The State of the Union

I haven’t posted on The Pickle in a while.  Whenever I have a long drought, I like to offer explanation (or excuse) – internships, law school and snow, snow, snow.  Yet, I felt like the State of the Union address tonight was a great reason to try to post.  I have always enjoyed the SOTU even when required to watch it and take notes as a political science major in college.  Now, it just seems like part of being an adult, a lawyer and a future public servant.

In order to cover the State of the Union and have a little fun along the way, I’ve decided to try to channel my inner Bill Simmons and provide a running diary of President Obama’s speech.  I am not nearly as talented as Bill Simmons though, I’d love to one day be considered the Bill Simmons of politics; however, after this homage to Bill Simmons, it may become clear that I shouldn’t try to be funny ever again.

So, let’s give this a try…

9:00 PM – Sitting down with Starbucks ice cream, a cocktail, a fire in the fireplace and trying to decide on what channel to watch the State of the Union. Old school = NBC proper or preferred = CNN. No particular reason that I prefer CNN, but since the emergence of Fox News and MSNBC as ideological opposites, I’ve settled on CNN.

9:03 PM – First glimpse of the Supremes.  Is Alito going to be here this year?  I didn’t see him in the quick clip of Breyer, Kennedy, Roberts and Ginsberg.

9:05 PM – The announcement. And goosebumps. “Mr Speaker, The President of the United States.”

9:08 PM – Obama hugs Hillary.  The microphone is so close you can actually hear everything this year.  Nothing major is said, just kinda interesting.

9:09 PM – The rest of the Supremes.  Lots of personal comments for Breyer.  Still no glimpse of Alito.

9:09 PM – Wolf Blitzer is surprised by Obama’s tie and his panel mocks him.  They must be feeling good if they’re mocking Wolf.  Perhaps they have Starbucks ice cream and cocktails too.

9:10 PM – I wonder how the seating-buddy system will work.  My friend, Sarah, sent me an article about Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) sitting with Sen. John Thune (R-SD).  Is she the only one who choose to do this?

9:11 PM – Congrats to the 112th Congress and Boehner.  That’s kinda interesting.  Biden is smiling.

9:12 PM – First mention of Rep. Gabby Giffords.  A necessary and solemn moment.

9:13 PM – “We are part of the American family.”  I love it, but is it true? Do we feel that way?  I do, but I get the impression that it’s not a certainty the way it used to be.  I think our President went a bit deeper than the Chamber around him was expecting.  I like it.

9:14 PM – I wish I didn’t have to see Sen. Al Franken just there, but perhaps the TV producers thought they should show someone who’s not so into the whole “working together” thing.

9:16 PM – President Obama at his best.  Tying together our values and our politics with a vision of America.  He transitions nicely into specific successes, as he sees them.

9:18 PM – “The rules have changed.”  Yes.  Let’s embrace the technology, the new shifts of a global economy.  America is juxtaposed to India and China.  A major fear of Americans – that we’ll be overtaken in education and growth – should be addressed head-on.

9:21 PM – Innovation, competition and global leadership get two rousing ovations.  I think Obama is the only one in the room with an idea on how to get this done.  Imagination and creativity.

9:22 PM – Did he just say Facebook? Oh man.  Zuckerberg really is the Man of the Year.

9:25 PM – Let’s reinvent more than just our energy policy.  I get it.  We need to address new industry, new technologies and our energy crisis.  But this is the type of innovation that America could be encouraging on every level.

9:27 PM – Ah, a joke at oil companies’ expense.  Boehner is unimpressed.  Taking away money from oil companies? Not really his thing.

9:27 PM – Did he just say 80% of energy consumption will be clean energy?  Is this like Kennedy daring us to be first into space?  The applause seems apprehensive.

9:28 PM – Innovation and success is tied to education.  Transition to new policy area complete, on to education.  My wife, Meredith’s, ears perk up (she’s a teacher and college counselor).

Did he just take a shot at the Super Bowl? Uh-oh.  My wife’s response: “Maybe if they televised science fairs, that’s how it would work.”  That would be awesome.  Discovery Channel – we’re looking at you.  I mean, you’re the Discovery Channel.  It’s a brainer.  (Let’s be honest, you can’t call televising a science fair a “no-brainer” – that just doesn’t make sense.)

9:31 PM – One thing that both Obama Democrats and Republicans can agree on is localized leadership and control for educators and education policy.

9:34 PM – A classic SOTU moment.  President Obama mentions Kathy from NC and she proudly tells those around her that he’s talking about her.  That was great.

As far as college graduates are concerned, I think I’m missing something here.  I get it.  We need more graduates in math, science and engineering; however, we don’t need more graduates.  We don’t have enough jobs as it is.

9:37 PM – Looks like President Obama is not shying away from the tough issues – immigration policy is on the table.

9:39 PM – I was shocked by Obama’s high-speed rail plan.  It sounds great and I would love to move up and down the East Coast without driving on 95 or paying too much to Amtrak.  Seems ambitious, but I guess that’s what this speech is all about.

9:39 PM – There aren’t going to be TSA workers at the high-speed rail terminals? Meredith correctly pointed out that there may still be pat-downs, but it was still a good joke.

9:42 PM – Everyone is standing and clapping on cutting corporate taxes and maintaining deficit reduction, except of course the Supreme Court.  It must be nice to attend this speech without fear of having to know when to clap, how loudly and for how long.  Biden is jealous.

9:43 PM – Suspicious clapping in the chamber.  President Obama is reviewing government regulations to try to make things easier for business but also protect consumers.   Consumer protection is the cornerstone of government activity.

9:44 PM – Here’s what we’ve been waiting for….healthcare reform!  Jeering begins at the first mention.  Phew, a joke to break the ice – and yet, President Obama smartly uses this moment to once again defend the bill and extol its benefits.   Whatever you think of the bill, at least he got his point across – move forward!

9:47 PM – I’m not sure if he’s beginning to wind down the speech or not, but it sounds like his “I’m about to say the most important thing” voice.  Deficits.  Why can’t the government stay within its means?

9:48 PM – Freeze spending? Michelle Bachman’s face is frozen, apparently; however, isn’t this what Republicans should support? I understand that he mentioned Defense cuts right off the bat, not an olive branch to the GOP.  But I couldn’t agree more with his overall point.  There is waste and we need to address it.  Even if it’s only 12% of the budget, it can be done.

9:50 PM – If Republicans were concerned about Defense spending, Democrats can now join them because Medicare and Medicaid were mentioned.  And…is that tort reform I hear?  Even as a 2L, I couldn’t agree more.  Frivolous lawsuits can be sensibly constrained by the legislature.

9:52 PM – Really interesting dynamic – taking millionaires on directly.  Let’s make them pay! 2% increase that is necessary for America’s success.

Meredith – “Reluctant clapping by the millionaires.”

9:53 PM – Quickly throwing a log on the fire.

9:53 PM – Back.

9:54 PM – Salmon? Now Biden is just hungry.    What’s the headline tomorrow?  Smoked salmon.  My favorite moment so far.  First because it was genuinely funny.  Second because even those of us that believe in government recognize that government’s size and inefficiency are a problem.

9:55 PM – One of the reasons that I felt the need to write my thoughts on The Pickle was to restore faith in government.  To view government as a possible solution and partner and not an enemy or “parental party pooper.”  So, I’m happy to hear Obama talking about faith in government.  I know that probably sounds like liberal rhetoric to small government conservatives, but the truth is that government is a major part of our lives, business and society.  We might as well use it as a tool for America’s progress.

9:58 PM – Obama shifts to foreign policy.  I don’t think my commentary or jokes are needed here.   I find myself much more ready and willing to talk about domestic policy and politics.  I, like everyone, always appreciate a heartfelt thanks to the troops.  I wonder if he’ll mention the bombing in Moscow or the unrest in Tunisia?

10:04 PM – Tunisia. Democracy. Troops.  There’s no need to say more.  Our Armed Forces get a much-deserved standing ovation.  Thank you for all you do.

10:06 PM – “No one will be forbidden to serve the country they love because of who they love.”  Well said.

10:07 PM – I think it’s an important moment for Obama to recognize that the arguments and disagreements are part of what makes America great.

“This is a place where you can make it if you try.”

“This is a country where anything is possible.”

Shout outs to Scranton, PA, Cincinnati, OH, and oh yeah, to the greatest nation on Earth.

10:11 PM – “We do big things.”  I love it.  Meredith – “I like this phrase, ‘Win the Future’.”  I think, without realizing it, she may have summed up the theme of the speech and the next 2 years.

10:12 PM – “The State of our Union is strong.” I usually wait for that phrase at the beginning every year, but President Obama switched it up on me.   He ended with it.

10:14 PM – It took 90 seconds for someone on CNN to say: “It wasn’t a very exciting speech but it was a politically calculated speech.”  Really? I thought it was a politically strong speech, certainly, but it was purposefully encouraging and ambitious.  I like that.  I’m in.

Well, I hope I didn’t totally waste your time.  I thought it was worth a try and if you didn’t like it, please don’t hold it against Bill Simmons because he’s so much better at it than I am.  And I’ll get back to posting sooner rather than later.  Thanks!


One response to “The State of the Union

  1. Schalene Dagutis

    I thought the quote of the night was: “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.” It creates the sense of urgency you need to close the deal. He also did a neat little Clintonesque triangulation on health care — allowing “tweaks” to health care reform but not repeal. That means the Republicans will have to do more than say “repeal and replace;” they’ll have to articulate specifics. Some good news for state governments ravaged by the recession and looking at 2 to 3 more years before they’re tax bases recover, but I’m sure they wanted more than Obama proposes. But they’ll be lucky to get the increased investments in education and infrastructure as the Republicans will likely fight how he intends to pay for those investments. And so it continues…

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