7:51. Getting ready for President Obama’s last State of the Union. This should be a good one, even if it doesn’t have the mic-dropping moment of last year’s, which, in retrospect, was a signal that this wasn’t going to be a lameduck session.
Pictured: mic drop
Updates to follow in this space! Probably!
7:55. You know what would be neat? If Obama won the Powerball tomorrow.
7:56. This is from earlier, but there is no better way to draw a distinction between the GOP and the Dems than this passage.
As is the tradition, the two parties are inviting guests to highlight political points, with Michelle Obama, the first lady, leaving an empty seat in her box in recognition of victims of gun violence, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan inviting two members of an order of Roman Catholic nuns challenging the Affordable Care Act.
The thousands of gun violence, deaths a year vs the right to deny nurses condoms. Also: Kim Davis.
8:00. If you’re DHS head Jeh Johnson, there’s a part of you that’s preparing your emergency inauguration speech, right? In the mirror? And then if someone asks you what you’re doing you pause for a good 30 seconds, wondering if you should say anything, before just blinking slowly and walking away, right?
8:04. Hey, Matthews brought up his boss Tip O’Neil! Who saw that coming?
8:05. I’m looking forward to seeing Paul Ryan’s serious face. Boehner was great because you could see him thinking “that was pretty good” when Obama got a zinger in, since he was just a pure pol. Ryan is righteous enough to be offended.
8:10. He seems loose. I think we’re going to have fun.
8:12. Paul Ryan is clearly trying to work out the faces he’s been practicing to seem not too partisan, but certainly not very partisan. Honestly, he’s doing very well.
8:14 Obama is setting up the laundry list the way he does best: tying solid progressive policies into America’s historic fabric, in a way that you can call “uncertain teleology.” We can looking back in a future perfect way, or we can blow it. It’s a way to tie the future into the past, and is an interesting and I think unusual way to present policy ideas.
8:15. “Extending America’s promise outward to the new frontier.” Sort of a moral Turnerism.
8:16. That spirit is how we recovered from the worst economic crisis. Ryan today said that Obama shouldn’t get any credit, instead crediting the Fed, which I think shows the dissonance of the modern right.
8:17. I love this- here are our accomplishments, and they aren’t this kind of liberal whitewashing, but part and parcel of our moral progress. He delineates the difference between fear and confidence, which is subtly partisan, given the tenor of the GOP campaign.
8:22 Four important questions.
- How do we give everyone a shot at security in new economy (GOP doesn’t like that)
- How do we use technology for us- especially in global climate change?
- How do we solve security problems without being world’s policeman?
- How do we fix our politics without bringing out the worst?
This is good- bringing up how good the economy is in the face of apocalyptic bullshit. There are a lot of flaws, but this is a slap of common sense. Nice pivot, though, toward saying that we need to increase worker’s abilities to learn. Now if he ties in how the decline of worker’s protection is what has led to this unbearable insecurity it will be the greatest SOTU ever.
8:24. Paul Ryan not happy about “great teachers” line, seeing as how all problems in his home state came from evil rapacious teachers and their thuggish ruler-wielding unions.
8:26. I like this line about ACA- talking about how it fits into the new economy, which is the argument we should have been making the whole time. How it makes it more possible to start a business. It’s not just about cost or deficits. Why can’t we say it’s a health-based disruptor? That’s cool, right?
8:28. “Expanding tax cuts for low-income workers with no children” got a standing ovation in the O’Neill household.
8:30. Food stamp recipients didn’t cause financial crisis. Immigrants are controlling wages. People at home aren’t putting assets in offshore accounts. This is the heart of the liberal economic message. That’s Lizzie Warren as a preacher. This is why I’m going to miss him so much.
8:34. He just brought up cancer, which reminds me: RIP Andrew Smith. You fought bravely, and courageously. You made all Butler alums proud, and gave everyone facing death a role model for humor and strength.
8:36. I like that we’ve reached the tipping point where we don’t even try to argue with climate change denying demagogues. It’s just mockery, followed by the undeniable benefits of fighting it.
8:39. Slight revolt when he mentions that it is hot air that we are getting weaker. It’s a little disingenuous to cut off that argument by talking about how awesome our troops are. It’s a bit of chest-thumping, but it is good. I mean, the talking points on the other side are going to say this shows how out of touch with reality he is, but the absurdity of Iowa bandstands are hard to compare to the pageantry of the SOTU.
8:42. The post-WWII system is collapsing. That’s very true. I wonder if any President- hell, any politician- can recognize that the post-WWI borders are crumbling, particularly in the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of Africa. As well they maybe should, but I don’t know if our system, or any system, is supple enough to handle that. This very specific form of modernity isn’t working everywhere, and the world might work a little better if we recognized that.
8:48. I love that “let’s not get in a quagmire” divides the room.
8:51. TPP gets the weakest standing O of the night. I am of mixed minds with it. It is probably the best and most progressive trade agreement we can get, but that probably isn’t quite good enough.
8:52. Ebola, Cuba, ending civil wars- this is a different version of American leadership than we hear on the trail. For all the terrorism talk of the SOTU, it is a starkly different vision. I have to think that a lot of people, in a vacuum, would agree that our FP can’t be dominated entirely by violence. He’s setting it up for the future, because he knows he can’t get people who already hate him to listen.
8:56. The President is a politician, so as much as I am sure he loathes Trump, he sees him more analytically. The First Lady, though, I’d like to think despises him. You could tell by the ferocity of her applause when he was talking about how his rhetoric isn’t telling it like it is, but just wrong.
8:59. Obama mentions that democracy doesn’t work when people think it is in the hands of special interests, but the truth is, many on the right think that special interests means “women” or “blacks” or “workers” or “the sick” or “anyone”.
9:01. OK, well, “more people should vote” being a room-divider is maybe more disgusting than “let’s not get stuck in desert quagmires” being one.
9:02. This is it here. The government is “of the people and by the people”. It is a reflection of us. It is the result of what we do every election, and every day, online and in our personal interactions and when we don’t stand up for our rights. It isn’t alien. It’s our government. He’s talking now about how the government is determined by us, and he’s right. Even if the game is rigged, it’s because we’ve slid into it. There are a lot of people fighting against it (I don’t include myself in that, so this is self-criticism). But he is calling on all us to be citizens. It’s stirring.
9:05. This is part of the liberal message, and it is why this seems like a partisan speech. It is, as we said above, not just weaving the progressive message into our history, but saying our history has to be one of progress.
9:10. And that’s it. The final State of the Union from the finest President, and maybe the finest politician of my lifetime. He gave a stirring defense of what patriotism really is. Of everything I wrote tonight, I think my wife Allison had the best and most true line: “I’m going to miss him.” Me too, love. Me too.