tv State of the Union Preview CSPAN March 1, 2022 12:47pm-1:04pm EST
>> tonight president biden willl deliver the state of union address address to a joint session of congress. up next, , a discussion previewg his speech and resume former presidents addressing the nation with an assistant professor of rhetoric, politics and culture at the university of wisconsin-madison. this is about 15 minutes. >> host: we want to introduce you to professor allison prasch, she teaches writer, politics and culture of the university of wisconsin in madison. professor prasch, as president biden get 24th first date of the union address, what kind of rhetoric you expect from him in this time of international crises and domestic problems? >> guest: well, hello and thanks so much for having me. i think it's important at the beginning remember the purpose
of the state of the union, it's the onlyn, constitutionally mandated incident of president of rhetoric. generally speaking presidents will utilize their state of the union address to help their audience both members of congress who are simple and also the u.s. public that's watching at home, to look to the past of where we have been, to consider our present situation, and then to chart a course for the future. as you noted in your question we're in the midst of multiple crises. i think there are at least four that biden needs to address. the first would be on the domestic front. i'm thinking about where we are in terms of the third year of the covid-19 global pandemic, a public that has the option of being vaccinated for the majority of the country, and yet is also weary of living through this global crisis. step one of the crisis that he needs to address.ee
the second is thinking about obviously the most recent events in russia, invasion of ukraine. biden's task is to explain to the u.s. public why the united states has a duty to impose sanctions on russia, but also staying on the side of allies and the west as we have done throughout the 20 century, thinking back i basely to world war ii and that era. he's also going to need to explain why u.s. sanctions towards russia that will impact the u.s.. public in terms of the economy and gas prices and inflation, , white is are valuae and i necessary, which sets up e third crisis which he needs to address which would be the current state of the u.s. economy and inflation. we are seeing it a 40 year high and that is posing significant challenges both for the biden administration and also thinking about the midterm elections. fourth and finally and perhaps most importantly, i would argue we in the midst of a crisis of
defining what american democracy is going to look like. i think if we consider and think to previous examples of state of the union addresses, we expect to the sergeant of arms introduce the president of the united states, see them walk down that aisle, should not be lost on any of us that 14 months ago the images that we saw of that gallery, the house gallery of the u.s. capitol, were of rioters attacking use capital and attempting to undermine free and fair presidential election. the juxtaposition of those images from january 6th of last year and then today, biden really needs to explain to the u.s. public what is at stake and to make an argument for what the duty is as a members of congress assembled there and also the u.s. public of how we're going to reckon with the events of january 6 and what it looks like going forward, not wrong to ensure free and fair election but also voting rights throughout the country.
>> host: professor prasch, the word rhetoric often comes withda negativeom connotation. how do you put a positive spin on that? >> guest: you're right. in fact, as i i tell my studes will often hear people utilize rhetoric as hot air or fluff. i would argue that rhetoric in that sense should be understood as how individuals utilize the powers of speech. obviously they can be used good for ill but how they utilize ability to communicate to the public to call individuals towards what isat best. that's a notion that is put forward by plato. in fact, he said if there is to be a good rhetoric is to be utilized in the service of calling individuals to what is good and right. so just as we can see individuals utilize rhetoric to flatter orr to cajole to get audiences do what might motivate the whims of one individual can
also utilize to remindd an audience of a shared experience, shared ideals and values. in the best moments of presidential rhetoric that's what we see, residents utilizing the bully pulpit, their ability to reach millions of americans and an international audience but utilizing those powers of persuasion and influence and it invitation to call an audience to be what we hope to become. >> host: you're writing a book on presidential rhetoric. who has used it effectively? >> guest: bears many good examples. i would point us to thinking about lincoln and is 1862 annual message to congress. in those days the state of the union addresses were delivered in written form. fighting 1862 abraham lincoln is going to send this message to congress months before he issued the emancipation proclamation,, the formal version of it januar.
in that speech we often noted or highlighted it is in that speech at the end the written document, that lincoln will call the assembled membersse of congresso basically support and sustain what he calls the nation's last best hope of earth. but it's important to note in that same message to congress he's pretty direct. he's pretty honest with the people reading it and then it will be circulated through newspapers to the larger public by the essentially tells members ofav congress we have both the duty and responsibility to history. this occasion he says causes us to rise to the occasion and to determine how we will be judged by history. he was very direct and honest that it will not be an easy thing to do, but also that his countrymen at the time have a duty and a responsibility to make changes in how the union has been formulated andha to
eradicate the institution of slavery. when we think about fashion we think about this car moment of crisis, a lot of political partisanship and division i would argue biden faces a similar challenge and it often is set on the campaign trail and now as president that he both believes america's best days are ahead but also promising to be honest and direct or tell it to you straight is what he will say. i thinku biden needs to somethg similar to what lincoln didn't 1862 of paint a historical narrative reminding us of what we bent and also calling both the assembled members of congress who will be in that house gallery, they are invited and able to be there at this time, but also to the largest public, reminding us that shared values or ideals and asking us to rally round that idea of national unity and charting a way forward to help us see it is possible. >> host: but hasn't the state of union address become more of a media event rather than specific policy proposals and a
so-called soaring speech? >> guest: i would say yes and no. it actually has become more of a media spectacle. you think about the media coverage that surrounds it. we also have the iconic moment often when presidents will feature guests in the house gallery that will embody their specific proposals or their policy platforms. generally speaking we can remember it for that mediated al-qaeda spectacle element, but it is also true that presidents would utilize this moment to report to the congress on the state of the union, to cast division for the policy agenda is in the coming years. so, for example, we can think of 1964 when lyndon johnson will use his first state of union speech just seven weeks after kennedy's assassination to declare a war on poverty.
or in 2000 to just four months after 9/11 george w. bush will out of the memorable line where he will call iran, iraq and north korea the axis of evil. that's a precursor to thinking about the u.s. invasion of iraq in 2003. it is true that perhaps what we immediately remember or see on our television screens or on twitter is this media spectacle we also see most of which presidents are using these speeches to give us a glimpse of what they're hoping to h accomplish and what they're going to ask congress to do. >> host: how has previous presidents besides abraham lincoln made a a more modern history use the state of the union during moments of national crisis? >> guest: i go back to to make examples. george w. bush in 2002, he speaking to the congress for months after 9/11 and the last time they were gathered in this chamber was on september 20, so just nine days after september 11, and he would
utilize this moment to both celebrate what he will call a u.s. victory in afghanistan and the fall of the taliban, but then also charting a course for what he's going to call this war on terror, and basically sketching this vision that he has of the united states role in the world to protect and defend democracy. really we see it began as a precursor to the decision to go into iraq and disposing weapons of mass destruction that the bush administration will say are in place. uses that as aio rallying cry really to set the stage of where we have been in the last four months and where we're going to go in his administration. you can also look, for example, at barack obama's first date as the union speech in 2010, and obama is speaking at that moment a year into his presidency, and in the midst of the great recession. one of the lines that we often hear or expected here is the president to tells the state of
the union is strong. we can be honest there are many moments in which it's not strong, and obama is pretty explicit about that in 2010. he acknowledges the pain and hardship and the suffering that has been experienced by millions of americans, and towards the end of hisis speech he calls on congress and the public to strengthen against the state of our union. so depending on the crisis in the moment, presidents will utilize it for the particular political ad ideological ends. but they will seek to address that crisis and to make sense of it for us, even when making sense of it for us will also serve their political agenda. >> host: professor prasch, one of the things that you focus on in teaching rhetoric and political culture is time and place. what does that bring to presidential rhetoric? >> guest: well, and , in tht of the state of the union i would stress yet again, you
mention the mediated aspect of the state of union addresses. we experience in the beginning with harry truman that they are televised and lyndon johnson is the president who brings them into prime time. we imagine or at pictures in our minds of what the stage for the setting of the state and union address will look like. so i thinknk it's important as viewers are watching this state of union address the biden will deliver is to consider how we compare what biden does to previous instances of the state of union address. it's not insignificant i would argue that biden is in this place that has become this hallowed sanctum of democracy we can envision or imagine in previous moment for example, fdr standing behind that podium and respond to the attacks of pearl harbor, or we can think again most recently about the address that biden delivered last
april 1 time that he spoke to a joint session of congress. it was notable because a small number of members of the congress were invited to sit socially distanced and mast because of covid. so as we think about how biden will deliver this address both at this particular time in u.s. history and a global pandemic and inat this place that has hed so many shared memories or visuals of what our democracy is in stands for, will have those images in our minds. ith think biden's challenge is o both reference those images, this time and this place and put in historical perspective and also remind the audience thater they have the potential the possibility to change the course of history and how we respond to our present moment. >> host: we've had about a year of the biden presidency, a year to listen to some of his speeches. where is he successful, in your view, , and where would you see
improvement? >> guest: .. direct assessments e are in terms of invasion of ukraine. i think one area biden could improve or that his speechwriters might consider is how biden can balance both being optimistic and hopeful and also being honest with the us people. i think we are at the end ... it is the end, but we're in the midst of a global pandemic that has left many people weary and exhausted. and i think we want
presidents to tell us that things are better hopeful or optimistic, but we also want them to identify with us where we are so i think he needs to strike a delicate balance between presenting a vision for the future that is hopeful and optimistic but also acknowledges real pain and suffering that's been experienced by so many people whether it's public health or the economy or the international situation and if he can do that during his state of the union and meet people where they are, that's a huge challenge when you're talking about millions of americans but i think that's his task as president and if he can figure out how to do that i would consider the state of the union address to be a success. >> president by the joint addresses a joint session of congress tonight at 8 pm eastern on the video.
>>. >> applause. >> now remarks from lieutenant colonel alexander vindman about russia's invasion of ukraine. while working at the national security council, vindman investigated joe biden's son se which ultimately led to trumps impeachment on charges of abuse of power. colonel vindman's remarks were organized by republican critics of former president trump. >> thank you very mu