Liveblogging Obama's First State Of The Union: Death Of Hope


In 2008, voters flocked to the polls to elect Barack Obama in order to bring political change. A year after his inauguration, we’re sending more troops abroad, there’s no health care reform, and the economy sucks. Got Hope?

From sending lawyers to court to defend the Defense of Marriage Act to backing compromise upon compromise to take the teeth out of health care reform and roll back women’s access to reproductive health coverage in the name of bipartisanship, many people who voted for Change are trying to figure out how they ended up unemployed, uninsured and unenthused under the President that Sarah Palin called a Socialist out to destroy everything President Bush once wrought.

So, a year in, what’s the State of This Union? People are still unemployed (including me) and the bankers are making bank as they repossess people’s houses; health care reform isn’t reform-y or about anything other than health insurance companies and, like a lot of people without health insurance, it’s on life support wondering if someone will pull the plug because it’s too expensive; and Obama hasn’t pleased the right, the middle or the left. But, hey, he’ll finally back a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because he’s got almost nothing left to lose and might as well throw us liberals a bone.

But, hey! He’s giving a speech and I’m drinking because, it turns out, that thing I learned in my history classes about how one man never changes the universe by himself is really true! And I’m writing about it below, while watching on MSNBC because if there’s any Hope left in this country, it isn’t available by watching the popularity dials on CNN or the creeping Schadenfreude on Fox. It starts, along with my drinking, below.

10:45 pm: Okay, ladies, I’m off to finish off my wine, grumble in my popcorn bowl and wait for Rachel Maddow to tell me something I didn’t know already. Thanks for following along!

10:43 pm: Chris Matthews points out that neither party has the capability of giving a response speech that’s an actual fucking response to the speech the country spent 90 minutes watching. I just spent 105 minutes doing that.

10:42 pm: God bless everyone, unless they are subject to institutional discrimination, in which case, get yourself some motherfucking bootstraps.

10:41 pm: Obligatory fetus reference, followed by yet another one to the need to eliminate affirmative action.

10:40 pm: He quotes the Bible, and says there’s no reason for USAID and the military to be involved in Haiti as long as you text $10 to the Red Cross. I mean, government intervention sucks, man.

10:39 pm: McDonnell doesn’t care if you succeed, just as long as HE thinks you had the same right to get ahead by getting married and pushing out a couple of kids while your husband pays fewer taxes and starts his own business. STRONG FAMILIES FOR THE REPUBLICAN WIN.

10:38 pm: McDonnell quotes Scott Brown on Captain Underpants, then lies about how Captain Underpants is using Miranda to stop providing intel. That part is a blatant lie, by the way.

10:37 pm: Bob McDonnell doesn’t think Obama has anything to do with the troop draw-down, it’s all about the soldiers.

10:37 pm: They cut to the African-American guy when talking about the need to get an education.

10:35 pm: Bobby says we ought to use every single one of our natural resources. He doesn’t mention what he’ll do when we use them up.

10:34 pm: Bob McDonnell is very orange, and is using the talking point about the health care reform bill from last year. He’s also using health care reform talking points — buying health insurance across state lines and medical malpractice reforms — from 2002, when not even Republicans could get them passed.

10:32 pm: Bob McDonnell’s speech is so bad we are just cracking jokes about sperm, sorry,

10:30 pm: Bob McDonnell gives his response to the speech from Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy. To make up for that, he has 4 black men and 2 black women on the dais behind him. See, there ARE black Republicans. Six of them. None of them know the meaning of the term “irony.”

10:27 pm: Chris Matthews announces that he forgot Barack Obama was black tonight. My hosts for the evening nearly hit the floor laughing.


10:21 pm: And it’s over! He doesn’t call out his guests in the gallery, which is a thumb in the nose of Reagan-era politics. It’s now HANDSHAKE-GASM part 2. Stay tuned for Bob McDonnell to be utterly unprepared to give a decent response.

10:20 pm: Obama isn’t gonna quit, and doesn’t want you to, either.

10:19 pm: Americans are nicer than we think we are sometimes. Charles Grassley seems unconvinced, and has a nasty cold sore.

10:16 pm: Obama addresses my problems. He says he never promised that change would be easy. We’re a big, complex country, Megan, he says. And politicians could do bullshit to get through the next elections and keep their poll numbers high. And other people got us here because people did hard stuff ages ago. Congress doesn’t seem so convinced that it’s more important to do what’s right than be reelected in November. Obama says, Americans have bigger problems than your dumb asses.

10:16 pm: When he was a kid, he had hope. And when rich people make themselves richer, he’s disappointed. He’s also disappointed in Glenn Beck, like the rest of us are.

10:13 pm: He’s going to work with Congress to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and women will get equal pay, and some people will get immigration reform. Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

10:12 pm: Haiti, Iran and Guinea! It’s all about freedom and shit. It’s all about our ideals. And we find united in diversity, and I roll my eyes.

10:11 pm: HIV/AIDS, bioterrorism, Joe Biden looking bored, and the part in which Middle America tunes the fuck out. But, oh, hey, Haiti! People care about that.

10:09 pm: No one gives enough of a shit about the START treaty to applaud until Pelosi makes ’em stand on the second applause line.

10:08 pm: Michelle and Jill remain the only two guests of the President that said President has called out by name. Either he’s going to finally fucking stop that Reagan-esque shit, or this speech is going to be a fuck of a lot longer.

10:06 pm: Full withdrawal from Iraq by August, which 3 months to go before the midterms.

10:04 pm: It takes a full hour to get to foreign policty and wars, unlike the prior Administration and it’s Axis of Evil, which really ought to be a porn title but I’m not going to Google that.

10:03 pm: Obama says it’s sad that the post-9/11 unity has dissipated. Unfortunately, that was the climate in which the PATRIOT Act, which took a ginormous, post-burrito dump on the Constitution was forged. I thus don’t think it’s so bad that said version of bipartisanship is as dead as Saddam, about whom Obama is sort of talking by the time I type this.

10:03 pm: Obama promises to meet with Republicans, and Republicans agree that they don’t give a fuck and don’t want to meet with him.

10:01 pm: Obama doesn’t care, because he cares. Governing isn’t about politics, he says, and he manages to do it with a straight face and everything.

10:00 pm: Blah blah let’s not bullshit about bipartisanship, honey, no one cares. Promise.

9:58 pm: Obama schools the Supreme Court on why Citizens United v. FEC sucks, and Ginsberg’s body posture is all, like, yeah, I know, it’s fucking depressing.

9:56 pm: People don’t think the government sucks because lobbyists exist. People think the government sucks because they can’t get anything important done because they’re too busy doing popular-but-ineffective shit like trying to kill lobbying. ALSO: 90% of real lobbyists would fucking love to be prohibited from giving campaign donations, real talk.

9:55 pm: People didn’t like GWB just because he cracked bad jokes, for real.

9:54 pm: Obama wants PAYGO back, as though Congress can hold to that for 10 whole months.

9:53 pm: Obama is going to issue an Executive Order to propose a deficit-reduction commission since the Senate won’t.

9:53 pm: Obama proposes tax increases that have been proposed and failed to pass since 2007. I know, because I was working at a tax policy think tank in 2007.

9:52 pm: If I stopped giving a shit, most people did ten minutes ago. Something about budget reduction. Zzzzzz.

9:50 pm: Obama is mad about Bush spending money. McCain is feeling some snark, or else he’s got a turtlehead poking out. Lindsay Graham is still smiling, so either he’s had his head so far up McCain’s ass for so long that he likes the odor or McCain farts rainbows and sunshine.

9:49 pm: Health care reform will reduce our deficit if Congress actually sticks to the future Medicare cuts envisioned in the bill, which everyone knows they won’t. No one really gives a shit about the deficit (see also: Medicare prescription drug coverage).

9:47 pm: Obama isn’t going to walk away from Americans just because the teabaggers are scary. I, however, will continue to avoid teabaggers like the plague, because they are inevitable close-talkers and have weird breath.

9:46 pm: Michelle would like y’all to sit down, so she can get the fuck out of there and have a glass of wine.

9:45 pm: Obama pretends that health care “reform” will actually reform things that are important and game-changing.

9:43 pm: Obama is gonna clear some shit up on health care reform. Hey, assholes, he wants you to do some politically unpopular shit, because Americans care. Only, you know, they care when they want shit, just not when they vote. Ask Martha Coakley.

9:42 pm: Hey, non-profit educational institutions should operate as non-profits? HAHAHAHA. (Wipes eyes, glares at alma mater.)

9:41 pm: FUCK SALLIE MAE!!

9:40 pm: Obama swears schools won’t suck anymore.

9:39 pm: Obama comes out for the Doha negotiations at the World Trade Organization, and for the Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama negotiated by GWB. Republicans, and one, lone female Democrat applaud.

9:37 pm: Obama swears we’ll double our exports in the next 5 years. He does not mention eliminating the strong dollar policy. They’re going to help farmers and small businesses sell abroad and FINALLY allow consumer products to be exported to China. If you didn’t know, current export controls don’t allow companies to sell consumer technology — like your basic laptops — if they can be used for other things, like all computers can.

9:37 pm: You don’t have to believe in climate change, you just have to believe that spending money to prevent it is good for America. I’m not sure this is a great red-state talking point.

9:35 pm: Um, also, you can build all the solar panels you want if no one can afford to buy them… Also, congrats! More nuclear power! And: DRILL BABY DRILL! And CLEAN COAL! Awesome, it’s like listening to GWB again.

9:33 pm: He’s not interested in punishing banks? What about the whole taxing-them thing? Also: he’s the only one that isn’t interested in punishing them. I’d like to have a paddle and a bunch of bend-over boyfriends at the next Congressional hearing starring the bank CEOs.

9:31 pm: “Washington has been telling us to wait for decades.” Where do you work, again? Just because you don’t work in the Senate anymore…

9:29 pm: Obama wants a jobs bill on his desk without delay. He also wanted a health care bill on his desk by August 2009.

9:28 pm: Obama is going to slash the tax breaks that Halliburton got for moving jobs overseas.

9:27 pm: Republicans applaud for tax breaks for big businesses. Quelle surprise. They apparently missed the new populism.

9:26 pm: The banks are still dicking you over! So, he’s taking the big banks’ money and giving it to small banks because maybe they won’t fuck you over as much.

9:24 pm: JOBS JOBS JOBS! He calls for a new jobs bill to try to create some, since the last jobs bill kinda didn’t.

9:23 ET: The stimulus saved jobs, it didn’t create them. Also, you spin me right round, baby, right round like a record, baby, right round, round, round.

9:21 ET: Calls Beohner out on not applauding. Really? Thanks for the joke, I guess. Also: Boehner has a bad fake tan! Hit him on that!

9:21 pm: If you get you health insurance through COBRA, it’s because you’re unemployed.

9:20 pm: Now that the banks have all the money, they can pay all the taxes, since everyone who doesn’t work for a bank is unemployed.

9:18 pm: Everyone hated the bank bailout? THEN WHY THE FUCK DID THEY DO IT? Oh, it was “necessary.” Because the banks were the beginning and the end of the economy and , oh, BY THE WAY, Bush started it. Congratulations. You’ll be blamed for it anyway.

9:17 pm: Obama still has hope! They finally applaud. Some people think, “It’s easy to have hope when you have a job guaranteed through January 2013.”

9:15 pm: “Change has not come fast enough.” This may also be the longest a State of the Union has gone without applause, like, ever.

9:14 pm: Getting the bad shit out of the way early. If he keeps doing this, we all might be too drunk to finish. Also: he name-drops small towns where they don’t eat arugula.

9:13 pm: Obama: Here’s why everything seems so fucked up right now. It’s not my fault.

9:12 pm: Obama makes a Civil War reference, and sticks his thumb in the eye of the Virginia education system, in which they still call it the Battle of Manassas. TO THE VICTORS GO THE SPOILS, BITCHES!

9:11 pm: He begins. And he’s all about the Constitution. Too bad the Supreme Court is seemingly less so these days. CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE, AND MONEY IS SPEECH. That’s Article IV, right?

9:10 pm: Applause.

9:07 pm: One, plus Hilda Solis. Not gonna lie: Hilda Solis is a Cabinet Secretary the President ought to cheek-kiss.

9:07 pm: Number of women Members of Congress left unkissed in the first minute of HANDSHAKE-GASM: zero

9:06 pm: THE HANDSHAKE-GASM BEGINS. Obama is in the aisle.

9:02 pm: Has there been an analysis of why Michelle Obama has foregone the pencil skirts of the campaign in favor of flow-y A-line skirts that often include pleats?

9:01 pm: My personal nerd-crush, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, takes pity on Janet NApolitano and engages her in conversation. I love that guy.

8:58 pm: No one wants to fucking talk to Bob Gates except the justices. It’s an ugly night when Tom Harkin is more popular and he’s not even wearing the Pooh Bear suit. Orszag is similarly ignored.

8:57 pm: Michelle Obama enters, and looks amazing. And a gazillion feet tall. There’s a reason I felt average-height in D.C.

8:55 pm: John Roberts walks in, looking extremely pleased with himself. He may have just taken a really nasty shit in his pants that Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be forced to smell the entire speech and his clerks will be forced to clean, there’s really no saying. Or he might just still be recovering from the huge load of jizz he spooged all over the American electorate with the Citizens United v. FEC decision. It’s hard to tell.

8:53 pm: Anna IMs me: “Please make sure you liveblog the GOP response.”
I respond, among other things: Bob McDonnell will be lucky to get through it without scratching his balls and sniffing his fingers.”

8:52 pm: Jamie Lee Curtis would like to help me shit right. After the speech, this might become more necessary than it currently is.

8:47 pm: I like Eugene Robinson, and not just because I enjoy his voice. I feel like he’s not a dick, which is an unusual feeling for me while watching cable news. He’s not really saying anything, sorry. Americans are upset, Obama is worried, yadda yadda yadda. Also: if Jon Favreau fucks up writing this one again, he really should start worrying about that mortgage on the Logan Circle condo.

8:42 ET: Keith Olbermann plays some FDR audio and I start to pass out. Then the Jeff Bridges movie commercial comes on and I wake up.

Also, if you have questions, it’s easiest to Twitter at me because it makes a noise and, if I’m not consumed with disappointment and anger and searching for the corkscrew, I’ll try and respond.

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