State Of The Union Speech: A Look Back At Addresses Past And A History Of Forgotten Promises

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This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post in January 2012.

Every year around this time, we make a huge deal about the president’s State Of The Union address because…well, because our political leaders make a big deal about it. From the careful preparations of the president to the rebuttals from the opposition to the genuine enthusiasm expressed by all in attendance, there’s a lot to dish about, dissect and discuss. And let’s face it — the State of the Union is basically a long session of case-making from a hopeful commander-in-chief trying to earn the continued trust of the people, often in the form of re-election.

But political science teaches us that these speeches by themselves often don’t move the needle of public opinion in a lasting way. And our memories inform us that, for all the work that’s put into the effort, we often only remember the odd moment or two. (And often, that odd moment is literally an odd moment.)

This is perhaps as it should be, because it seems that if there’s one constant to these orations, it’s that they all, in some way, herald a false dawn. We took a look back to State of the Union addresses all the way back to the Nixon administration and found that, often, what you get are flamboyant pledges of Great Things To Come that never materialize and are quickly forgotten. With the help of HuffPost’s Hunter Stuart, we’ve put together a video collage of famous forgotten promises.

For more, click here.

 

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