Tag Archives: obama speech to congress

Live blogging the speech

We’re watching the NBC feed – where’s Tim Russert when you need him?

Note that Jim Bunning is paying particularly close attention to how well Justice Ginsburg navigates her entrance.

9:06  Hillary has made the slowest entrance for a cabinet member I’ve ever seen.  She needs her camera time…

9:10  Does Nancy look a bit happier standing next to Joe Biden?

One of the most impressive speeches I ever saw in this chamber occurred when Bill Clinton stood behind the podium only to see the wrong speech on the teleprompter. He never missed a beat….

Lots of talk by the NBC commentators about how Obama is up in the polls – historically, he’s not actually up that much.  If I get a chance, I’ll try to get the average gallup poll approval ratings. But in the last gallup poll I saw, it looked like Obama had lost about 10% since taking office.   This is expected, and historically about par for the course…..

Obama misses his mark, and steps on Nancy toes – he’s eager to start!

First applause line – (my over/under is six).  He’s taken Bill Clinton’s advice and a page out of the Reagan playbook – emphasize the American spirit.

Tough love – will this play in middle America?  I’m not sure he wants to go here…

The first partisan split!  Republicans aren’t applauding the American Recovery act…. (Nancy is giddy!)

THere’s John McCain (What?  Me? Skeptical?)

No one messes with Joe?!  Tell that to Jill…

Geez Louise – they’re even applauding the cut off credit in America.  this is an applause happy crowd.

HIllary is on the brink of dozing off – jet lag has hit!

Joe Lieberman is not all that excited about blaming banks for not spending money

Uh oh – here comes the totally bogus attack on CEO perks…easy applause line but a stupid issue. Playing the populist card.

obama’s speechmaking strength really isn’t in these types of intimate settings – he seems just a bit off his game here – stumbling over words, mistiming the applause lines.  He’s going for the soaring applause lines that dont’ work in congressional chambers.

I can’t believe he using building the railroads as a reminder of what government can do!

9:40 – this seems to be the theme of the speech – that government can be a catalyst to spur the private sector.

I think he just hit the over/under on standing O’s….

Lots of generic themes here that get applause but it’s not immediately obvious that he’s really addressing the real tradeoffs that must be made to, for example, make the automotive industry competitive.  HOw do you do that without rewarding their past mistakes?

Health care reform?  Sure it’s time – but what do you have in mind?  (SChip – red meat for the Dem’s). Electronic recordkeeping?  Seeking a cure for cancer?  Quality healthcare for all Americans?  Sure, tell us how to do it.  (Applause…)

Nancy is jumping to her feet before Joe realizes it’s time to applaud.

I’m beginning to wonder whether this speech is beginning to lose focus – he’s drifting far beyond the economy and laying out an ambitious agenda for his entire presidency.

Nice touch in remembering Ted Kennedy, but it does come across a bit like an early eulogy.

And now he’s become “Father-in-Chief” lecturing us on childrearing!

And now the Republicans finally get a chance to cheer – eliminating deficits (but “inherited”!).  Republicans aren’t buying any of this….

Nancy is becoming a distraction back there… . who is she pointing at?

In case there was any doubt, bipartisanship in Congress on budgetary issues is dead (if it ever was alive…)

Lots and lots of applause lines, but not much policy specific.  I’m really beginning to wonder what he’s trying to do with this speech..

did you see our Guvenator, Jim Douglas, take advantage of his camera time?  Very smartly done Governor!

Lots of balance here, as in “we’ll leave Iraq, but beat terrorists”.  He’s playing to both sides, at the risk of appearing not to have his own set of principles. That’s the difficulty of charting a center path….

And now the obligatory rhetorical upswing – hope!  inspiration! Ordinary Americans!

And here comes the human interest stories…Reagan pioneered these and few did it better than he did.

Still pushing the bipartisanship rock up the hill

Spirit – all my words are in, just under the wire!

I’m interested in how these speech is received. I think he was trying to set a tone here, rather than deal in specifics. At times, he seemed to be channeling FDR in trying to explain why and how the credit crunch was affecting them.  But there wasn’t very much of this, and it certainly was much longer and much more detailed than an FDR fireside chat.  If that was his intent, I’m not sure he really accomplished it.

He’s laid out a huge agenda, but without much in the way of specifics of achieving it.  He gave Americans  a bit of tongue lashing, but also tried to harp on the can-do American spirit.  It was a difficult path to walk.  Rhetorically, he made use of the “this won’t happen again” or “this stops now” device repeatedly.

Ok – let’s hear the Republican response from Bobby Jindal (and is anyone still listening?)

Is he already running for president?  I thought he was supposed to make the Republican case!

Ah!  Nice twist on Katrina! – don’t expect the federal government to bail you out!  Very nicely done…

Spirit! bingo!  This is right out of the Reagan playbook – government won’t save you..but will that fly in this economy?

This is a familiar refrain from Republicans, but I’m not sure it will play in this climate…

He’s laying down the REpublican markers:

No government-run health care

REnewable energy – and more drilling for oil

School choice – education through either public or private schools

Ethics reform…  (there’s a real irony here that a Louisiana governor is talking ethics!)

Interesting twist on the Katrina story…

It’s clear what the Republicans are going to do: reject the Bush years as a betrayal of Republican values, and return to the Reagan values of smaller government, markets and emphasizing the “American spirit”.   This is a risky gambit.  When Reagan ran on this, he could point big government as the culprit.  It’s not clear that message will work as well today. Will voters buy it? I’m not sure the situation is ripe for a reprise of Reaganism.

some final thoughts: Technically, this wasn’t Obama’s best speech – not even close. And his policy proposals lacked specifics. Having said that, he swung for the fences, laying out an ambitious policy agenda for his presidency.  I have to think that Americans are willing to see if he can achieve even half of what he has laid out here.  If he’s successful, I think there’s a real possibility that he could entrench Democratic control of the major political institutions for the next generation.  I don’t think the Republican response is going to attract much support.  The ball is in Obama’s court – Americans are willing to see what he can do.  I think Obama is smart to lay out an ambitious agenda in the hope that Democrats can capitalize on this crisis to remind Americans that government can play a positive role in their lives.   For that reason, despite the lack of execution, I think this speech is probably going to be a net plus for Obama….I’ll be on tomorrow to assess reactions, but for now, I think Obama helped his cause.

So , what do you think?