A Completely Non-Political State of the Union Analysis

So…this is not the result I expected.

No, I didn’t get Bingo with the card I made. But this is a good opportunity to make a brief analysis of President Trump’s speech—not a political analysis, but an analysis as a writer.

There were two major points that really jumped out at me about this speech in terms of writing style. The first was that when I was watching it, Trump’s rhythm seemed off. In many places, it sounded like he kept wandering from topic to topic at random because he would suddenly start talking about a different subject with no warning. At the time, I thought the speech sounded poorly rehearsed, like he wasn’t reading the paragraph breaks correctly, but I now think I was wrong. Upon reading the speech as prepared for delivery, it looks like it was actually written that way, and in my opinion, it did not have enough transitions between subjects.

The second thing I noticed was the style itself, which is why I lost the game with my card. I forgot how formal Trump’s previous State of the Union speech was last year, and this year’s speech was similar in style. Despite some commentators calling the speech a campaign rally, my totally amateur word analysis says it was very different in tone (regardless of substance), so putting some of Trump’s slogans and catchphrases on the card was a bad move.

In fact, there were so many words that didn’t come up that I worried I might have missed one, but I checked the transcript, and I didn’t. Even some things I did expect in a formal speech didn’t show up. The President never used the word “shutdown,” which would have given me Bingo–and in retrospect may well have been a deliberate conciliatory move. He also didn’t use “many, many,” which seems like it would be common enough in general, but he always used actual numbers instead.

I will note that I was being strict about exact matches, so I didn’t count the phrase “disastrous Iran nuclear deal” for “disaster,” nor did I count “I ask you to choose greatness” for “Make America great again,” though neither of those were winners. I could have made Bingo if I had counted “justice,” even though it wasn’t for an actual judge and “Madam Speaker” for “Pelosi,” but it clearly didn’t come out the way I expected.

Finally, all of my foreign policy picks came up in the speech, as did others including Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran. Clearly, I should have focused on foreign policy topics for my card out of the listed suggestions, since those seem to be more predictable.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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