The pageantry of the State of the Union Address is an acquired taste, but once you get develop the affinity, it's all consuming. There's something about the distilled rhetoric combined with physical approval and cheers that combine to create a scene that is not only historic and American but displays bit of showmanship. If you don't like the actual speech, there's lots to do to help pass the time being eaten up and spit out by politics on the network channels when you would've been watching American gladiators. Here's a few time tested ideas:
1. Traditional: Count to see how many times the room gives a standing ovation (usually in the three-digits). This can also be slightly varied, for instance counting only when half the room gets up, or when half the room and Lieberman gets up, or when half the room gets up and the rest boo. You'll want to keep a tally, it happens a lot. You can also count how many times the pres invokes words or phrases, like 9/11 or the economy. These are also good drinking game markers, though the standing ovation drinking game would get you drunk in less than five minutes.
2. Observe Dick Cheney, and look for puppeteer strings, or his hand cleverly inserted into Bush's back, like a hand puppet. Also, observing the mere eye-brows of Cheney is likely fodder for hours of fascist entertainment.
3. Watch Pelosi squirm. It must be hard to sit up their, and have to judge, by the moment, what exactly to clap for -- even the worst Bush policies have been cleverly cloaked (by his speech writers, obviously), in statements that you really can't argue about. By adding ending clauses that are pro-troops, pro-American civil liberties, and anti-terrorist at the end of every sentence, you might not want to clap because you don't like Bush's policies, but then if you don't clap to endorse his general statements about America's goodness, you're a jerk. That's why Pelosi would often have a slight drag of just a moment, to see if her side of the room got up and clapped- that why she would know how to react and stay in line with the party.
4. Watch the Supreme Court for reaction. This is intriguing because as the court, they are SUPPOSED to be generally a-political, at least when it comes to this type of speech-giving. You don't see them stand much if at all, and they are wearing the robes, and sit in the front, so they know they have to behave like a kid in the front row at church. But if you look close enough, you can see Roberts and Alito, covertly clapping under their robes - swear to god, telling the whole truth on that one.
5. Watch the president fizzle and spurt out. Using some universal imagery, the pres has because impotent, and intravenous, steady streams of political Viagra would only do two things: wake a sleeping animal only to find that it's rabid, and in need of serious medical attention. Cause in point: the largest chunk of time was devoted to talking about Iraq, etc. Now, while it's laudable to think that the president is reminding us of the troops overseas in a country whose media is scarily close to forgetting about them with the presidential campaigns and down turning economy, that's not really what Bush was doing. Although he threw out some pretty notions about extending unused education benefits to soldier's spouses or children, and wanted to extend veteran's benefits and care overall, his real push was the same old thing. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, insanity is also saying and ensuring the same thing over and over again and hoping people will actually listen and approve. Bush wants whoever comes into office next to listen to his advice on the approach to the war. Good Luck with that Georgie, or more succinctly as Pelosi put it "poor baby." Even the leading generals in Iraq say that as soon as we leave, the violence will return as if we'd never been there. Eventually, even without the "timetable" that Bush dreads, we have to scale down troops- and sooner rather than later. The question becomes, for a temporary peace, that will surely be so, can we risk the American lives? Because we can kill and capture some, but many will remain, and have gone into hiding. They will come back. Bush, for the retarded monkey of a leader that he is, cannot be said to be uncaring for the situation. But he has brainwashed himself into the delusion that just because we don't say we're leaving, we're going to win. And the scare tactics of saying that if Congress doesn't pass the legislation (which will expire on Feb. 1)that allows intelligence agencies to monitor terrorist communications in America and outside it, than "our citizens will be in great danger." Now, by saying this, Bush is equipping terrorists with valuable information. Most people didn't know that this bill was set to expire, and many terrorists would probably have been unaware too. So by making it a national talking point that was also aired around the world, Bush is in affect inviting the danger. If he really cared about passing this bill AND ensuring American safety, maybe he would work from the inside, and quietly drum up support-- support that hopefully he won't get either way, because this policy is tantamount to something out of Orwell's 1984. But seriously, that was just a throw-away appeal for Bush and Cheney, would will continue to flex their over-used intelligence wing muscles regardless of how many anti-phone tapping, anti-torture bills are passed into legislation.
6. Laugh uncontrollably at Bush's attempts to broker peace in the middle east, especially between Israel and a fractured Palestine. Seriously laughable are the attempts of Bush at a joining together the other most impotent rulers - one weak Israel and it's president, and one inchoate Palestinian leader who can't control the ripping seems of his people, divided by loyalties to Hamas and Hezbollah. With less than a year to go, it's like you've set a new year's resolution much more ambitious than any vow of eating and drinking less, but with an exponentially higher risk of failing even before you've begun. In fact, resolution can't even cover it - because resolutions imply at least a Chance at change. It's so sad its hysterical.
7. Laugh even harder at his pathetic invocation of the Iranian people. Quote: "Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom." Underlying Truth: "but freedom, by our standards, is in direct contradiction to your traditions and history, so though we say we respect those standards, when we wish you the joys of our definition of freedom (which must be correct), we wish that your traditions and history are blown to shreds by our missiles, whoot whoot."
8. Try and make out all the pseudo-judeo-christian religious bent of the speech in Bush's diction.
"So tonight, with confidence in freedom’s power, and trust in the people, let us set forth to do their business."
Quote at the end of a Christian Mass:
"So let us go forth in peace, to love and serve the Lord."
" we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens."
Jesus Inspired Quote:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."
9. Other funny quote mirroring:
Speech Quote: "and the American people expect us to get it done."
Speech Quote: "On matters of science and life, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries."
"Darwin is the devil and scientists are his dirty, dirty winged mistresses, those whores."
"And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves."
"in other words the kind of dignity we normally deny to foreigners, immigrants, homosexuals, poor people, women, and terror suspects, etc."
Speech transcript here: http://www.timesocket.com/political/transcript-state-of-the-union-address-2008/