Video of the Day: How to Write a State of the Union Address

A behind-the-scenes look at the process of writing the president's third annual speech to a joint session of Congress is The West Wing in real life.

Behind The Scenes: Writing the 2012 State of the Union Address from The White House on Vimeo.

Since James Fallows posted his annual annotation of the State of the Union today, we figured this video would complement it nicely. It's basically Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing in real life: members of the White House team -- chief speechwriter Jon Favreau, adviser David Plouffe, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and others -- walk through the process that goes into creating the speech. The video is essentially just public-relations fluff, but as long as you watch it with that in mind, it offers an interesting perspective on how the various parts of the machine work: the policy people, like Sperling, the political gurus, like Plouffe, and the word people, like Favreau, have to reach a consensus that both pleases the president and meets all their needs -- and then it has to make it through fact-checking.

Once you've watched the video, go to Fallows' piece to see what the result was and how well it worked.

Presented by

David A. Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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