POLITICS

The state of the union is getting dumber

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

Presidential speeches have gotten progressively dumber since George Washington gave the first State of the Union address in 1790, according to the Guardian.

The Guardian ranked each president’s State of the Union addresses by reading level, with a colorful graph showing a steady downward trend from the Founding Fathers to modern presidents.

President Obama ranks second-lowest of every president in history with a reading level of 9.2, using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test on a scale of 8 to 26. Only George H.W. Bush ranks lower, at 8.6.

The Guardian also gives a sample “average sentence” for each president from one of their State of the Union speeches.

President Obama’s average sentence: “And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout.”

George W. Bush, who was the butt of jokes about his intelligence while he was in office, ranked a 10, above Bill Clinton, Lyndon B. Johnson, Obama and his father George H.W. Bush.

The president with the highest ranking is James Madison, who comes in at an intelligent 21.6. State of the Union pioneer George Washington ranks 17.9. A soundbite from our first president:

“In pursuing this course, however, I can not forget what is due to the character of our Government and nation, or to a full and entire confidence in the good sense, patriotism, self-respect, and fortitude of my country-men.”

You can see the graph and full rankings here.

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