One thing I keep hearing about this week is whether or not President Obama will say, “The state of our Union is strong.” And that got me to thinking, how often has that phrase been said either at a State of the Union address or an Address of the President to the Joint Session of Congress (you know, that first speech the president gives at the beginning of his term that’s just like the State of the Union but it’s not since he’s new to the job and doesn’t really have anything to report).
So I decided to look over all of these speeches (minus special addresses like the one right after 9/11 and the conclusion of Desert Storm) since 1986, the beginning of Reagan’s second term. I could have went back further, but hey, I’m a one man research crew.
To be honest, it was an interesting trip down memory lane reading all of these speeches, and you can certainly read them faster than they give them, because you don’t have to wait for any applause.
So what did I find? Well, it wasn’t as clear cut as I would have liked, because some didn’t actually say “the state of the Union is strong,” although there were variations, and some stated that “America” or “the nation is strong.” But looking at the variations of “the state of the Union is strong” I found it was stated 14 times over the past 24 years.
Here are the totals:
Reagan (second term only) – 1
George H.W. Bush – 1
Clinton – 5
George W. Bush – 7
Obama – 0
What’s interesting about Clinton and George W. Bush is that Clinton liked to make the statement towards the beginning of the speech, and Bush usually mentioned it towards the conclusion.
If you are interested, below the jump are the results of my research. Links are provided to the transcript of the speech (yeah, C-SPAN!) and I cut and pasted the portion of the speech with the statement, and if the statement wasn’t stated, I included what I thought was something that represented the tone of the speech or something that was pretty close to “the state of the Union is strong.”
And just for the heck of it: Longest State of the Union? Truman in 1946 (over 25,000 words). The shortest? Washington in 1790 (833 words). And Jefferson actually didn’t give a speech, he preferred sending a letter.
And yes, I enjoy presidential history way too much.
- I come before you to report on the state of our Union, and I’m pleased to report that after 4 years of united effort, the American people have brought forth a nation renewed, stronger, freer, and more secure than before.
- I am pleased to report the state of our Union is stronger than a year ago and growing stronger each day.
- We’ve had great success in restoring our economic integrity, and we’ve rescued our nation from the worst economic mess since the Depression.
- Today America is strong and democracy is everywhere on the move.
- “We’re headed the right way . . . we must take a strong America and make it even better”
- “That’s part of the future we want to see, the future we can make for ourselves, but dreams alone won’t get us there.”
- “Let me say that so long as we remember the American idea, so long as we live up to the American ideal, the state of the Union will remain sound and strong. “
- “And the state of our Union is the union of each of us, one to the other — the sum of our friendships, marriages, families, and communities.”
- Join the community of conscience. Do the hard work of freedom. And that will define the state of our Union.
- “And now to our troubles at home. They’re not all economic; the primary problem is our economy. There are some good signs. Inflation, that thief, is down. And interest rates are down. But unemployment is too high, some industries are in trouble, and growth is not what it should be. Let me tell you right from the start and right from the heart, I know we’re in hard times. But I know something else: This will not stand.”
- “Our task tonight as Americans is to make our economy thrive again.”
- “What is the state of our Union? It is growing stronger, but it must be stronger still.”
- If we agree on nothing else tonight, we must agree that the American people certainly voted for change in 1992 and in 1994. And as I look out at you, I know how some of you must have felt in 1992. [Laughter]I must say that in both years we didn’t hear America singing, we heard America shouting. And now all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, must say, “We hear you. We will work together to earn the jobs you have given us. For we are the keepers of a sacred trust, and we must be faithful to it in this new and very demanding era.”
- The state of the Union is strong.
- My fellow Americans, the state of our Union is strong.
- Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our Union is strong.
- My fellow Americans, I stand before you tonight to report that the state of our Union is strong.
- My fellow Americans, the state of our Union is the strongest it has ever been.
- America today is a nation with great challenges, but greater resources.An artist using statistics as a brush could paint two very different pictures of our country.One would have warning signs: increasing layoffs, rising energy prices, too many failing schools, persistent poverty, the stubborn vestiges of racism.Another picture would be full of blessings:a balanced budget, big surpluses, a military that is second to none, a country at peace with its neighbors, technology that is revolutionizing the world, and our greatest strength — concerned citizens who care for our country and care for each other.
- As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger.
- In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident. In a whirlwind of change, and hope, and peril, our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong.
- Our nation is strong and steadfast.
- Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world — the state of our union is confident and strong.
- Tonight the state of our Union is strong — and together we will make it stronger.
- Yet we can go forward with confidence because the State of our Union is strong, our cause in the world is right, and tonight that cause goes on.
- And so long as we continue to trust the people, our nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure and the state of our union will remain strong.
- We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.