Welcome back to the Doctor's Office in scenic Pittsburgh, PA. I've been meaning to getting back to the blog, and the President's pseudo-State of the Union speech seems as good an entry point as any, so here goes. As usual, I'm watching on MSNBC:
8:58 - Unprofessional move by Chris Matthews, taking a huge whack at Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Governor, who is giving the GOP response to the President's speech. Says he's "not at all impressed with Jindal". Way to make MSNBC look ridiculous!
9:00 - That reminds me, and just skip to the next one if you don't watch MSNBC kind of a lot, but are you as annoyed as I am with that ridiculous "Hardball" commercial where Matthews says "I hate to teach politics to the experts, but it's fun." in just the jerkiest way possible?
9:04 - Whilst they're still introducing people, let me point you over to an article on fivethirtyeight.com written by a Berkeley linguistics professor about Obama's use of language as unconscious persuasion.
9:08 - Can't they cut out all the slowly introducing people while everyone just sort of mills about and shakes hands with people they've worked with in Congress for 20 years? Isn't there a huge economic crisis y'all could be working on?
9:10 - It's weird, but I still don't really think of Obama as the President. Like, my first-hundredth-of-a-second "how do you think of Barack Obama?" reaction does not include being President. He's still a candidate in my mind.
9:13 - Did Orrin Hatch just grab Obama by the back of the neck? I know he meant it as a friendly gesture, but the man is President!
9:14 - Damn, while typing I apparently missed Hillary kissing Obama (presumably on the cheek). Oh the perils of live-blogging
9:15 - The applauding continuously while the "star" thanks everyone in an attempt to quiet them is strangely "Tonight Show"-ish.
9:16 - Once again Obama steps on a line. He was supposed to wait for Speaker Pelosi to introduce him, but instead started right in on the first few words of his speech.
9:18 - Oh thank God, MSNBC has the opinion meter thingy where two on-screen lines represent how much Obama or McCain voters "like" what he is saying! Now I don't have to worry about forming my own opinion
9:19 - It is oddly hypnotic, though
9:20 - Let's see how smart McCain voters are. He's setting up to trash Bush's policies. I wonder when McCain voters realize it.
9:24 - OK, he didn't go at it nearly as hard as I thought he might. But he definitely gave a few jabs that went unnoticed
9:25 - Aw, look at Joe act all surprised and embarrassed after being complimented by the President. It's like he didn't know it was coming.
9:27 - He's trying to be more optimistic tonight than he's been previously, emphasizing not the "we're in trouble" and more on the "we won't be forever".
9:29 - So why are people worried about nationalizing banks? These banks, by all laws of capitalism, should have gone out of business. But the government stepped in and kept them afloat. So why should people get to keep their shares of a company which should have gone out of business? The only moral argument for people being rich is that the market determined their value to be that high. The market dictates that people who had millions of dollars in Citigroup, AIG etc should have lost their entire investment. So why are we worrying about wiping out the fake "value" of their investment?
9:33 - My oh my, but that opinion meter graph is distracting
9:34 - It's fun when there's a partisan issue that only the Democrats stand up and applaud for. Then you can see a stark representation of their dominant majority in Congress.
9:37 - It's so bizarre to have a President who argues for government, and not calling it the problem.
9:39 - Maybe this is a sign I watch too much sports, but Pelosi is killing Biden at starting standing ovations. Is Biden injured?
9:41 - All this bailout stuff has totally crushed my sense of the value of money in politics. When Obama mentions $15 billion a year for green energy research, my first response is "hmmpf! chump change..."
9:43 - I always thought they rehearsed when to burst into applause. Like, someone would go through the speech with the VP (and Speaker, if they're all the same party) and figure out when to stand up. Pelosi clearly has her own agenda.
9:44 - Isn't it ridiculous that whatever spellchecker this site uses still doesn't recognize "Pelosi" or "Obama"?
9:46 - Thoroughly uninspiring section on health care. I don't have anything to say about it.
9:49 - Having as your national goal reclaiming the highest percentage in the world of the population with college degrees doesn't quite have the inspirational cache of sending a man to the moon
9:51 - He's starting to overuse the "no red or blue states, on the United States"-"not a Democratic issue, not a Republican issue, but an American issue" construction.
9:53 - Oh, in case you didn't hear, the White House announced today that, instead of having all our troops out of Iraq in 16 months, as Obama aimed for during the campaign, he will now aim to have all combat troops out in 19 months. Damn
9:56 - Nice job pointing out the ridiculousness of the Bush policy to not include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when calculating the deficit. That's hundreds of billions of dollars a year that they just didn't include on the supposed "bottom line".
9:57 - Of course, it is not without advantage to Obama to make this change. It's rhetorically easier to double a trillion dollar deficit than triple a half a trillion dollar deficit
10:00 - How sad that I'm glad to hear the President say we don't torture and to believe him. How was that not always a given?
10:05 - Bland, "inspirational" section here. Not really much to say
10:06 - ...so let's talk some more about the audience reaction lines. McCain's voters have pretty consistently been higher than the Obama voters' line. I guess the redliners are trying to be bipartisan or something.
10:08 - In the audience, Ohio Sen. looks like he just had a stroke.
10:09 - He really is pushing hard for the stimulus and budget being mostly things he wants to do anyway (health care, green energy, etc.). Starting out his term going for a home run. OK speech without any particularly memorable moments.
10:13 - Getting ready for Jindal. I honestly don't know why the opposing party always does these. It's pretty much impossible to invent a juxtaposition that makes you look shittier than comparing yourself while standing in an empty office to the Leader of the Free World addressing a joint session of Congress.
10:15 - And Matthews comes around again to dump on Jindal before he even speaks. I really would like it if MSNBC would make at least some effort to separate their opinion people from their news people.
10:24 - Did someone just say "Oh god" under their breath as Jindal came on? Was that Keith?
10:25 - Having never heard him talk in this setting before, I can tell you that my first impression is that he's not very good at this. Neither conversational nor formal. Just kinda silly and fake.
10:29 - Neither he nor Obama have had much in terms of specifics. Such a shame
10:32 - As a doctor, I can tell you that we already have a system where decisions are NOT made by a patient and their doctor. Insurance companies have a lot of say. To state that universal care would ruin a pure patient/doctor relationship is ridiculous
10:33 - Obama voters are not feeling the obligation that McCain voters were to support the other guy. Much lower blue scores for Jindal than red scores for Obama
10:36 - Not great. Nothing memorable from either. I don't think anyone will remember tonight on either side.