"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."
— Article II, Section 3, The United States Constitution
The State of the Union address is upon us. The constitutionally mandated annual update on the state of our nation will air on nearly every major news network at 8 p.m. CST. If you're a cord-cutter, WhiteHouse.gov will have live video and NPR will have audio.
Expect to hear President Obama discuss the economy, climate, foreign policy, health care and social progress.
A few fast facts:
- The president must be invited by the Speaker of the House to give the address to a joint session of Congress. In this case the speaker is Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin. In Season 1 of The West Wing it is in question whether or not President Bartlett was invited to give the speech.
- The first SOTU address was given in January 1790 by George Washington. He spoke in person to Congress in New York City, the then provisional capital. (For more about why the capital was moved to Washington D.C. listen to Aaron Burr sing "The Room Where It Happens" from Hamilton, the hit Broadway musical.)
- Thomas Jefferson suspended the in-person addresses because he felt it was too monarchical. He and all of the presidents until Woodrow Wilson submitted the State of the Union to Congress in writing.
This is President Obama's final SOTU, so what better reason to raise a glass either in congratulating him on his presidency, or to drown your sorrows as you count down until the next man or woman takes the Oath of Office in January 2017?
To help, we've put together a quick little drinking game. Grab your drinks, maybe some patriotic Sam Adams lager?
- Take a drink when the Deputy Sergeant at Arms introduces the president and vice-president to Congress.
- Take a solemn drink and pour one out when the empty chair for the victims of gun violence is shown on screen.
- Take a drink and say the Texas pledge of allegiance if the Lone Star state is mentioned.
- Take a drink if Ernest Moniz, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, is shown on screen. (He has distinct hair.)
- Take a shot and recite some Biggie lyrics if Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Notorious RBG, is shown on screen sleeping.
- Take a drink whenever Vice-President Joe Biden shoots finger guns to someone in the crowd. He'll be sitting behind the president, you won't miss him.
- Take a drink if Speaker Paul Ryan looks unimpressed.
- Take a drink when President Obama touts the newly released jobs report as a success of his presidency.
- Take a drink if you don't recognize the woman giving the GOP response. She is Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Don't expect her to tell you a story about using bread bags as shoes.
- Take a drink if President Obama discusses the gas leak in California or the water issue in Flint, Michigan.
- Take a drink if President Obama throws in any jokes about Trump of the other candidates running to be the next president.
In the tradition of Andrew Jackson, and The West Wing, the White House will hold the third-annual digital "Big Block of Cheese Day" on Wednesday January 13. White House staffers will be online answering citizens questions using #BigBlockofCheeseDay.
Here is the video from last year: