Are you smarter than a 9th grader? Then you will be quite at home with President Obama's latest State of The Union speech. While the Flesch-Kincaid readability test shows SOTU 'smartness' has been plunging Woodrow Wilson, the collapse has accelerated post-Clinton with President Obama's average SOTO speech tailored to the intellect of a 14-year-old - the lowest on record.
Vocativ also calculated the average SOTU grade for every president dating back to Woodrow Wilson, when it first became the norm to deliver such speeches before a joint session of Congress. Before Wilson, it was typically presented as a written report. Over the last century, the State of the Union’s sophistication has trended steadily downwards.
Perhaps even more sad is the spin that a former speechwriter puts on this downtrend...
“It’s tempting to read this as a dumbing down of the bully pulpit,” Shesol said.
“But it’s actually a sign of democratization. In the early Republic, presidents could assume that they were speaking to audiences made up mostly of men like themselves: educated, civic-minded landowners. These, of course, were the only Americans with the right to vote. But over time, the franchise expanded and presidential appeals had to reach a broader audience.” That, and the advent of mass communication.
Now, when President Obama addresses the country, he is addressing everyone.
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Yep - that's it.