In the days of my feckless youth I considered the State of the Union Address something of a patriotic duty to attend to. I was a dedicated Democrat thanks to Richard Nixon, so I suffered through the things under Reagan and both Bushes, and tolerated them from Carter, Clinton, and Obama.
I've finally decided I don't have to do that much, especially because the current President is a moron with the eloquence of a carnival barker and the moral perspicacity of a toad.
It's a curiously silly thing, the SOTU. As Slate points out, it arises from a literal reading of Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution:
He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
We don't need the damned thing, not even as a political speech (which is all it is anymore). Thomas Jefferson, Wikipedia tells me, declined to deliver an address personally to Congress, considering it too monarchical. It wasn't until 1913 that Woodrow Wilson revived the speech, then known as "The President's Annual Message to Congress." Note the tradition of "annual," although the Constitution doesn't set any kind of calendar on the thing. FDR started calling it the "State of the Union." He also gave the first one at night, leading us to all suffer through it in prime time to this day. As Jim Newell points out, there's no reason to expect anything from Trump's speech, at all:
Trump is as mercurial and lacking in attention span as the news cycles that would bury his message, and he is just as likely to be the one trampling on it. There is no reason to believe that he agrees with anything in his speech, or will remember on Wednesday morning what he said Tuesday night. Why should you?
I do wonder now what "Constitutional Crisis" it would prompt to ditch the damned thing, or just revert to sending a written message over for a clerk to read to Congress, as was done for almost 150 years. Should Congress change hands in November, Trump might decide the crowd is too hostile to attempt to play to. If we could get Trump to just send a written message, even just a tweet, he might actually be a boon to the nation after all.