The only thing different (or maybe not as this is being posted on the eve of the 2011 State of The Union), is the level of civility (professionalism?) on the parts of both sides of the aisle. Despite the vicious rancor that often marked the Clinton Presidency, there was a level of civility to be had, even if it was to the music of tepid applause on the Republican side.
President Clinton: "I don't want to destroy the good atmosphere in the room or in the country tonight, but I have to mention one issue that divided this body greatly last year. The last Congress also passed the Brady Bill and, in the crime bill, the ban on 19 assault weapons. I don't think it's a secret to anybody in this room that several members of the last Congress who voted for that aren't here tonight because they voted for it. And I know, therefore, that some of you who are here because they voted for it are under enormous pressure to repeal it. I just have to tell you how I feel about it.
The members of Congress who voted for that bill and I would never do anything to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms to hunt and to engage in other appropriate sporting activities. I've done it since I was a boy, and I'm going to keep right on doing it until I can't do it anymore. But a lot of people laid down their seats in Congress so that police officers and kids wouldn't have to lay down their lives under a hail of assault weapon attack -- and I will not let that be repealed. I will not let it be repealed."
Then as now, the media were abandoning responsibility and actively engaged in the dumbing down process.
Pres. Clinton: "For people in the entertainment industry in this country, we applaud your creativity and your world-wide success, and we support your freedom of expression. But you do have a responsibility to assess the impact of your work and to understand the damage that comes from the incessant, repetitive, mindless violence and irresponsible conduct that permeates our media all the time."
Despite being directed at Hollywood in general, you can't help but think the addition of "irresponsible conduct that permeates our media" was somehow aimed at the news outlets. In any event, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
The new word to be gotten out of the SOTUS was the word "covenant". It sounded nice at the time, but like the honeymoon with Congress, didn't last that long either.