The president’s State of the Union address is often heralded as the Super Bowl of Politics. But though there are cheerleaders at both events and everyone has their favorite team, there are some major differences.
For instance, Super Bowl fans don’t stake out their aisle seats all day long, as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, does at nearly each State of the Union. There are also no $30 beer runs allowed during the boring parts.
And sadly, no penalty flags are thrown in the House chamber – though depending on the NFL Championship, game flags can be scarce there as well.
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Despite the differences, there are some lessons that President Trump could glean from the Super Bowl for his speech Tuesday night.
Have a plan and execute it: For a president who likes to govern and speak from his gut, this can be hard lesson to absorb.
The Rams and Coach Sean McVay went into the Super Bowl as the brash upstarts who were going to take down the old Patriots. But as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick proved on Sunday, experience matters and properly sizing up the opposition is critical.
Belichick’s superior planning and well-executed defensive strategies denied the Rams a chance to score a touchdown and rattled the Rams quarterback.
With a divided Congress, President Trump is going to have to come up with his own defensive plan and execute it. In the recent partial government shutdown, the plan was not apparent. As the president heads into a second possible shutdown, he needs to show his supporters a bit of the underlying strategy.
Boring can end in victory: Though the Patriots victory over the Rams did not make for the most exciting viewing, the Patriots did what they had to do and prevailed.
The Democrats will have a coordinated resistance plan and engage in lots of theatrics, if recent history is any indicator. I expect a raucous response to the president.
Like Belichick and his team, the president needs to stick to the plays, be the adult in the room, and remember that steadiness has its advantages. People want a sure hand running the ship of state, not a brawler or a reactionary. Bold, statesmanlike rhetoric that is reasoned and calm will win the day.
Play for keeps when it matters: If Adam Levine’s paint-by-numbers halftime show teaches us anything, it is that you don’t want to play it too safe.
President Trump should deliver his speech with his usual borscht belt gusto, which is always entertaining. And on his big issues like immigration, he should swing for the fences.
Amping up the passion while making the case for his major issues and painting a picture of exactly what his policies will mean to every American might just enable the president to break the political gridlock in Washington.
But whatever he does, the president should keep the tank top on, move like himself and kill the SpongeBob cameo.
Remember that Americans want to be united. Gladys Knight proved this with her national anthem performance. Indications are that that unity will be a major part of the State of the Union speech. More than anything else, this is what America needs to hear now.
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Economic prosperity will get us nowhere is there is racial, ethnic and religious disunity. The American people want a leader who will fight for us while reminding us of the things that bind us together.
If the president can assume that mantle his State of the Union speech will position him well for re-election in 2020 and strengthen his hand for the congressional battles that lay ahead. And having Gladys Knight sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before he starts speaking couldn’t hurt.