Friday, January 13, 2017

Our Next State of the Union Will Be Tweeted

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution stipulates 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.” 

Nowhere is it stated that the President has to publicly deliver their SOTU to Congress. It may be written. Which begs this question:

Will Donald Trump Tweet his State of the Union address?

Technically, he could.

Obviously, we're talking about a year from now. So a lot of things could happen. But it's not something that is as far fetched as it might first sound. A few tidbits about the history of the State of the Union (because we all love us some tidbits!)

The first State of the Union was delivered to Congress by the first President of the United States, George Washington. Washington delivered his speech in person on January 8th, 1790. Being the first SOTU address, you'd assume it was possibly one of the longest. After all, there was an awful lot of "state" to discuss, after a war and declaration of our independence and such. Well...not even close! At 1089 words long, it was the shortest SOTU to date. Washington would go on to deliver, in person, all eight of his addresses to Congress. Washington's successor, John Adams would also deliver all of his in person. However, as a one term President, he'd only get to do it on half as many occasions.

Thomas Jefferson, a gifted scribe, but generally accepted poor public speaker, would instead choose to send his SOTU to Congress in written form. A tradition that continued until over a hundred years later (1913), when Woodrow Wilson once again addressed Congress in person.

From that point on, it varied with most Presidents preferring to address Congress in person. In fact, the last President to send their speech in writing was Jimmy Carter in 1981. And at 33,667 words, who could blame him! This also happened to be the longest State of the Union in history. So, back to Mr. Trump. Let's say he decides to Tweet his speech to Congress. Could he do it? We all know he could. After all, firing off a "tweetstorm" seems to be the standard 10-forecast with him.

But I mean, could he do it, legally?

While I'm not a Constitutional scholar (our current President is, let's keep HIM!), it could be argued that Tweeting would fulfill the requirement to "...give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union." I'm certain Mr. Trump would judge every one of his tweets as necessary and suggest Tweeting is in fact, the most expedient method of delivery.

But how would he do it?

Let's discount the fact that he could probably Tweet throughout the year and call that a "State of the Union," under the lax definition of "time to time."

Instead let's breakdown what it would look like if he picked one night in January of 2018 to send a hailstorm of Tweets.

First off, how many Tweets would it require?

As mentioned above States of the Union have varied in length from 1089 to 33,667 words!

That's a ton! And even before that, Twitter limits each Tweet to 140 characters, not words.

So we're going to have to get a little creative with our math and take a couple leaps of faith (two things Republicans LOVE to do!)

According to Peter Norvig, a computer scientist (as well as the Director of research at Google)

The average is 4.79 letters per word, and 80% are between 2 and 7 letters long.

This breakdown includes words that are often reused in sentences, like "and" or "the" etc. This seems perfect for our assessment as Tweets are often repetitive. Also, most people Tweeting know how to use "shorthand" writing to allow for minimal character usage. So we'll round up to 5. Then, we'll even add another to our number since Luminoso, an artificial-intelligence analytics company, once determined Trump's most used words were "disaster," "NAFTA," and "border." Which average out to closer to 6.
Also his favorite word is six letters, "Donald."

According to, they have tracked 230 speeches.
*Though, some of which admittedly are not official "States of the Union," but rather speeches given at the start of a President's administration. This has been the practice since Reagan took office in 1981.

So 230 speeches with 1,770,245 words (only 27,802 are unique words - I guess there really aren't any new ideas). This brings us to 7696.7 words on average.

Far be it from me to label Mr. Trump average (or normal for that matter), so we'll go ahead and bump his up to 7800 words. This is almost 500 words longer than President Obama's longest address, so this should make Trump fans happy (as if anything ever could).

7800 words x 6 letters/characters per word = 46800 characters.

That alone would be 334 Tweets (It's like me watching an awards show!)

BUT WAIT! We're not done. 

Those are just Tweets without being addressed to anyone. These need to be address to Congress. Here's the rub: Congress doesn't have a Twitter account. Oh sure, each Congress Person does...some more than 1 account. And then different caucuses and subgroups have them...but there isn't a @Congress account. At least not one without this warning:

Tweeting too many dickpics, right?

So instead, we're going to have to use a hashtag. #CONGRESS takes up 9 characters (including the number sign), so let's fine something shorter. How about #SOTU? 5 characters, but that means it's going to be used 334 times bumping up the actual number of tweets needed. So in the art of this deal let's do this:

334 x 5 = 1675
46800 + 1675 = 48475
48475 \ 140 = 347 


So there you have it. 347 Tweets could be the next State of the Union address by the soon to be President of the United States. An address which was once written (8 times) by the same man of careful composition who wrote our Declaration of Independence.

"But Kevin! Donald Trump would never miss out on the face time he gets with The State of the Union."

You think he'd pass up being the #FIRST person to give the State of the Union in such a unique way?

Besides, how else can he properly displace his love for Vladimir Putin than by Tweeting this gem in the middle of his stately address?

We'll know next January.

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