11:02: One big oversight on my part and the president’s. NO mention of gun control in the speech. See the Brady Campaign’s response here.
10:29: That’s all folks. I think my live-blogging career might be over before it ever really began but thanks to all 13 of you who tuned in. Before I sign off, allow me a quick plug of my latest column on WikiLeaks. Click here to read it on Echoboomer. Goodnight!
10:19: Overall, a very subdued speech–clearly in part a reaction to the Tuscon tragedy and in part a result of the new bipartisan seating arrangement. Very few quotable lines to pick out. Obama’s reaffirmation of some core priorities was nice, but I felt the speech was frankly blah. The whole “win the future,” “rah, rah America” spiel failed to resonate. On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell criticizes Obama for a lack of specifics. Have to agree. Like most SOTUs, this one won’t be remembered beyond the next four hours of cable news coverage.
10:13: And that’s it. “The state of our union is strong,” Obama finally declares. Obama now making his way through the obligatory handshakes and hugs on the way out.
10:13: If I never hear the words “win the future” again I’ll be a happy man.
10:10: Psst…you’re not supposed to mention “Plan B” in a SOTU…Even if it does refer to the rescue mobile for the Chilean miners.
10:08: Biden and Boehner get a little chummy as Obama gives a shout-out to their respective hardscrabble upbringings. Boehner, inevitably, on verge of tears.
10:07: Another shot at China, it would seem: “In some countries, if they want want a railroad, they build a railroad no matter how many homes get bulldozed.” Go USA!
10:05: Obama hails repeal of DADT and then calls on colleges and universities to open doors to ROTC.
10:03: During this foreign policy segment of the speech, camera keeps panning to the foreign policy braintrust of Kerry and McCain who are sitting together. Meanwhile, Obama vows to stand by the people of the Tunisia in their struggle for freedom.
10:01: Great line from TPM’s John Marshall’s live blog: “For sake of clarity, I will from now on abbreviate ‘win the future’ as WTF.”
9:59: Best line of the night so far: “Muslims are part of our American family.”
9:57: And we’re into foreign policy. “America’s standing has been restored,” Obama proclaims and cites removal of combat troops from Iraq.
9:56: Obama vows to veto any bill with earmarks in it. Like we haven’t heard that one before.
9:54: Obama’s joke-telling skills earn laughs and applause with a crack about regulation of freshwater and saltwater fish. Oh, Washington humor.
9:51: Hooray! I spoke too soon. Obama says we can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. “It’s not about taking away their success. It’s about promoting America’s success,” he says.
9:50: I’m having a hard time getting inspired as Obama delves deeper into talk of spending cuts to deal with the deficit. He brings up the deficit commission’s recommendation for cuts in spending across the board. No mention of the $700 billion added to the deficit by the grand bargain with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.
9:48: Obama proposes freeze in federal non-discretionary funding for next five years and notes the burden this will place on federal employees.
9:47: Realized I was blogging in reverse. Rookie mistake. All better now. In the meantime, Obama delved into the healthcare debate, defending healthcare reform but calling for constructive fixes to the law.
9:41: Great title for the speech by Richard Kim at The Nation: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger President.”
9:39: First real moment of humor. Obama, calling for investment in high-speed rail, says that rail access will allow people to travel faster and cheaper, and “without the patdown.”
9:39: This speech is like a compare/contrast essay–USA and China.
9:36: Obama gives strong support to the DREAM Act, which would legalize the status of kids of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. Call for comprehensive immigration reform wins tepid applause from one-time immigration reform champion John McCain.
9:34: Boehner doesn’t like making tuition tax credits permanent. Only tax cuts for the wealthy.
9:32: Glad to see Obama giving some love to the teachers. A future one in Teach for America standing in my room right now. Philly kids, get ready for some Nando knowledge!
9:30: Obama hails Race to the Top, his educational initiative, as the most important educational initiative in a generation. He then goes on to call for replacing No Child Left Behind with a more flexible approach to education.
9:28: This bipartisan seating arrangement makes for some awkward shots of smiling Democrats and frowning Republicans.
9:26: Obama sticks it hard to oil companies, winning strong applause from Democrats. Boehner does not look amused.
9:24: And another: “This our nation’s Sputnik moment.” Proposes money for clean energy technology among other investments to be included in the budget.
9:23: And we have our first Sputnik reference…
9:20: “We need to outinnovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world.” Brings the room to its feet, although the applause is noticeably muted. This bipartisan seating is really killing the usual SOTU euphoria.
9:18: Obama hails economic progress in past year and then pivots to talking about “winning the future.” In case you haven’t been following the lead-up coverage, the theme of this speech is American competitiveness.
9:16: Biden looks on intently from behind Obama. Boehner looks bored.
9:14: Obama seems to be trying to recapture the magic of the 2004 DNC speech, invoking a theme of bipartisan unity from the get-go.
9:11: Guest comment from Ben Berg: “If our union was a state of matter, what would it be?” Anyone?
9:12: Obama begins by noting the empty chair in the gallery for Congresswomen Gabby Giffords, still recovering from her injuries from the Tucson shooting.
9:08: Word just in from Katie Couric that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is the designated cabinet member to not attend the speech, just in case…Obama reaches the podium and hands over copies of the speech to VP Biden and Speaker Boehner, whose orange glow is especially pronounced for the occasion.
9:06: Obama appears in the House chamber to a typically warm reception at a SOTU. Obama and ideological archnemesis Tom Coburn embrace as the president makes his way down the aisle to the podium.