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February 12th, 2013
11:39 AM ET

Does the State of the Union matter?

By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @LisaDCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – Legions of journalists, dignitaries and self-defined VIPs will file into the Capitol tonight to watch an annual rite of democracy that is a show of power and priorities.

But, does the carefully choreographed State of the Union address affect policy after the hour-long speech ends? How much does it really matter?

[:20] James Klumpp, professor of communications and expert on presidential speeches, University of Maryland says “the State of the Union has a pretty bad reputation among those of us who study speeches, largely because so many of them end up being laundry lists of programs.”

Critics point out that the speech is often propelled by the work of dozens of agencies and programs, each lobbying the White House to include a mention of their work. However, those who have contributed to the State of the Union also insist that those litanies to the bureaucracy often can make an idea reality.

[2:07] “It is a wish list, but [the president] gets a lot of his wishes granted. It’s not like you put your tooth under the pillow, hoping for the tooth fairy,” says Bob Lehrman, longtime and former WH speechwriter, American University professor.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. James

    "Does the State of the Union matter?"–For his Highness, King Obama, the answer is NOPE–

    February 18, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bee Anderson

    Republicans are suffering from a split personality disorder, so it hard being a liberal. You have to be a psychiatric counselor when dealing with the GOP, Tea baggers and all the other personality disorders this group possess. They're split among st themselves trying to use Newt's GOPAC that's hasn't work for him, let alone them. They are so disorient that it's difficult to carry on a intelligent conversation with them. So the hell with the bi-partisan, just do what we do and all we do is win.

    February 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lin Gamble

    What I heard tonight is that the country needs unification and not party politics to make changes, and that Obama is asking for cooperation, but won't drag his feet if it isn't forthright in coming. I was most disappointed in the Republican response, which was just Obama bashing with a veneer of sympathy to the middle class. The Republicans missed an opportunity of actually identifying what programs they plan to support .... instead they came across petty, as usual. I've switched from being a Republican to Independent because of the comedic non-productiveness shown by members off the Republican party. I'm looking forward to when the next Senate and House elections occur. There's going to be a change based on the merits of what wasn't accomplished in their last term and noone but themselves are to be blamed..

    February 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
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