It's the first State of the Union for an arguably overexposed President, and CNN is saying we're looking at 65 minutes or so -- longer than most, though perhaps not Clinton-esque. We'll be multi-liveblogging as we go after the jump!
Is he where Reagan was in his first SOTU? Should he be conducting a fighting retreat on health care or urging a more maximalist policy than he has to this point? And wither the tax cuts and budget freezes we've been hearing leaked lately?
8.05: trying to announce the President, but being talked over?
8.06: "Yay?" Couldn't we at least cheer "Huzzah?" The Dems seem more rambunctious than Republicans in the Bush years...
8.12: a professorial beginning, laying out the history of why we're here tonight. That's ok.
8.13 "we chose to move forward as ...one people." "Now danggit, pass my legislation, youse."
8.16: "the numbing weight of our politics" seems like an odd dig at democracy. Viva divided government!
8.17 no Bushian cutting to the chase -- "our union is strong" comes late
8.18: "a government that matches their decency" -- the first jab at Bush. Will there be many?
8.19: so he follows policies he hates? That seems exceedingly strange. Shouldn't he like programs that he believes will lead to long-term stability?
8.24: and so the program layout begins, calling for a second stimulus. If we follow the logic he proposed a moment ago on the bank tax, those who take government money can and should later be assessed higher taxes, because their profits were derived from the government. It strikes me that small businesses should be worried about tax hikes a year from now.
8.28: but this talk of tax breaks sounds, at first blush, like a conciliatory measure to the GOP.
8.33: "I am not interested in punishing banks." Turnabout is fair play, and the major banks deserve some level of government control for having taken government money. But a the proposed expansion is pushing things much farther.
8.38: a "national export" bureaucracy? Hmm. It reminds me of the tire war with China. This smells like trade protectionism, but he doesn't expand. Expanding Doha would be a very good step indeed, but talk of making sure others "play by the rules" smacks of the worrisomely populist side that Obama tends to call on.
8.42: pushing tax credits for college is not a bad idea, but forgiving the debt after 10 years if graduates go into government service seems like a great way to grow a tremendously bloated civil service that becomes an unsustainable tax liability. That's not such a good idea.
8.44: if you're playing Reason's drinking game, you're probably well gone by now.
8.45: what's with the weird Michelle Obama "sit down" move? Weird.
8.49: O will "not walk away from" people without health care. I will walk away from the SOTU to get a beer. My dog will remain laying at my feet. Should I let Obama know about this?
8.49: actually, Tesla will walk away from me. My feet will be a bit colder for the rest of the SOTU.
8.50: the Republicans have nothing to boo about when Obama talks about the GOP spending like drunken sailors. They did, and shame on them for having done so.
8.52: we'll freeze spending! Well, except...
8.53: aha, we'll freeze spending by raising taxes on certain folks.
8.54: when the Senate doesn't do what I like, I'll just do it anyway.
8.59: "hey, let's post things online!" About damn time. You couldn't have done this the moment you took office?
9.02: so, Obama's committed to health care reform, and is taking shots at the folks who have started running. But the GOP has never suggested the Dems need 60 votes to do anything -- that's been all the Democrats, who even with 60 votes, still couldn't pass their agenda. Ridiculous.
9.04: regarding Obama's thoughts on cutting spending...
9.05: and regarding better ideas and the door being open...
9.09: talking about SALT treaties seems a bit ridiculous given our counterpart's continued intransigence.
9.13: repealing "Don't ask don't tell." Good. He's going to take a lot of flak for this from the right, but it absolutely is "the right thing to do." Only I have the sinking feeling that this will turn into another Gitmo -- it sounds nice, and is a great talking point for a certain faction with a vested interest, but will ultimately get bogged down in the details. But one can hope... after all, that's what Obama is all about. Dashed hope, perhaps, but hope nonetheless.
9.16: we must have faith in this country! Wait, what was I saying about "hope" and "change"?
9.20: he lost me in the rhetoric for the last few minutes, and then all of a sudden he was done. But overall he didn't succumb to his worst tendencies -- getting bogged down in details or getting to overblown in empty rhetoric. Not a bad speech; in a certain way, I think it was indeed a fighting retreat, especially on health care -- claiming the battle isn't finished, but proposing nothing new, and demanding no immediate progress. But not a bad speech. I'm sure we here at the blog will have much to say about it.