State of the Union Address. Wherein Fr Z has dubitations.

As I fortify myself to watch the State of the Union Address tonight, I am minded of one of the best lines of invective ever uttered.

Back in the 70’s Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman had a war, during which the former quipped of the latter,

“Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in The Drill and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. dans0622 says:

    Father, I wonder if you can tell us what it is you do to “fortify” yourself for this event. I can think of nothing that I could do to give myself the strength to watch it…and still have all my faculties.

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    I will not watch precisely because most of what will be said will be deceptive at best and outright lies at worst….plus, the mere sight of the man is not good for my blood pressure nor does it help at all with my exercise of Christian charity.

  3. Southern Baron says:

    I think I’ll watch it and write a dissertation entitled “The Theatricality of Political Representation: Masks in the Casts of Modern American Election Years” or some such. As long as it’s nearly indecipherable they’ll give me the degree.

    The real question is, does viewing this speech require (a) Mystic Monk Coffee or (b) several bottles of Trappistes Rochefort 10? [I think I’d go for the amber waves of grain, if you get my drift.]

  4. wmeyer says:

    That is the best citation for the event than I can imagine.

    Like Exchief, I will not watch, and for all the same reasons.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Who would listen to the Voice of Saruman, the ultimate politician?

  6. Darren says:

    I’ll make like Tim Thomas and stay away from the television tonight.

    Never watched a state of the union or of the state address yet in my life. I don’t want one of this guy’s to be the first.

  7. Jim Ryon says:


  8. jesusthroughmary says:

    Ironically (especially considering the context), McCarthy and Hellman were both socialists and one-time Communists. [Irony abounds.]

  9. Joe in Canada says:

    But what if today is the day he is overwhelmed by grace? As we pray for those in authority over us, we also pray to our heavenly Father “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What rejoicing in heaven! if today President Obama hearkens to God’s voice! [Thank you in advance for your prayers for the President of the United States. The Prayer of Bishop Carroll is useful in this regard.]

  10. Velle Mere says:

    I can’t wait to read your tweets tonight!

  11. digdigby says:

    State of WHAT Union?

  12. Andy Milam says:

    Are we taking bets on how fast HHS is brought up tonight?

    I’ll take the 15 minute square.

    This is going to be the closest thing to a socialist manifesto we’ve ever heard, in the USA. Get ready for Keynesian-lite.


  13. irishgirl says:

    Exchief: DOUBLE ditto!
    I don’t have TV, and all my ‘entertainment’ is via the radio. I usually listen to an NPR station (yeah, rather weird-but it also has a cool program of classic radio shows in the evening), but for this night I’ll tune in either to the classical music or all-sports stations.
    What a great quote by Mary McCarthy, Father Z!
    I hope that someone has the guts to yell ‘You lie!’ to Obama….I really hope so!

  14. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Like a moth to the flame……..Think I’ll watch with rosary in hand and Holy Water to throw at the image. Or perhaps the solar storm will black out the whole thing ……Please!

  15. Bryan Boyle says:

    I think I’d rather poke sharpened sticks into my ears rather than have to sit through listening to the Teleprompter-in-Chief blather on with his half-truths and self-worshiping pontifications. I’ll probably just sit in my workshop and build jumper cables for my ham radio friends and listen to some online stream of calming music.

    Wonder if he’ll lecture the Supreme Court again? Or, maybe, send the TSA in to pat down a few of the congressmen or senators for good measure?

  16. mamajen says:

    You’re a better person than I. I vowed after the election that I would never purposely watch an Obama speech, and so far I have held to that.

  17. wmeyer says:

    Tealady, like it or not, he is in office, and wields all the power of that office, as well as any he can usurp from our apparently spineless congress.

    Yes, he is a disgrace, but for another year (and I pray for no more) he is in position to gravely affect our country and our lives.

  18. Jack Hughes says:


    I think that referring to Obama as Saruman is being overly generous, after all Saruman was wise in the beginning and his silver tongue put to use in the service of the Valar. To elicit cheers of adulation from his minions all Obama has to do is to show up and avoid tripping over the lighting cable.

  19. Ed the Roman says:

    My SOTU viewing stopped two years ago, was inconsistent duing W’s admin., and has ALWAYS been surly. I hate to fault Ronaldus Magnus, but the human props in the gallery really have contributed to making the SOTU address a steaming pile.

    If I ever ran, part of my platform would be that the SOTU would be sent registered mail. Although the temptation to tweet it exists: the brevity would appeal to many.

  20. Ellen says:

    All the president has to do is send Congress a written statement about the State of the Union and for many, many years all the presidents did just that.

    Then came TV. I won’t be watching it. I tend to avoid political grandstanding.

  21. acardnal says:

    I haven’t watched the State of the Union address in years. Meaningless.

  22. Centristian says:

    When His Majesty arrives in the House of Commons tonight to deliver the Gracious Speech, with the Commons and the Lords, Labour and Tory, together, for the auspicious event undivided by an aisle, all patriotic hearts shall be aflutter in unity as the Sovereign reads the speech prepared for him in advance by the interests that put him on the throne. How shining and competent shall Himself at least appear in contrast to what we saw of those who would seek to dethrone him last night, who couldn’t put their petty grudges aside for long enough to at least look like they could do it.

    The President, at least, for all his deficiencies, knows how to play President. If only Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney knew how to play the part of adults, and could stop kicking sand in each others faces, focusing their blows, instead, on the real opponent, instead of on each other, one of them might actually have a shot at retaking the throne.

    From what I saw last night, however, if I were not a Catholic concerned about pressing issues concerning religious liberty and future Supreme Court nominations, I wouldn’t offer either of those men a part-time job in the mail room, much less the the job of ruler of the Western world. One or the other of them will have my vote, at this point, only because, as has been said, a can of orange juice is preferable to what we’re stuck with at the moment. But how many other Americans will imagine that that is true, I wonder, particularly when they compare them with Himself tonight?

  23. New Sister says:

    I’m praying for the strateists who must watch this vile in order to plan a campaign that can throw him out this Nov.

    BTW: did anyone see the juxtapositions of glamorous Obama pictures next to gory abortion images at yesterday’s March? Very, very well done, whoever did that.

  24. philologus says:

    I like to watch for the spectacle of sheer sophistry.

  25. MargaretC says:

    I gave up watching political speeches years ago, even with the help of generous shots of Tennessee Snakebite Remedy. All they do is make me wildly uncharitable.

    I have been trying to make a point of praying regularly for the conversion of Barack Obama. It’s harder than I expected, which probably reflects badly on my own spiritual state. What did the king say in Hamlet? “Bow, stubborn knees…”

  26. New Sister says:

    Supertradmum: not these guys, evidently.

  27. Supertradmum says:


    Hysterical, and of course, having Gimli’s comment on shooting him is too much.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    Maybe the sun storm will cause the grid to come down when POYUS starts…

  29. Supertradmum says:

    Maybe the sun storm will cause the grid to come down when POTUS starts…

  30. Supertradmum says:

    oops did not catch error fast enough–President of Your United States, not mine…Internet is working fine and fast here in Ireland, where it is 17:12 GMT

  31. JKnott says:

    Something rather important to keep in mind whether listening and not.

  32. JKnott says:

    This may be something rather important to keep in mind whether listening and not.

  33. JKnott says:

    Sorry for the repeated post.

  34. XYZ321 says:

    The SOTU address has degenerated in recent years to be nothing more than a partisan pep rally. For the past few SOTU addresses, I watch C-Span about a half hour before it starts to watch as each set of dignitaries is introduced (the diplomatic corps, the Chief Justice and associate Justices of the Supreme Court, the President’s cabinet). Once the speech starts, I change the channel. The only thing of interest to me tonight will be which members of the Supreme Court are in attendance — I doubt Justice Alito will be there, for example.

  35. teomatteo says:

    I don’t watch…umm… I have to wash my hair!

  36. New Sister says:

    JKnott: I am convinced that, despite his mobilizing “useful idiots” (Lenin) through community organizing, if only live, US citizens had voted last time he would not be president. I think Obama’s Alinsky tactics can be blunted just by requiring photo ID and/or proof of US citzenship before voting.

  37. I fortify myself with Scotch and the immortal words of the late great Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  38. “Every word she(HE) writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.”

    I won’t watch, never have watched the man, and can’t even stand to hear his voice. I will wait until tomorrow’s conservative talk radio hosts give their input on the matter. If they mention a statement he made and then play the spot, I will turn the radio down and just take what they (the host) repeated, as fact. If they weren’t telling it correctly they certainly wouldn’t be broadcasting him in his own words.

    Beside all that, the man makes my blood pressure soar.

  39. Supertradmum says:


    Excepting baseball and cricket statistics, which are not only intriguing, but mostly true….

  40. PostCatholic says:

    Your anger seems a bit over the top, Rev. Zuhlsdorf. I’d meditate, were I you, on how deep that anger runs and whether there is some corner of charity you can throw some light on. [Nope. You are wrong.]

  41. Gregg the Obscure says:

    One of my daily prayer intentions is “that civil authorities may be thwarted in their efforts to do evil and may be goaded into doing their duty”. I had thought about “tricked” instead of “goaded”, but then remembered that – unlike the despicable politicians of both parties that afflict our society – the Most High does not deceive.

    In the last few decades of the Soviet Union, western elites preached “moral equivalence” – the idea that the faults of the western world were equal to those of the Stalinists. That wasn’t true then, but the current state of decomposition of the western world is on the whole about as bad as Stalin’s state – in some areas not as bad, but in others worse.

  42. Centristian says:


    “Your anger seems a bit over the top, Rev. Zuhlsdorf.”

    No, no…Father, show him the “You are an idiot and a mental retard” email you got as a reference point for “over the top”. I don’t think he gets what “over the top” means.

  43. wmeyer says:

    PostCatholic, I think it would be difficult for anyone’s anger over the abuses by the sitting president to be over the top. We are watching the destruction of our country. Charity is strained and overstrained, in connection with that man and his devious behaviors.

    Jack Hughes: I think that referring to Obama as Saruman is being overly generous, after all Saruman was wise in the beginning and his silver tongue put to use in the service of the Valar.

    Obama was neither wise nor useful in the beginning. Voting “present” is of no use whatsoever. It is on par with those who will abstain from voting because they like neither man on the ticket, but overlook the reality that to abstain is to vote a choice, and that choice is to leave to others the fate of our nation. Holy Mother Church teaches that we have, indeed, a duty to responsible citizenship, and abstaining is surely not responsible.

  44. Supertradmum says:


    If there was ever a time we needed men to be angry, it is now. Righteous anger overturned the tables in the Temple and called the Pharisees and Sadducees white-washed sepulchers. Christ spoke with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5). Stop being so nice and realize that the anger of God will destroy the United States if the nation continues on this path of killing babies and stopping the spreading of Truth, the Gospel Truth. Have you not heard of the five sins which call down the Righteous Anger, no, Vengeance of God?

    We need more anger, not less. Thank God for Father Z’s strong words.

  45. tcreek says:

    The ruling culture now inoculates specifically against Christianity and the prerequisites of Christianity. It supplies ready-made arguments grounded in modern materialist hedonism to be used against all evidence or steps in argument that might lead to Christianity if rigorously followed. Christian apologetics cannot advance one step without eliciting these slogans, and modern impatience, distractability and a short attention span does the rest. That these hedonic materialist arguments are circular, incoherent and ungrounded is irrelevant in practice; because they effectively block the development of an alternative metaphysics from which their invalidity would be apparent. – Bruce Charlton –

  46. Andrew says:

    At this point I think I can write the speech myself: just praise my accomplishments, keep promising everything to everyone and accuse my opponents of holding me back. And the bottom line will be: “give me more money and I’ll take you to Utopia”.

  47. I will not be watching the state of the blame bush address. I will be doing something much more constructive with my time. Writing a Physics book.

  48. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,

    You should have scheduled a blognic for this evening, so that some could have traveled to a great pub with good people and real conversation instead of staying at home and listening to narcissistic lies and more unreal spinning of the web of deceit, pouring like a polluted stream into their homes. And, I do not have any hidden reason for anger, except the Ten Commandments, the Gospel and the Teaching Magisterium of the Church.

  49. nanetteclaret says:

    New Sister –

    The Texas Legislature passed a Voter I.D. law in the last session. The “Justice (NOT)” Department is “reviewing” it to make sure it is not “discriminatory.” It’s discriminatory only against people who refuse to get a free I.D. from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, but of course the “Justice (NOT)” Department is dragging its heels to approve it. Our Attorney General has had to file a lawsuit against the Feds to get them to speed up the process so that we can have primaries the first part of April. This is in addition to the re-districting fiasco where the Feds have told a 3-judge panel to re-draw the maps the Legislature drew. The “Justice (NOT)” Dept. clearly has no problem thwarting Legislation done according to our state guidelines. It’s gone beyond Alinsky tactics to outright subversion of the Will of the People.

  50. lu3777 says:

    I love a blog post that makes me use the dictionary! I’m going to try to use the word dubitation in a sentence today…

  51. SKAY says:

    ” I think Obama’s Alinsky tactics can be blunted just by requiring photo ID and/or proof of US citzenship before voting.”

    I agree New Sister. Interesting that it is the Democrat Party that fights these common sense ideas.

    I will not be watching tonight. My blood pressure is more important to me.
    Thank you for the post and the quote Fr Z. It did make me smile.

  52. wmeyer says:

    Here in Georgia, we had a voter ID law which was written with consultation from the Dept. of (In)Justice. Once it had been passed into law, the same Dept. of (In)Justice sued to negate the law.

  53. rodin says:

    As I recall Mary McCarthy was a match for her.

  54. trespinos says:

    I have been remembering to include a prayer for the conversion of him and his associates each morning, and this has enabled me to keep a measure of equanimity toward the man. Not nearly enough to induce me to watch him speechify, however. It would be completely fitting if the Justices of the Supreme Court absented themselves en banc, but I suppose the two appointed by him could always form the nucleus of a token representation.

  55. wmeyer says:

    I keep thinking what a wonderful statement it would be if the entire contingent of Republicans — and the Supremes — were to absent themselves. Of course, the media might do their best to mask the empty seats….

  56. david andrew says:

    I will be at church, assisting in our weekly devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I’m beginning to think that the prayer in temporal wants needs to be exercised to the max tonight.

  57. Maltese says:

    Give me an O! Give me a B! Give me an A! Give me a M! Give me another A!

    Hey, but it fairness, he’s never questioned the meaning of “is”!

  58. Maltese says:

    Southern Baron, thanks for recommending Trappistes Rochefort 10, it gets an almost perfect rating from Beeradvocate; will have to try it! Chimay might to the trick as well, but tonight I’m opting for Cheery Adam From the Wood.

  59. monmir says:

    I turned off the television this morning at 8:30 am and the couvre- feu is on for 48 hours. I have said the prayer of St Michael every day for the President since Inauguration Day. Tonight I am saying the full Pope Leo XIII version. I know somehow that St Michael hears me. Impatience!
    For strength I will have a glass of wine, perhaps I will do a headstand before and find out how it impacts my vision of things.

  60. Peggy R says:

    We’ll be busy being parents raising and educating our kids tonight–multiplication table memorizing; social studies; reading assignment; spelling review…that sh0uld keep us busy. I’ll watch the post-game shows–and scream…or read online commentary….

  61. heway says:

    Hope this is not to late but here is a Repubican website where you can submit questions and after the the state of the Union Address, you login and hope your question will be answered. Worth looking at website –
    also…Alinsky. In the 50’s and 60’s his tactics gave way to Community Action Organizations. We used one to assist migrant workers who lived in rental units where the electricity or heat (kerosene)might be off for several days, the windows unrepaired, outhouse facilities not cared for. We were able to help them put rental monies in escrow – until repairs were done. These migrants worked the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Picked apples through winter – on ladder with canvas bag on back, in snow -on Christmas Day. Happily in the 70’s this particular camp was destroyed and apartmnet housing replaced. Saul has some good ideas! And our diocesan interracial council made use of them!

  62. heway says:

    Sorry, didn’t preview carefully – apartment

  63. kelleyb says:

    I have to gird myself with prayer to listen to our President anytime he speaks. I have not decided whether I will listen to his State of Dis-Union speech tonight. I am sure he will fan the flames of class warfare. I can imagine that he will say: ‘Warren Buffet’s secretary pays more in taxes than Mitt Romney, and that it is time for the millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. Yes, and let’s not forget that George Bush left such a mess that I was forced to throw trillions of dollars of our children’s and grand children’s future into crony capitalist ventures that went bust and union pockets. But hey, give me 4 more years and I will fix the Union some more. Oh, and the Republicans all suck. Don’t forget I am the best wartime peacemaking President EVAH. I might even deserve another Nobel and an Honorary Degree from some other catholic university.”
    I can imagine it so why do I want to listen to his campaign speech.

  64. jarhead462 says:

    I can’t watch….I have to watch my paint dry.
    Five minutes of listening to that DRECK, and I will be going for the booze.
    I’ll catch up with Rush, Steyn,

    Semper Fi!

  65. Kerry says:

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    When the government doesn’t obey the Constitution, what’s treason?

  66. PostCatholic says:

    I got my answer from Rev. Zuhlsdorf, “[Nope. You are wrong.]” I accept it; he’s the only one who could know if his own heart is peaceful. Whether we carry our anger too far is a worthwhile question to ask ourselves when our rhetoric becomes heated, and I make no apology.

    I, however, certainly never called him a moron or mental retard (what hideous terms for disabled people) and if it is thought otherwise let me unequivocally reject those insults as inappropriate and patently false.

  67. Andy Lucy says:

    I will be watching… I use these occasions as intelligence analysis exercises… disseminating truth from half-truth from falsehood from pure unmitigated BS. I started this during the tenure of Reagan and have continued it to this day.

  68. Gulielmus says:

    I’ll be watching, if for no other reason than to observe the tactics used. As for President Obama, I disagree with practically every position he’s taken, but still find the vitriol used against his every step and breath, and the criticism of everything from his speaking style to the expressions on his face, counter-productive. It just makes those of us in the opposition look and sound foolish.

    Overall, I’m with Ed the Roman– The current state of the State of the Union is due to President Reagan’s use of it as a campaign tool for his agendas. Carter and Ford were boring speakers but the speech was dignified and substantive in a way it hasn’t been since. The speeches coinciding with reelection efforts have always been the worst. If you want to hear blatant electioneering go back and read Reagan in 1984, Bush in 1992, Clinton in 1996, and Bush II in 2004. Tonight will be no less blatant, nor any more.

  69. NoTambourines says:

    I was going to take in a Mel Brooks movie tonight. Then I remembered the State of the Union was on. Both would be laughable, but only the first one would be enjoyable. I’m still on the fence.

    I wonder if Fr. Z will be on Twitter. That would be interesting to follow.

  70. wmeyer says:

    Kerry: “When the government doesn’t obey the Constitution, what’s treason?”

    When all three branches ignore the Constitution, then the Republic is gone, and tyranny reigns.

  71. ContraMundum says:

    XYZ321 is right; these are just pep rallies.

    No major new announcements will be made at a SOTUA for fear that it would blow up in the president’s face. The really scary things, the hints of new programs and policies, are introduced first by minor officials in out-of the-limelight speeches to see how well they are received. Only the worst-kept secrets will be revealed tonight.

  72. wmeyer says:

    Here’s a thought.

    Any self-professed Catholic who votes for Obama has betrayed his faith, his fellow Catholics, and his country. The worst, of course is that he betrays God, as he cannot possibly rationalize to our Creator his support for murdering babies.

  73. pm125 says:

    Voter ID’s.
    Couldn’t, didn’t.

  74. dnicoll says:

    For all his faults, Obama supporters have one very simple reply to criticisms of him. Dubya. And he is simple.

  75. bookworm says:

    My husband, who hasn’t voted in years and professes to have little if any interest in politics, for some reason insisted upon watching the SOTU last night. We had to watch online since we no longer have cable TV. Neither of us were impressed. The only comment my husband had was that Obama was definitely in the hip pocket of labor unions (which he despises). He didn’t mention HHS at all; the closest he came was by referring to health insurance companies that “charge women more than men”.

  76. bookworm says:

    “He didn’t mention HHS at all…” refers, of course, to Obama.

  77. ContraMundum says:


    Do you mean to imply that Obama voters thought that if they didn’t vote for him, George W. Bush would be re-elected? Or are you implying that unintentionally?

  78. NoTambourines says:

    If Dubya didn’t exist, it would have been necessary for the Democrats to invent him.

  79. Charivari Rob says:

    @ Ellen: “Written statement”? “For yearsall the Presidents”? “TV”?

    The in-person address to Congress was the practice, oh… around the time of Adams and Jefferson. After a century or so, the practice was revived before the TV era (by Wilson, I think).

  80. Taylor says:

    And God says, “Vengence is Mine.” I have to think that Mr. Obama will be his own undoing. Mr. Romney may be next, and I suspect he may be his own undoing as well. However, I personally believe Mr. Gingrich should be honored with the Presidency. But, perhaps we, as a nation, don’t really deserve good leadership…not yet. God loves us and helps us become better.

Comments are closed.