Rich Galen

I am in Paris for one afternoon and overnight because the non-stop service from Oujda, Morocco to Dulles International Airport just outside Washington, DC hasn't yet begun.

We flew into Orly Airport which is the Newark Airport of Europe. If you can arrange a trip that doesn't include Orly, I recommend you do that.

But, any story that ends with, "and then we had dinner in Paris" is a pretty good story.

Washington, DC is awash in activity surrounding the President's State of the Union address tomorrow night at nine Eastern time.

As we have discussed before, every association, DC-based government affairs office, lobbying shop, law firm, union, and coalition is working like the devil to get its client's issue mentioned in the President's remarks.

The State of the Union address is, like so much of what goes on in Our Nation's Capital, based upon the U.S. Constitution which says in Article II, section 3 that the President:

"shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient ..."

I keep telling you that the Constitution is the Official Rule Book of Washington, and that is but one more example.

According to the official webpage of the U.S. House of Representatives, the State of the Union Address wasn't called that until 1942. Prior to that (starting in 1790) it was known as the "Annual Message" even though the Constitution only requires the President to report "from time to time."

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), both George Washington and his successor John Adams delivered their remarks in person, but:

"President Jefferson abandoned the practice as "monarchical" and time consuming, sending written messages instead.

This precedent was followed until President Wilson personally appeared before Congress in 1913. President Franklin Roosevelt adopted Wilson's practice of personal delivery, and it has since become a contemporary tradition.

In the earliest days the "Annual Message" was more like a Chairman's report to the Board and included details about what the Departments and Agencies had spent and what funding they needed. The CRS reports that rather than having a representative of the opposite party deliver the response:

"Each house subsequently debated and approved official replies to the President's message, which were then delivered personally to the President by delegations of Senators and Representatives."

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at