SOTU Live Coverage and Open Thread

New commentary up top. Your commentary in comments. Let's play ball.

7:26 -- Why do Dems need to have their leaders give the rebuttal? Our congressional heads have a lot of roles and talents, but oratory is not necessarily among them. Is there a reason we can't have, say, Biden and Tim Ryan offering the response? Anyway, I need dinner. Been fun, though.

7:23 -- Pelosi's a markedly ineffective speaker. Her facial expressions are off, delivery monotonous. She's definitely making Reid look good here. And us bad. Or at least boring.

7:19 -- Reid just compared the President's speech to Groundhog Day. Now he's hitting privatization. Problem is, Bush is talking about how Social Security is going to destroy our economy, and Democrats are explaining how Bush's Social Security plan will destroy our economy. They need to explain why something being floated as a fiscal plan is actually profligate.

7:14 -- Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi are giving the response. Reid is in full Mr. Rogers mode, talking about his humble beginnings, and offering self-deprecating anecdotes. He's certainly the lowest-key, most calming speaker I've ever seen. Not necessarily boring, but pleasant, hypnotic, like a lullaby. His speech is good and sharp though, whether anybody's watching is another question.

7:05 -- He's finished. Good speech, well delivered. The difference between extemporaneous debate Bush and scripted Bush is tremendous.

I wish I had some rhetorically sharp, substantively incisive wrap-up for you, but there's not much to talk about. As I said below, "sounds good, but how?" Beyond the speech, the moment spent watching Sgt. Norwood's mother fight back tears was just devastating. Also, we put Iran on the defensive, promised support for a revolution and surely scared the shit out of the mullahs. I hope it was the right thing to do, and won't simply convince the government they need nukes all the quicker.

7:03 -- The mother of the Iraqi soldier Bush just eulogized had the hardest, most agonizing struggle playing across her face as she battled to hold back the tears. It almost made me cry. In politics, you can forget that this is all so real. The applause the family is now getting is the night's most affecting moment, by far.

6:59 -- "Freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come."

Sounds good, but, how? Actually, that sums up my feelings about the whole speech (save for the "round-up all gay gays" portion)..

6:54 -- He just pushed Saudi Arabia. Good for him! But file this paragraph under "movies I've seen before":

To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act - and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror - pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

That last line? An attempt to embolden reformers in Iran and provoke an overthrow. Which it probably won't do. What it will do is provoke the famously paranoid Iranian government towards further fear and more determined pursuit of power. I'm for democracy-promotion, but this sort of thing has proven counterproductive when applied to Iran in the past.

6:48 -- "The United States has no intention of imposing our form of government on anybody else." That's kinda untrue, isn't it? I mean, democracy is good and I think we should promote it, but when you invade a country and push the leaders we install into holding elections leading towards a pluralistic, representative democracy, we're pretty much imposing our form of government on them.

6:46 -- We don't like terrorists. "We'll stand with the allies of freedom". Also, Uzbekistan, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia...

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