Live-blogging the State of the Union

Getting ready to watch the State of the Union on ETV (less hoopla than on the commercial stations, I find), and it occurs to me that maybe I should share some observations as we go along. Y’all join in if you’re so inclined…

41 thoughts on “Live-blogging the State of the Union

  1. Brad

    Just before the president walked up the aisle, Mark Shields was noting that Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas aren’t there. I wonder why THOSE three, in particular. Does that mean something? Scalia made it to the Tea Party thing, but not this…

  2. Brad

    Like what he just said about the important thing isn’t whether they can sit together tonight, but whether they can work together tomorrow.

    That still doesn’t make me feel better about those who couldn’t be bothered to sit together tonight — because they have made it clear they have NO intention of working together tomorrow.

  3. Brad

    “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment…”

    Hmm. I like the neo-JFK sound of that, except that… well… MY generation’s Sputnik moment was on Oct. 4, 1957. If I remember correctly.

  4. Brad

    Who was that sandy-haired fella they showed on ETV right after Obama said that? He was sort of grimacing… Reason I ask was that he looked like Mike Fair, but I don’t know why he’d be there…

  5. Brad

    Yes, rather than subsidizing yesterday’s energy, lets invest in the future. I mean, yeah, if we’re going to spend on energy. Which I think we should…

  6. Brad

    As I listen, I want to hear him answer this question… Yeah, I know he wants us to “invest,” in some good stuff, too.

    But… why didn’t we spend the “stimulus” on that stuff? That’s what we should have spent it on…

    I guess the answer is that the stimulus wasn’t a rational, integrated plan, but a classic congressional production…

  7. Brad

    Is Boehner suffering from indigestion, or does he always look like that?

    As I know from limited stage experience in the distant past, the hardest thing for an actor to do (and do well, that is) is to react to someone else acting or speaking.

    Joe Biden, surprisingly, does it well (I say surprisingly, because a you would not think a guy who talks as much as he does would be all that good at listening). Seems natural. Nancy Pelosi always looked weirdly uncomfortable doing it, even though she was trying to look pleasant, I’m sure. Boehner is no better at it. You want to offer him some bicarb.

  8. Brad

    One of the problems with live-blogging is that you type something, and while you’re typing you miss something, and you’re like, “What did he just say?”

    In case you’re having trouble keeping up, here’s the text….

  9. Doug Ross

    Scalia hasn’t been at the last ten SOTU… sorry, no conspiracy.

    “Meanwhile, Justice Antonin Scalia told The Hill on Monday that that he hasn’t “gone to the State of the Union in at least 10 years, and I’m not starting tomorrow night either.”

    This should come as no surprise. The conservative justice told legal analyst Jan Crawford in an interview at the Federalist Society dinner last fall not to expect him. “It is a juvenile spectacle, and I resent being called upon to give it dignity,” he said. “It’s really not appropriate for the justices to be there.”


    If you want to understand John Boehner and what an utterly corrupt hack he is, read last week’s Rolling Stone article:

  10. Doug Ross

    Obama wants the tax code simplified. Me too. I’ll give him 18 monhts. If he can accomplish that ONE task, I’ll vote for him. Any bets on that one happening?

  11. Brad

    Thanks for joining me, Doug.

    Yes, it’s a political spectacle, and actually unnecessary — the president would fulfill his responsibility by sending a letter. But that’s sort of pedantic of the justice. Especially if he’s not too fastidious to attend a Tea Party function. Don’t tell me an event is silly or juvenile if you’ll go to something like that…

    But the reason I was asking was that it occurs to me that it’s not a bad idea to have some critical members of the government skip such events — in case of major terror event, for instance.

    But I was wondering about the implications of the only Supreme Court justices to survive a Tom Clancy moment (actually, now we should say another 9/11) being Scalia, Alito and Thomas. And I’ve got nothing against those guys — especially Alito. I’m just thinking it would be uncomfortable for the Court to have only one wing left.

  12. Brad

    Nice thing about the Dems and Repubs sitting together is that it’s easier to see, via TV, when they’re reacting differently. So it was that we saw John McCain standing up and grinning and applauding when the pres said he’d veto any bill with earmarks, while John Kerry just sat there…

  13. Brad

    The president just affirmed the concept of the War on Terror (which to many Dems doesn’t exist) more firmly than I’ve heard him do before: “And we have sent a
    message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts
    of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will
    defeat you.”

    I’ll bet McCain stood up for that one, too. Hope Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman did as well.

  14. Brad

    “This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El
    Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas.”

    I like that. I’d like it even better if he’d push to get the Colombia Free Trade Agreement approved…

  15. Doug Ross

    The commentators mentioned beforehand that Ken Salazar, the Secretary of Interior, was the designated person who is kept in a secure location during the SOTU.

  16. Brad

    More affirmation for concepts underlying War on Terror: “We must never forget that the things we’ve struggled for, and fought
    for, live in the hearts of people everywhere.” George W. Bush used to say that all the time, and it was ideas such as that informed the international communitarianism that led Tony Blair to join us in the struggle.

    Actually, it’s a very basically American thought that a generation ago would not have been all that controversial. But to here a Democratic president say it in 2011 is meaningful, and I appreciate it.

  17. Doug Ross

    Wonder how long the Joint Chiefs spent practicing their scowls in anticipation of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” moment? Hey, fellas, that’s your boss up there speaking…

  18. Brad

    A friend said Joe Wilson was trending on Twitter. I guess a lot of people were keeping an eye on him tonight.

    He’s not trending now, though. I see that Joe Biden is. Sputnik, too.

  19. Brad

    Well, it’s over. And here’s another hazard of live-blogging… You examine tree after tree, but it’s harder to watch the forest that way.

    I don’t have, at this moment, an overall impression of the speech. There were bits I like; other bits I was less enchanted with (although nothing that I actively disliked, really).

    But I’ll have to think about it further to decide what I think overall…

    Mark Shields just said it was “Reaganesque” in a way…

    Michael Gerson said it was more like Clinton.

    I think both mean to praise him…

  20. Brad

    President’s autographing copies of his speech. I can see how people might want that, but it’s really an odd thing for a president to be doing. I guess he’s used to being asked to do things like that.

  21. Brad

    Apparently, Joe behaved… although it was sometime after the speech before I realized what he’d done last time… I missed it right when it happened.

    But I DO remember overall groaning and hooting during that speech, and it just occurred to me that I did NOT hear any of that tonight. And THAT is a great improvement…

  22. Brad

    By the way, here’s what Joe Wilson had to say about the speech tonight:

    Congressman Wilson Responds to the State of the Union Address

    (Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union Address to the new 112th Congress:

    “Americans today are facing a very sobering reality – 15 million Americans are out of work, the national unemployment rate has been above 9 percent for a record 20 straight months, record deficits are ballooning to the tune of $14 trillion, and the federal government is trying to implement the takeover of health care. Like many families watching tonight, I was listening to hear the President’s plan to address these concerns and put America back on the path to prosperity. Conservatives in the 112th Congress are committed to limited spending and addressing our bloated deficit. The President must work with the Republicans to ensure that job creation and spending cuts become reality.

    “Looking forward, job creation should be the focus of the 112th Congress. Americans across the country are looking for immediate relief in regards to employment. We will help create jobs by stopping out-of-control spending, shrinking the size of government, and reducing government regulation barriers to job creation.

    “In the first weeks of the new Congress, House Republicans have acted on our pledge to cut spending by: cutting Congress’ own budget by 5 percent which immediately saved taxpayers $35 million a year; eliminating millions of dollars in wasteful and unnecessary spending at the Government Printing Office; and voting to repeal Obamacare, which would save $2.6 trillion that the legislation is expected to cost taxpayers. Deficit cutting legislation like H. Res. 38, which directs committees to cut non-discretionary spending to Fiscal Year 2008 levels, are quickly becoming the standard and no longer the exception.

    “I look forward to working with Speaker John Boehner and Republican Leadership in continuing to make good on our Pledge to America,” said Congressman Wilson.

    Well, it’s an improvement over “You lie!” Even though it is SO Joe Wilson to say he looks forward to working with HIS party, without mentioning Dems. Hey, it was a start SITTING with them, I guess…

  23. Brad

    And here’s what Carol Fowler said:

    “Over the past two years, President Obama has accomplished an incredible amount to get our country back on track.  He pulled our economy back from the brink of depression and restored economic growth, and is continuing to support job creation here in South Carolina and across the country.  He enacted historic health reforms, guaranteeing that South Carolina families and businesses can secure quality health coverage at a more affordable price.  He strengthened America’s national security by bringing our country’s combat operations in Iraq to an end and focusing on combating terrorists wherever they live.  He supported greater equality for American service members with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and for women with the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  And he is supporting new opportunities for South Carolina children through student lending reform and educational innovation.

    “Tonight, President Obama made it clear that he will continue to build upon these accomplishments over the next year, enabling more families to achieve the American Dream and cementing a new foundation for American prosperity. He laid out his priorities for the future—to build our economy, create jobs and opportunity, and out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build our competitors.  He outlined the way we must deal with the debt and deficit and reform our government for the 21st century.   I think I can say without a doubt that all of us this evening were delighted to hear the President’s aims for the next year, and we are excited to join him in realizing his vision for a more perfect union.  As we heard from President Obama tonight, America will win the future.”

    So now you have it from both sides.

    As for me, I’m going to call it a night…

  24. Phillip

    Brad, you seemed to hear in Obama’s words an affirmation of the so-called War on Terror. You should have posted the entire context of the quote you cited:

    “In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.”

    In other words, the “you” is Al-Qaeda, the group that attacked us in 2001, and any closely associated allies. Not the amorphous “bull-in-the-china-shop” approach of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, which set us so far behind in Afghanistan and Pakistan and strengthened Iran’s hand so greatly in the region.

    Meanwhile, as Obama spoke, the wave of democracy does indeed seem to be continuing to sweep forth in the Middle East. Interesting to see how the US will react if and when Mubarak is swept from power in Egypt and replaced with a very strong Islamist government with much greater hostility towards Israel. If free elections follow and ratify such a government there, what will be our reaction?

  25. Ralph Hightower

    With Joe Wilson patting himself on the back for the House successfully Obamacare, I wonder what the House is going to tackle next.

    Will the GOP House now repeal the Law of Gravity?

  26. bud

    When did the President change parties? I could have sworn I voted for a liberal Democrat in 2008 but what we ended up with was a pandering conservative who is trying to engage those on the right. What is all this nonsense about the “struggle” to win the hearts and minds of folks everywhere. Pure Bush crap. And what is this about a government freeze????? We need more government spending not less while unemployment is running so high. It’s no wonder we still have such high unemployment, the president is following the conservative prescription for failure. SIGH!

  27. Bart

    Surprise! Surprise! Barack Obama is nothing but another politician, repeating the same message that has been repeated since STOTU has been around.

    Independence from foreign oil has been the theme for presidents since Nixon. The economy and the need to grow it – same thing. Working together across the aisle – same line, different administration. I could just about recite every talking point without thinking.

    Then the obligatory responses from the other side telling us they know how to get us out of the mess we are in. THEY have the answers, not the party in power. Doesn’t matter whether it is Democrat or Republican, same old tired blah, blah, blah.

    bud, I wouldn’t worry about Obama becoming a conservative. Just because he seems to have TURNED to the center doesn’t mean he has MOVED to the center. What he expects is for the center to come join him. He has no intention of joining them. Besides, a spending freeze is a good re-election tool. Shows he is paying attention to the budget. Won’t last long and all of us know, a spending freeze won’t play in Peoria.

  28. Jim Duffy

    I find it less than sincere that the President speaks now about sharing ideas and working together with the Republicans. I note that this was not the case the past two years when the Democrats held all the votes and control. He did not allow Republicans to offer amendments or even make comments in some instances. I recognize that this was the work of the House and Senate leaders, but the President could have overridden those positions. What matters is who has the votes and control.

  29. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    @ Jim Duffy — I believe that much of the mess that is so-called “Obamacare” was a result of concessions made to Republicans. I believe that the President and the Democrats for the most part wanted a single-payer public plan, but tried to meet the Right halfway. Now it appears that the sop to private enterprise–keeping private insurance companies in the game–is what the Right is using to attack it!

  30. Brad

    Jim, you’re right to say, “I recognize that this was the work of the House and Senate leaders…”

    Personally, I think the president’s greatest sin as a leader the last couple of years is that he simply deferred to much to Congress. Yes, we need to honor the legislature’s prerogatives in shaping legislation, but when you’re the president, and something as complex as the stimulus or health care reform is your top priority, you don’t sit back and see what the compromise, something-for-everybody machine comes up with. You offer a coherent PLAN, and advocate for it through the Congress. I just felt like on those two issues (and possibly others), Obama just sat back to watch the legislation happen. Which was a bad idea…

  31. Burl Burlingame

    “This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas.”

    This remind me of something both parties are studiously avoiding — the eventual recognition of Cuba.

  32. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Yes, Brad– I’m disappointed with how he squandered his “mandate” by trying to appease the unappeasable.


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