Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Live-blogging the Obama Speech

Ok, Obama's going to come on soon.

Let's see if I can make this fun as well as insightful.

CNN is showing some Republicans. I caught Susan Collins first. She was a year ahead of me at St. Lawrence in the frozen tundra of northern New York. She probably moved to Maine for the weather.

There's turncoat squared Judd Gregg-- betrayed the Republicans, then betrayed Obama to rejoin the Republicans.

Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are on. They look like Oscar presenters. Politics isn't "Hollywood for Ugly People" like Jay Leno says. It's more like Hollywood for "Not Unbelievably Pretty People."

There's nothing quite as boring as the pomp and circumstance for presidential speeches to Congress. The Sergeant at Arms introduces the diplomatic corps, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet. Eric Holder stayed behind. It's all a tremendous bore.

One interesting point is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg shook the hand of my tactless Senator Jim Bunning. Bunning's a mega-embarrassment.

But yeah! The nation really wants to see Rahm Emmanuel shake hands with the rest of the political class.

Whoa, Hilda Solis is tiny--Solid handshake though.

So what's Obama going to say? I think they've released the text of the speech but I didn't get a chance to read it.

But first, he's got to come in and show off his handshake.

Madame Speaker, The President of the United States!

Yep, there's President Obama enjoying a moment of s0lidarity with the political class--shaking hands, asking people how they're doing, hugging guys. He seems pretty at ease. Everybody wants to touch.

The speech is for us, but it's also important to understand that Obama is the political establishment's official representative to the nation.

Obama finally gets to the podium. The majesty of the moment is interrupted by an argument between my daughters. After losing Obama's opening lines in the hubbub, I had to help the family get back on track.

Obama starts off by reassuring the country--we've still got the mojo but we need to confront the crisis and be responsible.

Now, all the sins we've committed and challenges we haven't met--the focus on short-term gain, energy, health care, and debt.

Addresses jobs first-lauds stimulus package.

Teachers and police officers able to keep jobs because of stimulus package. If teachers and police lose jobs on a mass basis, we're really sunk.

My daughter says John McCain looks high. I think he's high on life.

Now Obama's talking about accountability in spending the stimulus money.

Onto the credit crisis.

Somebody's nodding off--that makes me feel better about people nodding off during my lectures as a college professor.

Speaking of college professors, Obama sounds like one now.

Creating new "lending fund" for consumer loans

Part II of Obama's speech to Congress
Now Obama is on to banking--sounds like a pretty comprehensive approach to the credit crunch.

Wants to hold banks accountable for increasing their lending--finally. Emphasizes the end of CEO abuses--Take that John Thain.

Pres. Obama holds up the prospect of a decade of economic sputtering if nothing is done.

He gets it on the unpopularity of banks, but emphasizes need to solve the problem, and govern "with a sense of responsibility."

"It's not about helping banks; it's about heloping people." Hey, Pat Leahy is happy about that line. I wonder what Bristol Palin is thinking.

Obama lays out the line to returning confidence and recovery.

Then Obama moves on to calling for regulatory overhaul and long-term investments on alternative energy, health care, oil, and public debt.

Obama's budget is going to be a vision. That's great but everybody in education is suspicious of "vision" these days. But Obama's not listening to me. He wants bold visions and big ideas.

Actually, I think the GI Bill was a good idea.

Obama wants to catalyze private enterprise through investments in energy, health care, and education.

Time for American to lead again on energy technology--Standing "O" for that one.
More power lines? Maybe they'll be "green power lines."

Nancy Pelosi stood very quickly at the end of that line.

Now for the big downer--the auto industry and health care.

Obama's committed to a re-tooled and re-invented automobile industry but he doesn't say how he's going to do that.

I sure as hell hope Obama can get health care reform. I'm okay with curing cancer, advancing technology, and preventive medicine.

But I want to hear about legislating universal health insurance.

Health care reform can not wait, must not wait, and will not wait another year.

This speech is pretty easy on the ears even though it's 45 minutes long.

Onto education.

Cradle to college diploma education? I like cradle to grave better.

Schools need more resources and more reform--investing in improved teacher performance, and charter schools.

This is interesting. He wants everybody to commit to one year of education beyond high school as a form of patriotism.

Obama wants the U. S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Gives a little tribute to Orrin Hatch, Teddy Kennedy, and responsible parenting. How many politicians actually put their children first . . . or second . . . or third.

As soon as Obama starts saving money, he talks about agribusiness and defense--the two big sources of waste in federal government spending.

Now Obama addresses taxes. He's going to let taxes increase on two of my younger brothers who earn more than $250,000. But my taxes are going down even though my family's income is over $100,000.

Sorry little brothers.

Ooh. Obama is going to put war on the budget. The Bush administration seemed to be committed to "maximum possible dishonesty." Change for the better isn't too difficult on this issue.

I can't remember Obama shouting out to any special guests. Pelosi did though.

I have to admit that Obama has more endurance as a speaker than I have as a blogger. I'll keep slogging though.

The military. There's expanded health care for veterans, closing Guantanamo Bay, and foregoing the temptation to torture. But will he admit that the Bush administration tortured?
Obama also wants a foreign policy that engages the world instead of giving everyone else the finger.

Ok. Obama is now shouting out to a Miami banker who distributed cash to employees and former employees of his bank--a guy who didn't feel right keeping his profits himself.

Not a popular guy among bankers right now though.

Now Obama's telling a story about a student from an extremely poor school in South Carolina who wrote to him for help. "We are not quitters," the student said.

That's great politics because it shows up South Carolina's "neo-nullification" governor Mark Sanford.

Nice speech.

Nothing really momentous though. Obama's just going to carry through on the vast majority of his campaign promises. That's what he needs to do.

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