As you’re all aware the State of the Union was on Tuesday night and it was… boring.
So boring and not at all worth bumping regularly scheduled programming for. We all spent time out of our evenings to watch an infomercial for big government. Granted this is true no matter who the president is, the SOTU is always dull the only change is if they’re for big or small government. Every year, every speech I always feel sufficiently let down and almost disappointed. After numerous years of binge watching The West Wing I’ve finally figured out why this feeling of dissatisfaction always follows: because government is not a scripted drama. Dirty? Absolutely. Clearly you need only know the properly placed person or contribute the right amount of money for a shot at a perk in return, say Ambassador to Norway despite knowing nothing of the country (look up the video it’s hilarious). Sexy? No. The sex scandals more often than not are nauseating rather than titillating. Boring? Oh yeah.
Hollywood has built up the myth of the inner workings of the government to be a grand affair, they’ve done this to a point that the real thing is less than fulfilling. Every year when the State of the Union rolls around I get a little smile as I think about episodes of West Wing with Toby and Sam bouncing ideas back and forth. Then there’s the scene with Martin Sheen reading the section of the Constitution that pertains to the SOTU, in that “Bartlet feeling moved” voice. Then the real thing happens and I spend twice as much time wondering why I even bothered when every year it’s the same thing.
Television would have us all believe that politics is a realm where wise and intelligent people come together and have the great debates that will lead to some sort of resolution for the country’s problems. A belief that was easier to accept in previous years has since crumbled. The wide-eyed naïveté of The West Wing has now become hokey. There are no wise politicians in a time when it would seem that any dolt with a suit and an ability to lie without blinking can be elected to office. There’s nothing romantic about government, no one is shouting down their better angels because it would appear that there are no better angels left to silence. And newer shows like House of Cards and Scandal is a reflection of the corruption, although they still strive to make it seem sexy. Of course there are exceptions to every argument and I’m sure that there are many who would disagree with me when it comes to their favorites.
For me the dismal state of politics can no longer be idealized by the pretty words from a screenwriter’s computer. With each scandal, corruption charge, and disregard for the Constitution it becomes clear that the old fiction is better than the current reality.