elections.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAnother fine sight bite was the incongruous smile from Madame Hillary right after Bush uttered his one memorable sound byte of the evening. “We will not stand by and wait for another attack” is the paraphrase. So Hillary laughed. Why?

The “arrest” of two “political activists” the night of the SOTU also provides snorts and gossip fodder. One such political activist was the wife of a GOP congress critter, Bill Young of Florida. His wife wore a shirt with the words “Support Our Troops” and Young complained lustily the following day. This political wife did have to leave the chamber but was not arrested.

The other political activist was Cindy Sheehan, she whose son was killed in the Iraq war and who has since been the darling of the left. The story of what happened to Cindy is still a bit murky.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comCindy was allegedly given a ticket to the event by California congress critter Lynn Woolsey. Right there is something suspicious. Tickets to the SOTU are supposed to be for spouses or significant others. They are generally not distributed to the general public. Whether this is due to some written congressional rule of protocol or mere tradition, it was considered a sneaky thing to do.

Add to this that Cindy had on a T-shirt that was emblazoned with the number of dead in Iraq with the question “How Many More?” below the numbers. Sheehan hid the T-shirt under a coat and didn’t reveal the shirt until seated. She was then asked to put her coat back on or she would have to leave. Sheehan refused to cover the T-shirt so was escorted out from the chambers.

The pundits have jawed that there is a dress code for entering the gallery but it’s not clear, at least to me, if this dress code excludes wearing clothes with political statements. If so, why would the wife of a congress critter not already know this? Or is the dress code a routine and tepid listing of requirements for suits, ties, and shoes but used as a reason to eject those wearing clothing with words on it?

Another thing floating across the blogosphere and whispered by the pundits, was the suggestion that Cindy had some sort of banner with her. She did not unfold this banner, if it even existed, but there was concern that she would. Sheehan did have an opportune seat for unfolding a banner to have the words seen by the entire nation should the camera have panned her way.

Whatever the case, the congress critter’s wife had to leave but was not arrested. Sheehan also had to leave but it was reported she was arrested. The latest info on this is that Cindy was allowed to leave well before Bush was finished his speech. If she had been arrested all charges against her were dropped.

I’m supposing there’s a standard and well-understood rule of decorum in this vaunted Chamber of the people. Such decorum probably does not include displaying banners from balconies, especially during SOTU speeches as required by our constitution, please don’t forget. It was neither the time or the place.

As for the lady with the “support our troops” sweatshirt, well one would suppose that such a sentiment would be a fine American thought and would offend no one in the chamber where the war that sent those troops off to battle was voted on and approved. Perhaps the removal of this congress critter’s wife was because Cindy Sheehan was being removed based on clothing wordage so both had to go.

A CBS flash poll taken right after the speech reported that 77% of the respondents liked the speech while only 32% thought anything would come of all the grand promises such speeches bring.

Another tidbit: Congress critter Cynthia McKinney had to be told to move from where she perched her left-wing self. Seems her seat had been designated for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Then Ms. McKinney never had any respect for rules. We hear tell McKinney really whined about having to move. Heard it on Brit Hume’s Fox show.

Finally, there was the Democrat rebuttal. Performed this year by newly elected Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Now these rebuttals are almost always even more boring than the SOTU speech. This response as delivered by the Democrats’ new rising star was really a hoot.

His mantra, “there is a better way” began to grate. I wanted to scream and tell the man to reveal, please, this “better way”.

The most laughable thing about this rebuttal is the attention Kaine’s eyebrows received across the Blogosphere and via the vaunted pundits on the cable news shows.

Yes I said eyebrows.

Seems the man’s left eyebrow tends to move rather comically during serious moments. The video of Tim Kaine’s eyebrows too has been saved for immortality and hoots to come.

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Came across this article and decided it would be a good time to document these fine phrases for sweet granddaughter Kaitlyn Mae. For someday she too will need to understand these phrases, their origins and meanings in conversational context. I’ll add another phrase to the list below, a phrase often used by my mother and one that summed up many a personal crisis.

If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen

If any readers have additional sayings, please add in comments or email them to me. Perhaps a future update will be in order.

A Lick and A Promise
By Pamela Perry Blaine

"I'll just give this a lick and a promise", my mother said as she quickly mopped up a spill on the floor without moving any of the furniture.

"What is that supposed to mean'. I asked as in my young mind I envisioned someone licking the floor with his or her tongue. " It means that I'm in a hurry and I'm busy canning tomatoes so I am going to just give it a lick with the mop and promise to come back and do the job right later.

"A lick and a promise" was just one of the many old phrases that I remember my mother, grandmother, and others using that they had probably heard from the generations before them. With the passing of time, many old phrases become obsolete or even disappear. This is unfortunate because some of them are very appropriate and humorous.

Here is a list that I came up with that I remember my parents and grandparents using that we don't hear much anymore. Perhaps you have some memorable old phrases of your own that you could add to the list:

  • A Bone To Pick (someone who wants to discuss a disagreement)

  • An Axe To Grind (Someone who has a hidden motive. This phrase is said to have originated from Benjamin Franklin who told a story about a devious man who asked how a grinding wheel worked. He ended up walking away with his axe sharpened free of charge.

  • A Bad Apple Spoils The Whole Barrel (one corrupt person can cause all the other to go bad if you don't remove the bad one)

  • At sea (lost or not understanding something)

  • Bad Egg (someone who was not a good person)

  • Barking at a knot ( meaning that your efforts were as useless as a dog barking at a knot.)

  • Bee in your bonnet (To have an idea that won't let loose)

  • Been through the mill (had a rough time of it)

  • Between hay and grass (not a child or a adult)

  • Blinky (Between sweet and sour in milk)

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  • Calaboose (a jail)

  • Cattywampus (something that sits crooked such as a piece of furniture sitting at an angle)

  • Dicker (To barter or trade)

  • Feather In Your Cap (to accomplish a goal ...this came from years ago in wartime when warriors might receive a feather they would put in their cap for defeating the enemy)

  • Hold your horses (Be patient)

  • I reckon (I suppose)

  • Jawing (Talking or arguing)

  • Kit and caboodle (The whole thing)

  • Madder than an old wet hen (really angry)

  • Needs taken down a notch or two (like notches in a belt...usually a young person who thinks too highly of himself and needs a lesson)

  • No spring chicken (Not young any more)

  • Pernickety (overly particular or snobbish)

  • Pert-near (short for pretty near)

  • Pretty is as pretty does (your actions are more important than your looks)

  • Scallywag (a rascal or unprincipled person)

  • Scarce as hen's teeth (something difficult to obtain)

  • Skedaddle (get out of here quickly)

  • Sparking (courting)

  • Straight From the Horse's Mouth (privileged information from the one concerned)

  • Stringing around, gallivanting around, or piddling (Not doing anything of value)

  • Sunday go to meedin' dress (The best dress you had)

  • We wash up real fine (is another goodie...)

  • Tie the Knot (to get married)

  • Tuckered out (tired and all worn out

  • Too many irons in the fire (too be involved in too many things)

  • Under the weather (not feeling well...this term came from going below deck on ships due to sea sickness thus you go below or under the weather)

  • Wearing your "best bib and tucker" (Being all dressed up)

  • You ain't the only duck in the pond (It's not all about you)
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