By Steve Chapman
Mid-January is the time to ask the annual question: Are we ready for a big, noisy, overhyped prime-time production that has outgrown its simple origins and usually leaves us feeling both gorged and disappointed? If not, you may want to skip the State of the Union address and prepare for something humbler, like the Super Bowl.
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President Barack Obama has been doing his best to make a low-news event a no-news event, by traveling the country unveiling the sort of programs presidents normally use the speech to unveil: free community college, paid job leaves, universal broadband access and more. By the time he actually ascends the House dais on Tuesday evening, we will already know pretty much everything he's going to say.
Too bad he isn't canceling the whole exercise. It would not be unprecedented. Richard Nixon decided to stay home in 1973, and that decision was not listed in the articles of impeachment. Dwight Eisenhower, recovering from a heart attack, elected not to appear in 1956, and both he and the country survived.
Not showing up on Capitol Hill used to be the norm. The Constitution says the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union," but it doesn't specify the means of communication.