Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Live-blogging President Obama's 2010 State of the Union speech

Here are some other people who'll be live-blogging:

Jon Cohn (of The New Republic, on Twitter)

Chris Cillizza (of the Washington Post, on Twitter)

Ann Althouse

Talking Points Memo

9:08 - As Obama is walking through the crowd, an MSNBC announcer tells us that "we don't expect a repeat" from a year ago, when Representative Joe Wilson shouted out, "You lie!" Well, that doesn't mean anything -- we didn't expect it a year ago either.

9:11 - Obama, as usual, draws a sweeping historical parallel to the present day: we've often been uncertain in the past, but we prevailed because we came together as a nation. This seems besides the point, at least when it comes to health-care reform, since we know the country isn't going to "come together"; at best, a bill might pass by the smallest possible margin.

9:14 - People are distracted by Biden's and Pelosi's matching purples.

9:17 - "If there's anything that has united America ... it's that we all hated the bank bailout."

9:23 - An unfortunate slip of the tongue: "Slowly slum are starting to hire again." He used the good strategy of continuing as if he hadn't made a mistake.

9:29 - My mom pithily sums up the fallacy of so many politicians' rhetoric on businesses:
Small businesses are good. ... Big business sucks though. We want to help small business grow... so it can become big business and then we can hate it.
9:31 - "Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy. ... India's not waiting." He flashed some uncharacteristically brusque anger here.

9:43 - "By now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics."

9:47 - On health care, Obama concedes: "The longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people." (I should mention that my quotes here may be imprecise since I'm transcribing on the fly. I know that the prepared text has been released, but I have more trust in my own ears.)

9:49 - Obama appropriately puts most of the blame on Bush (without naming him) for the country's slide from a surplus to a deficit over the past decade.

9:54 - There's some awkward cackling from the audience when Obama says his spending freeze won't take effect until next year because the economy will be better then. He sternly responds: "That's how budgeting works."

9:58 - Obama proposes that all members of Congress post their requests for earmarks online. Isn't this counterproductive? Politicians want their constituents to know they're trying to get special benefits for their districts.

10:16 - He bluntly admits there's a disconnect between the "Change We Can Believe In" slogan and his actual administration. His explanation, on the face of it, is fairly banal and predictable: "democracy can be noisy," etc. But I find this part of the speech surprisingly poignant, and it seems that some members of the audience do too. The prolonged absence of applause is striking.

10:19 - Obama's equivalent of Bill Clinton's building a bridge to the 21st century: "A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit."

UPDATE: Jonathan Chait, who's generally a strong supporter of Obama, was unimpressed by the substance of the speech:
Obama suggested that we should embrace alternative energy sources even if you doubt climate science. (I’m pretty sure that, if carbon dioxide were harmless, we’d be better off sticking with the cheap energy.) He embraced some hoary populist tropes, in which “Washington” and “us” are homogenous, mutually exclusive categories, and he belongs to the second. (“Washington has been telling us to wait for decades.”) And his rationale for a budget freeze made no sense whatsoever. “I am absolutely convinced that [the stimulus] was the right thing to do,” he said, “But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.” Um, why?


Jason (the commenter) said...

You should have Tweeted you were doing this!

John Althouse Cohen said...

Oh yeah. But I don't really like Twitter.

Jason (the commenter) said...

No Facebook until you finish your Twitter and don't try hiding it under your mashed potatoes.