In for a penny, in for a pound. I'll be live-blogging the speech at this post (refresh for updates).
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9:25: Alright, I'm out for the night (I have no interest in hearing McDonnell's response). I might have a broader reaction post up later, or I might not. Anyway, thanks for hanging with me, and have a nice night!
9:20: "We don't quit. I don't quit." Great finish, to a good but not great speech. B/B+.
9:18: The recurring theme of this speech is about pressing forward, and not being timid. Yet in terms of what is actually being proposed, there aren't any blockbusters. It's a weird contrast. You can't do "Give 'em hell, Barack" without some hellraising to give.
9:13: Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell comes in the civil rights section of the speech. I expected it to be in the national security section, but I prefer it here.
9:12: "America must always stand on the side of human freedom and dignity. Always." Always.
9:08: The defense stuff is pretty good, but it's nothing new. Bring the troops home, torture is bad, security and liberty aren't at odds. Veteran care would be a wedge issue if Democrats were more ruthless.
9:02: "Democrats, we have the largest majority in decades," is the civil way of saying "pass the damn bill".
9:00: I agree with the sentiment behind Obama's plea for civility, but I can't help but wonder if it makes him look weak. The oblique attack against Senate holds is appreciated, but perhaps too quiet.
8:57: Here comes the smackdown of the Supreme Court. I was wondering if he'd go there. They sit stony face (it would have been cool if the dissenters had given a hearty "hell yeah", but oh well).
8:55: Obama's dig on Republicans ("that's what we did for 8 years") is not exactly accurate. The problem was that Republicans never were serious (and still aren't serious) about deficit reduction -- so of course deficits would rise on their watch.
8:52: The spending freeze is a promise he's simply not going to keep, particularly given the exemption for defense spending.
8:51: And here comes the neo-Hooverist portion of the speech.
8:46: Obama has always been a fan of this format -- he loves having a free rein to give out laundry lists, and explain policies, and clear up misconceptions. It brings out his inner wonk. And the good thing about Democratic policies is that the policies themselves tend to be popular, which is why they're so rarely attacked based on their actual content.
8:44: "I didn't take on health care because it's good politics." With all due respect, Mr. President, it's only a strike if you watch it as it sails by.
8:43: Health insurance reform finally comes up. This ought to be good.
8:41: Education focus is good, focus on community college is better. I approve. And student loan reform! Fabulous -- if it ever gets through Congress.
8:36: I wonder who Joe Biden just looked at with a shit-eating grin when Obama passive-aggressively mocked climate change deniers. I'm banking on James Inhofe.
8:35: Nuclear power! I'm surprised and pleased.
8:31: Finally, some aggression. This speech was feeling pretty conservative for awhile. Now Obama is bringing out the big guns against the persistent calls for delays, and that's a good thing. Anything that takes some wind out of the sails of spineless centrists who are afraid of their own footsteps.
8:30: Attacking the record of the Bush administration (even indirectly) is a weird thing. It's perfectly accurate, but is there anything left in the well?
8:28: Infrastructure! And it's the high-speed rail project in Florida that I've heard good things about! Excellent.
8:27: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) doesn't like helping community banks, I guess. Or using the big bank's money to pay for it.
8:24: New jobs bill is the first concrete policy proposal. Doubling down on the stimulus, I guess -- at least he got that passed.
8:22: That little jab at congressional Republicans -- "I thought I'd get some applause there" -- I think was subtly quite effective. If Republicans won't applaud tax cuts, doesn't that show they just dislike anything Obama does?
8:21: Obama's starting out with straight out populism -- attacking the banks, bonuses, and the bailout. Anything that puts a wedge between Republicans' thrall to big businesses, and popular rage against the hyper-rich, is an effective strategy.
8:17: First applause comes six minutes in. That was a long intro. I'm bored already.
8:14: "The worst of the storm has passed, but the devastation remains" is good framing, I think; it balances between forward-looking optimism and recognition of current hurt.
8:11: Obama opens by telling us he's here only because the constitution tells him so. And history is looking over his shoulder.
8:10: Here we go! (I love the way Biden cheers).
8:05: I'll be curious how the spending freeze will be played in speech, particularly since Republicans have taken everything off the table.
8:00: You know what would be awesome? If Michael Buffer was hired as the sergeant-at-arms, just for tonight.
7:56: Will Obama announce that the best days of America are ahead? I'm banking on the upset: "The best days of America are behind us. I have formed a death panel to ensure that we handle our decline with grace and dignity."
7:53: Haitian ambassador is apparently getting a prime position in the audience.
7:49: Here's a shocking development (CNN calls it a "remarkable contrast"): Republicans think Obama has been too liberal, Obama doesn't think so. Whoa.
7:47: CNN reports Republicans are planning on being their best behavior. No more "you lies" this year ... assuming they can contain themselves.