U.S. President Barack Obama during his first State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington

State of the Union 2011 liveblog

Our continuously updated analysis of America's new Sputnik moment

Alex Pareene
January 26, 2011 6:01AM (UTC)

The state of the War Room is psyched for an investment in our future-winning Sputnik moment. The White House has a really cool website up where you can see who's in the first lady's box and the full text of the speech has already been posted. (Back in the dark, pre-internet days, only reporters would know what the President was going to say an hour before he said, and the rest of America didn't get to share in their cynical boredom with the whole enterprise.) We'll be updating this post until God Blesses America.

10:57 Ok I gave in. Hah, it is so much more insane here, where she's just sort of staring off to the left of the screen. Everyone: The CNN camera is different from the terrorist Internet Skype camera -- she's just refusing to look at the liberals watching CNN. This address was for the patriots! Anyway, I missed the details of everything she said, more or less, but the pictures were neat. What a fun night! Stay tuned for more coverage from all of us here in the WAR ROOM, tonight and tomorrow.


10:55 Here's Michele Bachmann coming to you live from this stuttering webcam, like a common terrorist, in front of a GIANT PICTURE OF THE CONSTITUTION. I guess I could turn on CNN to watch this but I'm taping something right now and really dislike turning the channel to CNN, ever. But god, the Tea Party website is just... not working. What are they even spending that secret money on, anyway!

10:35 Obama: America is awesome and will "win the future" thanks to the Internet and the fact that we rule so hard. Ryan: The other party wants you to believe that the government can do things but it can't. We are screwed. We're basically Greece. This entire broken nation is going down the shitter. Thank you and good night.

10:30 Good evening, I'm Paul Ryan, speaking to the camera in a dark, empty room, because I'm delivering a "The More You Know" PSA. Rep. Ryan had the benefit of getting a preview of the Obama's speech, but that doesn't help his essential midwestern blandness. (I am allowed to say that because I am from the midwest.) Also his eyes are kinda bloodshot, for some reason. It looks a bit like we just caught him smoking up in what he thought was an empty classroom.


Anyway, guy hates Obamacare. Taxes! Fees! "Winners and losers!" Why the hell don't they just let the real pros do this? I would watch Mike Huckabee's response. Maybe he'd play the bass! This guy just spit out the phrase "safety net" like he was alarmed to see it on his teleprompter.

10:15 Ok, turns out the state of the union is "strong." Couldn't he have mentioned that at the beginning of the speech, saved us all some time?

10:10 Veterans get a standing ovation that lasts even longer than the standing O for "working together." Hey, maybe by the time they're done clapping, out "combat troops" will have begun to leave Afghanistan! Wait, now we're going "enlist our veterans in the great task of building our own nation"? Haven't they suffered enough, this nation is broken as hell. (Ok, pointing out that some soldiers are gay was nice.) "We will argue about everything Obama promises. So much for civility, Obama is just going to argue with everyone.


"And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth." I dunno, I'd trade places with, like, the Bahamas right now. It's cold in New York. The highlight of the entire night for me so far was the applause for the news that Joe Biden is from Scranton.

10:00 Apparently we can't afford tax cuts for billionaires? Huh. Then why did we extend them, again? Oh god he's doing Reagan. The government is so big and complicated, I have a folksy anecdote about fish that illustrates the absurdity of the entire enterprise of managing a massive, wealthy, post-industrial nation. (Obama is also bad at delivering "jokes," his apparently developed sense of irony nothwithstanding.) Oh, now we're done with "wasteful government spending" and on to our on-going fight against al Qaeda abroad. We're going to kill all the terrorists. All of them! Also we're going to leave Afghanistan. Or begin to leave. Begin to start to leave.


9:50 "The final step to winning the future is going back in time and destroying SkyNet before it becomes sentient." No, sorry, apparently the final step is DEFICIT DEFICIT DEFICIT etc. etc. etc. (Also, shit, this is the final step? Bipartisan seating makes this go so fast!) No applause for Eisenhower. Or for "painful cuts."

9:47 A bipartisan smattering of boos and applause for healthcare, of course. Obama is kind enough not to mention that Democrats already tried to fix that stupid 1099 thing and the GOP filibustered it. Anyway Obama tricks Republicans by introducing a guy with brain cancer who was saved by his Obamacare.

945 In the "high-speed trains" bit (sigh) there is big, odd applause for the "without the patdown" line -- in a room full of people who are never patted down at the airport, because they are members of Congress. Hah, also, we're lowering the corporate tax rate, because that's a priority. There's also some stuff about the Internet and firefighters downloading maps onto their iPads or something, which sounds cool until you try it in Manhattan with AT&T, am I right?


9:40 Obama is talking about schools, and children. WILL JOHN BOEHNER CRY? Oh, standing ovation for teachers. But we definitely do hate those bad teachers. (Bad teachers are the ones who belong to unions.)

If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they’re born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Haha and none of them will have jobs. America will have more 30-year-old philosophy majors living with their parents in some sad exurban Phoenix shack than anywhere else in the world! Eat it, Sweden!

Oh also apparently we should stop deporting children who do well in American schools but aren't citizens. Did anyone propose any legislation that dealt with with?


9:30 Internet again. Scattered applause for "Facebook," for some reason. Now the Sputnik bit. "Clean energy technology" got applause, too -- I think he's accidentally reading one of Nixon's SOTUs? Anyway, we're "winning the future," which is why Obama's budget will include billions to clone Mike Allen. Soon every American will know when John Thune's spokesperson's birthday is. We will win the future also by making sure the winner of the science fair is celebrated as much as the winner of the Super Bowl. So screw you, Aaron Rodgers!

9:20 Obama moving on to the "Springsteen" portion of the speech, talking about shuttered factories, empty steel mills, the amusement park shutting down, men walking through these gates with death in their eyes, etc. Apparently this can be solved with the Internet. "No workers are more productive than ours," he said, though a couple countries have workers who get compensated for their productivity a little more fairly. (Obama didn't say that bit.) Also our students might not be so great at "equations" but they're really good at asking Larry King-style questions, like "What do you think of that idea?" and "What would you change about the world?"

9:15 It would've been so great if he'd slipped up and said "Madam Speaker." Obama begins by noting the empty chair of Gabrielle Giffords, and Boehner sorrrta looks teary-eyed. "Working together" gets a standing O, because these people are children.

9:06 Here we go. ABC's packaging was annoying so I've switched to Fox, where the dulcet, Parliament-coated tones of Shep Smith are soothing my jangled nerves. Now Chris Wallace seems to be complaining that "a website" published the speech before it happened. He blames a congressional staffer. Boo, congressional staffer! Except he doesn't mention that the the website belongs to an actual, physical magazine. (And one that Major Garrett went to work for.) So booo, magazines, Chris. And here's the President. He is so happy to see everyone. He said something to Tom Coburn about shaving his beard. He's even happy to see John Roberts! And Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets a hug!


8:30: Ken Salazar is our "designated survivor," so once Dan Burton's "24"-inspired doomsday scenario goes down, the Interior secretary will be our benign dictator. As for the speech itself? Do you have spending freeze fever? Because we're going to cut the deficit by $400 billion with a five-year freeze on some domestic spending, apparently. There is also some talk about Tunisia. I am just skimming, honestly, so that I can enjoy the boilerplate renewable energy section when it happens live.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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