I have lost track of the number of State of the Union addresses I have listened to over more than half a century, but not my expectations for what might be forthcoming.

Presidents may vary in their political goals and their speaking abilities, but it is in their power to focus attention on not only the major issues of the day, but what they believe should be done about them that keeps them engaged.

From time to time, as though for respite, they may pause to illustrate a point by directing attention to a guest in a balcony seat to invite applause from all.

He will also address issues that will bring applause from his party members while the opposition sits silently.

It gives assurance to those from away that freedom to demonstrate without fear in this fashion is possible.

That may be taken for granted by those in nations that do the same, but it is recognition of a freedom yet to be gained in much of the world.

Let us be thankful that television provides an opportunity for all within its reach to assess the goals of our presidents and their parties.

No one that I can recall has done it better on television than President Obama. He doesn’t address the teleprompters; he speaks with hardly looking at them, and without a stumble.

He is, of course, well rehearsed.

All presidents determine what they are going to say and those less blessed have experts to coach them in how to say it.

Some even write some of what they want him to say.

The wise ones listen to their advisors as to whether it might be better expressed and how.

There will be, or course, critics following a presidential address because this is a democratic republic.

It is also likely to engage those in other nations either dependent upon this nation for one reason or another, or see it as a threat.

What must be kept in mind is State of the Union messages are what sitting presidents see as being essential not only to the nation, but to the welfare of their party, because its beat must go on.

¢¢¢

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is plantejr@comcast.net.

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