WASHINGTON, D.C. - Tonight marks the annual State of the Union tradition, when a sitting president visits Congress and reads the nation its report card.
The State of the Union has been through many changes, from its origins as a set of remarks that wasn’t even delivered in person to a nationally televised prime-time event.
But through it all, including remarks from presidents of both parties, one thing has remained constant: the steadfast refusal of the opposing party, in this case the Republicans, to budge from their seats or express any kind of knowing approval.
But who decides when members should sit, stand or clap?
Thankfully, an anonymous source (wink wink) has obtained a memo laying out etiquette pointers to Republican members and passes it along to the DecodeDC staff (OK, maybe not, but we imagine such a memo would have to read pretty much like the one below.):
To: dl-GOP mailing list
Subject: Guidelines for tonight
Every year we get questions from freshman members about proper etiquette for the State of the Union - when to sit, when to stand, when to clap. God help me, sometimes we’ve been been asked when to stand AND clap. So here's primer for tonight for our members, feel free to thank me later.
First, for the easy stuff. You’ll be doing your fair share of sitting and standing, pouting and clapping tonight so let’s all get on the same page. As you might have guessed, I expect to see everyone standing at any mention of “God,” “the troops,” “our troops,” “the military,” “fighting terrorism,” “freedom” and, of course, “God Bless America”.
Secondly, this should go without saying but keep those butts seated when the president mentions Obamacare, immigration or climate change. And so help me if I see anyone even attempting a clap or slow nod on any of the president’s economic initiatives or any new potential taxes.
If you’re stuck with the sudden urge to mutter something that may even be construed as an outbreak or utterance during the President’s remarks, stuff it. (I’m looking at you Joe Wilson). We’ll get plenty of time post-SOTU with our friends at Fox to make our point.
This is especially true for Joni but for anyone else making post-speech remarks, wait till the convenient red light on top of the camera goes off before sipping your water. I don’t want to hear any of this “My mouth got dry” nonsense.
And finally, I don’t care if you’ve got to bathe in a tub of espresso, stay awake for the whole speech.