(All times Eastern, ‘less I get drunk and forget to add 2.)
8:46pm You’d think it was a Reagan press conference with all the bright red dresses out there in the Chamber.
8:54pm Maybe you also think that Congress looks like a kindergarten classroom right before teacher has to pound on her desk. I’d would have made the joke using a gym teacher reference instead, but some people might have taken that the wrong way. What, with a female Speaker and all.
8:54.5pm That first martini went down easy. Gotta run upstairs for a sec.
8:59pm Second French Inhale martini has been shaken and poured. And that’s about as good as it’s going to get on a SOTU night.
9:07pm There’s more milling in there than in a 17th Century Dutch grain compound. I thought Bush was the on-time President. Maybe losing Congress really did make him into Clinton II.
9:10pm Bush doesn’t seem to enjoy the stature he once did. Maybe that’s because of the lost elections, or maybe because I’m watching on my web browser in this tiny little C-SPAN window. Only history can tell.
9:11pm Please consider that 9:10pm gag rescinded. Right now Bush makes Robert Reich look like Lloyd Benson, only more warmed over.
9:13pm The cheers outweigh the jeers as Bush is introduced and takes the podium. Classier than I expected.
9:14 “…Madame Speaker!” Bush has kept his class, too. Maybe tonight won’t be so bad, after all. Maybe I made that second martini extra large.
9:17pm “I congratulate the Democratic majority.” Before you say “Suck up,” remember that Bush followed that with a call for each Congressman to follow his conscience. In other words, “Hello, Blue Dogs!”
9:19 So Bush makes all us small-town Republicans and small-l libertarians quiver when he calls so more private stuff and less government and no tax raising. But let’s see what else he has to say, and if everything meshes.
9:20 Was there ever a budget submission that didn’t promise black ink within five years?
9:20 Go Porkbusters!!!
9:21 Even Congress applauded Bush’s promise to halve earmarks by the end of the session. Yeah, let’s see where that goes, Mr. Reid.
9:22 Is Bush still talking NCLB, six (?) years after getting it passed? Followed by “we must increase funds…” See the 9:19pm comment above.
9:24 “…affordable and available health care.” And your little balanced budget, too!
9:25 Bush is talking about a new program for health insurance, and all I can think about is that balanced budget promise, and how “five years” is modern code for “jam tomorrow.” I’m also thinking of my icy, icy French Inhale martini.
9:26 “We need to expand Health Savings Accounts.” Uh – I thought people held those.
9:27 Legal question: Would “medical liability reform” pass Constitutional muster? I might sound naive calling that a state issue, but… damn, I do sound naive.
9:29 Bush has cleverly tied immigration reform to anti-terror measures. So cleverly, that I’m sure somewhere Dick Morris is cackling at Bush’s attempt at triangulation. And that everywhere, not one single person is happy with Bush’s proposal.
9:31 “Foreign oil,” blah blah blah, “technology,” blah blah blah. Problem is, except for his mention of nuclear energy, not one item Bush mentioned will help outside the margins. And I’m sure the Democratic Congress will get right on approving those new nuke plants.
9:32 “Let’s reduce gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next ten years.” Or did he say 20? Or five? It doesn’t matter. Even with increased CAFE standards, demand is going to go up for gas. We’ll be lucky just to stay even. Very lucky.
9:34 Ballsy move, calling to increase the National Petroleum Reserve. Gas prices are still a bit high, and a bigger NPR can only drive them higher.
9:35 More judges salaries to pay! Balanced budget! Hey, here’s an idea – start repealing laws, then you won’t need so many judges.
9:36 “To win the war on terror, we must take the fight to the enemy.” “Enemy,” is, after more than five years, still an undefined term.
9:38 Let’s take a moment to sip on a lovely cocktail, and enjoy the warm bath of Bush’s tough terror talk. And try to forget most everything else he’s said tonight, and most all of what he’ll say next. In the meantime… mmm, tough terror talk.
9:41 “For the sake of our own security, we must [endure].” Followed by a list of accomplishments, not by us, but by “them,” over there, in the Middle East. It’s pretty stirring stuff, and it makes me think that right now, Bush is at least one apple taller than Robert Reich.
9:44 Christopher Ross comments, “I know its simplistic and lacks nuance but I’m mostly concerned with the tough on terror aspect. I’ll give them 2 years of a Democratic president as long as he’s a tough one.” Seems likely, no?
9:46 All this “surge” talk strikes me as unnecessary and probably unwise. I don’t remember any stories about FDR talking up D-Day before the fact, and trying to weasel support out of Congress for it.
9:50 “In the end, I have chosen this course of action because it promises the best chance of success.” Actually, it promises only to help things in a very long war. Then again, Bush did just explicitly mention Iran as complicit in the campaign in Iraq. And that, my friends, is the only part of tonight’s SOTU worth remembering. Provided, of course, there’s some follow-through. Any wagers?
9:52 “Tonight I ask Congress to authorize an increase in our Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years.” ‘Bout damn time! Of course, I don’t know if we can do it that quickly, but I’m sure Jim Dunnigan (Strategypage.com) will have the answer shortly.
9:54 The *real* anti-terror talk is over, provided there was any. I mean, Bush is now talking about a free and democratic Palestine and a nuke-free North Korea. You, dear reader, may now resume not listening.
9:59 The Amazing American Immigrant Story always gets me, every time. Sure, it’s filler. But every time Bush uses filler, he isn’t proposing some huge new program nobody wants and that Congress won’t pass. Besides, who doesn’t want their President to stir them now and then?
8:01 Wesley Autrey got more honest applause than the President will tonight – and maybe more than most Presidents ever get. That’s high praise for America, if you ask me. And now we’ve arrived at that time in the evening when the vodka has made me maudlin.
8:04 “Tonight that cause goes on. God bless.” Bush ended on a defiant note, happily sounded. Rang nicely in my ears. I’ll have final thoughts in just a few minutes.
One last thing. I come into these speeches with no pre-written material. What you get is… well, whatever it is that I’ve got. Hope you enjoyed, and please keep coming back for our regularly-scheduled blogging.