I have not attended many classical dance performances, but I have seen ‘The Nutcracker’ a few times. I love dancing, but I do not enjoy the ballet (I thought Black Swan was creepy). I am a verbal, word loving, talk to me, sing to me, move me with your music kinda gal. Attending the ballet surprised me….get ready, here comes a jump, time to clap. Oops someone spun and leaped again, time to applaud. Honestly, I felt like every time somebody lifted themselves off the ground we were supposed to clap. I couldn’t relax and enjoy the show. I found all the applause embarrassing for the performers.

Watching the State of the Union address last night was like being back at the ballet. But this time I am watching non-verbal partisan applause politics. Look Biden is smiling and clapping, but Boehner isn’t. Look everyone is standing, oops, now only a smattering of people are applauding …OK now everyone is standing again, but half of them stood up only after everyone else in their row did. After 15 minutes I realized I was no longer even listening to Obama’s words, I was too preoccupied with the non-verbal dynamics of the players in the audience. (I also wonder if attending the State of the Union Address can be considered a form of exercise…I mean, how many calories do they burn with all that up and down?)

I can tell by the “clap-o-meter” that Boehner doesn’t want oil subsidy or defense spending cuts. Biden doesn’t want to repeal health care reform but Boehner was non-committal. Biden thought Obama’s salmon joke was funny, Boehner looked angry. (And by the way, if I HAVE to look at two people sitting behind the speaking president, can I mention how I seriously resent that there is no longer a woman there), Also, I find the whole, “let me tell you a story about real Americans who have struggled this year” (who also happen to be sitting in the gallery) extremely canned and slightly embarrassing for the President (OK, except for the guy who designed the miner rescue capsule).

The State of the Union Address is an example of extreme political theater; it doesn’t conform to the standards of a great speech since everyone in the room is a part of the show. It’s distracting, unclear, tense and frankly only worth watching to hear what isn’t said. To me, that’s an exhausting speech to have to endure. Almost as bad as a tour jete!
-Charlotte Dietz