Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

America's Speech from the Throne

"I regret this cheap and tawdry imitation of English royalty."
- American Senator on Woodrow Wilson's revival of the State of the Union Presidential Address (for 112 years prior to this, the State of the Union was delivered by the President in writing)

The Cato Institute wails:

"A speech from the throne," Thomas Jefferson called it. And as Washington waits for President Bush's sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night, the monarchical metaphor seems as apt as ever.

Jefferson's primary complaint was that our first two presidents chose to deliver their annual messages in person before both houses of Congress - a practice he regarded as "an English habit, tending to familiarize the public with monarchical ideas."

...In contrast, early presidents often struck a note of modesty and self-restraint. After his third State of the Union, Washington wrote that "motives of delicacy" had deterred him "from introducing any topic which relates to legislative matters, lest it should be suspected that he wished to influence the question before it."

Jefferson made the ritual still more humble by delivering his annual message to Congress in writing.

For 112 years, presidents conformed to Jefferson's example, until populist pedagogue Woodrow Wilson delivered his first annual message in person. "I am sorry to see revived the old Federalistic custom of speeches from the throne," one senator lamented. "I regret this cheap and tawdry imitation of English royalty."

Yet Wilson's habit caught on. Most presidents in the 20th century delivered the message in person. And in 1966, Lyndon Johnson moved the speech to prime-time viewing hours, the better to reach a national audience.

Thus the State of the Union has settled into its familiar, modern incarnation: a laundry list of policy demands packaged in pomp and circumstance. And as our presidents have grown more imperial, the tone of the annual message has grown more imperious.

...George Washington most often referred to the office he held as that of "chief magistrate." Modern presidents tend to prefer the title "commander in chief," and at times seem to forget that it only makes them commander of the U.S. armed forces, not commander of the nation as a whole.

...Perhaps it's too much to expect a revival of the humble republican custom initiated by Jefferson. But when Tuesday's ritual is done, one hopes Congress can set about the business of reining in an imperial presidency.


Unrepentant Jacobite said...

With both political parties in Washington controlled by corrupt globalist fanatics, don't count on Congress doing too much to reign in President Bush.

Let us pray.