Speaker John Boehner could have spared us tonight’s unseemly theatricality in the House chambers. Some conservatives begged the Speaker not to invite President Obama to deliver his State of the Union address to protest the president’s unconstitutional actions.

That would have meant that President Obama would have been required to submit his report on the state of the nation, as required by the Constitution, in writing, as most presidents starting with Thomas Jefferson did until Woodrow Wilson came along and wanted a bit of the spotlight.

The SOTU, according to Matt Welch of Reason, has become an empty exercise—Welch wittily illustrates this theme by taking a sentence from each SOTU since 1961. Politico has a piece on predictions for the SOTU from various political lights. Frank Luntz predicts it will be President's Obama's briefest SOTU. Please, please let him be right.  

Instead of delivering a sober assessment of the state of the union (preferably in writing), President Obama is expected to use tonight’s SOTU to taunt Republicans and to espouse tax hikes that he could not have gotten through Congress even before the GOP gained control of both houses in the November midterms. Given the devolution of the SOTU into viciousness and folly, one might have hoped that Speaker Boehner would seize on an opportunity—any opportunity—to stop this spectacle and instead receive the SOTU in writing. The SOTU has been compared to a monarch’s speech from the throne. Except that monarchs nowadays refrain from taunting people.

It will be interesting to see what the president has to say about radical Islamic terrorism. But—as with what he has to say about taxes—we sort of already know what, if anything, he will say on this pressing matter. He is likely to tout his summit on “violent extremism,” which would be effective only if the president and his administration were willing to say what kind of extremism we face. Hint: they’re not Presbyterians.

Washington Times editor emeritus Wes Pruden has a very good (and funny) column on tonight’s SOTU:

The Founders didn’t anticipate Barack Obama. If they had they would have commanded him to move tonight’s State of the Union to Halloween.

The president has been leaking dribs and drabs of this year’s “information” for days, and some of the dribs and drabs would be enough to frighten ghosts and scare goblins out of their sepulchers if anyone took any of it seriously, but no one does.

The tax riot is the president’s scheme to raise $320 billion in new taxes, raising the tax on capital gains, and eliminate tax breaks for children inheriting their parents’ savings. “Is this for real?” asked an incredulous Bob Schieffer of Dan Pfeiffer, a White House aide, on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Mr. Pfeiffer returned a sheepish smile, as if to say he had not come to town on the turnip truck, but the president is indeed real, and so is his tax riot.

He won’t get his new taxes, but he’ll make his State of the Union speech memorable, no small accomplishment.

Whether the next president is a Republican or Democrat, it might be wise for the SOTU to be delivered in writing.