Sometimes, it's interesting to follow the choice of words reporters use and wonder whether they mean to send subtle signals. Yesterday morning, in Bill Plante's report on the "Early Show" on why the State of the Union speech might be important for Bush, David Gergen explained in a soundbite that it could be crucial for maintaining the GOP majority in the next two election cycles. Plante followed up: "And that's one reason the theatrical ritual of the president appearing before Congress in this spectacle continues even though there's no requirement for it."
Spectacle? That word could connote an embarrassing appearance. A Nexis search of CBS for “spectacle” and “State of the Union” finds this from the Saturday "Early Show" of January 16, 1999, where the “spectacle” was not Clinton’s speech but the Senate impeachment trial:
RUSS MITCHELL: And, Bill, of course, the president will begin his defense on Tuesday, the--the same day he's scheduled to give his State of the Union address. What's the latest? Is there a possibility that that address will be postponed?
PLANTE: The White House hoped for a while earlier in the week that they could put off the opening of the trial, so that this president could make his State of the Union address and have that be the beginning of the White House offensive. But the Senate was not interested in doing that. So come Tuesday, you're going to have the spectacle of the trial continuing in the Senate during the day, and then that evening, in the House chamber, you will have all of the Supreme Court, all of the House and Senate, the foreign diplomats, everybody coming, and the president making his State of the Union address. It's his chance, Russ, to change the subject.