Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Obama's 2016 State of the Union - Highlights & Lowlights

Here are the highlights from President Barack Obama's final State of the Union, along with an assortment of thoughts, impressions, and cheap wisecracks inspired by the speech.   [All times Pacific and approximate.]

6:14 PM

Obama: "But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead.  Don't worry, I've got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients.  And I'll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing.  Fixing a broken immigration system.  Protecting our kids from gun violence. ..."

Hmmm ... Is there going to be even a single point in this Presidential litany of progress that Speaker Paul Ryan can applaud for?

Obama: "... Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage.  All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done."

Nope.  Not a one.

6:17 PM

Obama: "... In fact, it's in that spirit that we have made progress these past seven years.  That's how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations.  {Applause}"

Maybe Ryan can find an applause line this time around??  He's not moved by talk of recovery, though.

"That's how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector.  {Applause}  That's how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops coming home and our veterans. {Applause} That's how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love. {Applause}"

Again, nope, not so much.  Not even for the troops and veterans.  Surprising.  I thought he got a bye on ALL references to troops and veterans.  That Freedom Caucus is even more hardcore than I gave 'em credit for.

6:19 PM

Marco Rubio just looked terrified that he might be caught on camera applauding for *anything* President Obama has said.

Obama: "First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?"  

That seems like a rare opportunity for bipartisan enthusiasm - something *both* sides should enthusiastically support!  Or maybe not ...

feelings towards math studies and IB government midterms tomorrow #SOTU

Rubio looked uncomfortable and started shifting around in his seat for several seconds.   [See for yourself - minutes 7:49-8:01 here.]

6:26 PM


Obama: "We need to strengthen Social Security!" {Standing ovation erupts}

Speaker Ryan neither stood nor ovated.  C'mon ... even back in the 90s, Newt frigging Gingrich would've applauded THAT line!

6:30 PM 

Obama: "I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed. There is red tape that needs to be cut."

AHA!  Finally, most of the GOP members actually woke up!

6:32 PM

LOVED the First Lady's expression just now as she stood to applaud this line: "Food Stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did."

She had a "Damn right, frigging Paul Ryan and the rest of you poor-folk-bashing knuckleheads!" look on her face that I totally vibed with.

via GIPHY / thanks for finding this, Abby Honeycutt!

6:39 PM

Obama: "This year I plan to lift up the many businesses who figured out that doing right by their workers, or their customers, or their communities, ends up being good for their shareholders. And I want to spread those best practices across America. That's part of a brighter future."

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, for one, does not look convinced.

6:40 PM

Obama: "Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You'll be pretty lonely, because you'll be debating our military, most of America's business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it's a problem and intend to solve it."

AAAAND the Paul Ryan poker face slips:

6:42 PM

Obama: "The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth.  Period.  It's not even close."

Audience: [Standing ovation]

Speaker Paul Ryan: [No reaction]

... Now you can't even celebrate our decisive global political & military hegemony???  WTF, Republicans?  Who ARE you anymore?!?

6:43 PM

Obama: "Our troops are the finest fighting force, in the history of the world."

Hey, Speaker Ryan is *actually* applauding!  And now he's joining in the standing ovation!  Well, I'll be!  Guess he was allowed to ditch the permanent neutral-face edict for just one fob to the troops after all.

6:45 PM

Obama: "And we sure don't need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is somehow representative of one of the world's largest religions."

> Speaker Ryan pensively frowns and nods approvingly as the applause begins, then confers approvingly with VP Biden.

6:46 PM

Oh no he di-in't ...

Obama: "If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote."

Dammit, Obama, gotta go and get factually accurate again ...

6:54 PM

House Benghazi Special Committee Chair Trey Gowdy looks positively bored by the idea of "reject[ing] any politics that targets people because of race or religion," as he chaws on his gum.

"The world respects us not just for our arsenal, it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.  His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I'm standing on tonight that 'to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.' 

When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad, or fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn't make us safer.  That's not telling it what -- telling it like it is.  It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world." {Applause}

> Much of the audience rises in applause.  The First Lady concurs.  And with a very slight smile and a nod of the head, so does Speaker Ryan.

7:00 PM

Obama: "But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens.  It doesn't work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. It doesn't work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic, or are trying to weaken America."

At which point Fox News cuts to Kim Davis:

"Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us.  Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention." 

7:02 PM

"There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber -- good people -- who would like to see more cooperation, would like to see a more elevated debate in Washington but feel trapped by the imperatives of getting elected, by the noise coming out of your base.  I know; you've told me."

7:03 PM

Obama: "I think we've gotta end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. {Standing ovation}  Let a bipartisan group do it."

> These guys got downright excited at THAT prospect.

"We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can't bankroll our elections. {Applause}"

"And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can't pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution.  'Cause it's a problem.  And most of you don't like raisin' money.  I know.  I've done it."

"We've got to make it easier to vote, not harder. We need to modernize it, for the way we live now."  This inspires another round of "damn right" standing applause from the First Lady: 

A bit incredulously, Obama then says, "This is America.  We want to make it easier for people to participate."

7:05 PM

Obama: "What I'm suggesting is hard.  It's a lot easier to be cynical, to accept that change is not possible, and politics is hopeless, and the problem is, all the folks who are elected don't care, and to believe that our voices and our actions don't matter.

But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future.  Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure.  And then, as frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don't look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background." 

7:07 PM

"So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, whether you supported my agenda or fought as hard as you could against it, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen.  To vote.  To speak out.  To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us."  {Applause}

"We need every American to stay active in our public life, and not just during election time, so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day." 

"It is not easy.  Our brand of democracy is hard.  But I can promise that, a little over a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I will be right there with you as a citizen, inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness, that have helped America travel so far."

> At this point, VP Biden looks like he's about to cry, and Speaker Ryan appears wistful

"Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino; not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not Democrat or Republican; but as Americans first, bound by a common creed." ...

"And they're out there, those voices.  They don't get a lot of attention.  They don't seek a lot of fanfare, but they're busy doing the work this country needs doing.

I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours.  I see you.  The American people.  And in your daily acts of citizenship, I see our future unfolding."

7:10 PM

"I see it in the American who served his time, made bad mistakes as a child, but now is dreaming of starting over."

> Speaker Ryan starts nodding in agreement here

"And I see it in the business owner, who gives him that second chance.  The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe."  ...

"It's the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he's been taught." {Applause} ...

"That's the America I know.  That's the country we love.  Clear-eyed.  Big-hearted, undaunted by challenge, optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.  That's what makes me so hopeful about our future."  {Applause}

"I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people.  And that's why I stand here, as confident as I have ever been that the state of our Union is strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

HERE's a full transcript of the speech, as it was delivered, courtesy of Washington Post, and here is the Fox News link to the first of four segments of the speech.

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