Assuming that he doesn't dissolve Congress and install his dog Barney as High Chancellor between now and tonight, Our Lord and Ruler King George IV is scheduled to give his State of the Monarchy address to his loyal subjects this evening.
Personally, I tend to prefer the president in more informal settings. When he's out on the stump, speaking to a carefully pre-selected crowd of adoring fans in a hermetically-sealed environment, he tends to relax and fall into his patented I-Think-You're-Retarded speaking style. You know, the one where he repeats the same statement over and over again with just the smallest grammatical variations? ("I'm a problem solver. In other words, I solve problems. There's a problem, see, and I solve it.")
Sure, there are some weaknesses in that approach. There's always an awkward silence when the president removes his coat and dress shoes and puts on his colorful sneakers and sweater, before heading off to consult with his counterpart, King Friday of the Land of Make Believe. But the appearance of the magic trolley helps dispel that.
The formal structure of the congressional address lends itself to a completely different style. Unlike the circle-of-trust rallies that Bush holds to make himself feel better, these audiences contain actual, certified Democrats and, as a result, the president gets a little skittish. He falls out of his comfort zone and has to rely on a different approach altogether.
All evidence to the contrary, the president will begin by declaring that "the state of our union is strong." The body of the speech will consist of variations on six or seven phrases, and at least three of those will be the word "freedom." There will be a couple shout-outs to his homies in the crowd -- Mrs. Alito, in tears; an Iraqi woman, in tears; the Constitution, in shreds; etc. -- and standing ovations from the GOP robots every time he manages to get through a sentence without swallowing his tongue.
Even though I know all this will happen, I keep watching the State of the Union addresses for one reason -- I know there's a slim, slim chance that some enterprising young computer hacker, whacked out on Cheetos and Mountain Dew in his mom's basement, is going to figure out a way to hack into the TelePrompTer. Will the hacker replace the text with, say, a Letter to Penthouse, and trust that President Ron Burgundy will simply read along? Or will the hacker just let the screen go dark, and thereby ensure that a slowly spreading circle of darkness also appears in the president's codpiece zone? Either way, hilarity will ensue.
Please drop your own hopes, fears, and over/under predictions about the State of the Union in the comments below. We can get through this together, people.