Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Annual Report to State of the Union

Annual Report or State of the Union.

The latter sounds more regal. It was called the “Annual Report” until 1934 when FDR called it a “State of the Union.”

It was President Lyndon Johnson who took the annual message to Congress into prime time. Before that the constitutional required message to Congress was delivered in the afternoon either by speech or by a written report.

The only way you can judge the length of the Annual Reports or the State of the Union reports is by word count.

Old George, you know who I mean, gave the shortest. In 1790 he spoke only 1,089 words. I guess there wasn’t much state to our new union at that time.

One of the longest in terms of words was Jimmy Carter in 1981. It counted in at 33,667 words. The years of silent peanut farming must have finally exploded into verbiage.

The longest speech in time was Bill Clinton in January of 2000. His address to Congress took an hour and 28 minutes and 49 seconds. And it only contained 7,452 words. I remember taking notes on his speech so I could hi-light it for a late news audience. My hand is still tired.

The “Annual Report” wasn’t always delivered by a speech. Most times it was written. A president has delivered only 76 of the 220 messages to Congress in person.

Washington and Adams spoke before Congress. Jefferson did not and the tradition stopped until Woodrow Wilson restarted it in 1913.

Obama's prepared speech last night was 6,851 words.

Have fun at the water cooler with these facts.

This blog by the way has a word count of 277.

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