All the previews and prognostications are finally over—the State of the Union begins in fifteen minutes. You can watch along live in the YouTube video above, or, if you prefer to not give your eyeballs to Google, you can watch both the SotU and the Republican response on C SPAN. After the SotU and the SotU response are both over, the Teabagger response to the response to the SotU will stream live at TeaPartyExpress.org. Apparently, at the exact same time as the Teabagger response, Kshama Sawant will deliver the socialist response to the response to the SotU live on Seattle Channel. I don't know which of those last two responses to live-Slog; help me decide by voting in the poll at the bottom of this post.
The live-Slog begins below. You'll find the oldest post at the very bottom and the newest posts up at the top. Ready? Fill up your cleanest pint glass with whatever it is that gets you drunk, because it's going to be a long night.
8:27 PM: If you'd like to read this live-Slog, be sure to start at the bottom and read your way back up! If you're too busy to read a whole live-Slog, here's a .gif that encapsulates the speech:
— The Ministry of GIFs (@GIFs) January 21, 2015
8:16 PM: I don't know if I got all of Sawant's speech due to streaming issues—most everyone was frozen out of the stream, so far as i can tell—but the gist of it was the same as last year, an appealing pitch for the Socialist Party as a meaningful alternative to the big two political parties. And so far as that goes, she did a better job than the Republican response and the Teabaggy response. I was skeptical when I heard Sawant was going to do this response to the SotU again this year; I thought last year's was an effective way to make a splash, but I wasn't sure that going back to the well was such a good idea. But Sawant did a good job of making herself accessible to Democrats and of tuning her speech to Obama's more optimistic tone. As the highest-profile socialist in Seattle she's got to take any platform she can get, and she's getting better and better at articulating why people need to pay attention to her.
8:09 PM: "We need to build our own political voice," Sawant says, calling for "a mass political party for working people." She agrees that Obama sounded good tonight, but she says we'll never achieve the goals he called for if we don't remove the money from politics and make politicians accountable. She then explains all the goals we could reach, including "ending racism," if we elected more people's politicians. She ends her speech with the word "solidarity."
8:06 PM: My feed has been stuck for three minutes now. My laptop successfully streamed all three previous speeches tonight, but apparently the Seattle Channel is too much for it to handle.
8:03 PM: Federal support for public housing has been cut, Sawant says, at a time when Seattle is becoming even more unfriendly to poor people.
8:02 PM: Sawant says income inequality has gotten worse since Obama took office. She says the trade agreements Obama supports are terrible for the environment.
8:01 PM: Sawant's speech begins with a callback to the time when Obama won office. "How does Obama plan to overcome the inevitable Republican obstruction," she asks?
7:53 PM: Clawson just told France he supports them, which is maybe the first time that's ever happened in a Teabagger speech. He rasps something else about God and talks about freedom some more and then he stops talking. At the end of his speech, he stares at the camera for something like thirty seconds, blinking uncomfortably. You know, I remember when Teabagger speeches used to have substance. They used to mean something. Not something I agreed with, but they were coherent. Now, it's just warmed-over George W. Bush claptrap about saving money and spending money and who knows what-all else.
7:50 PM: As I'm waiting for Sawant to start her speech, I tuned in to the Teabagger response. Curt Clawson is also demanding that President Obama approve the Keystone Pipeline. "We all believe in God," Clawson says. He's got a really raspy voice, like a bad guy in an 80s action movie. He says we need to secure the borders (for the sake of "fairness") and we need to fight radical Islam but we need to stop getting involved with "bad wars." Clawson, it turns out, is unable to say the word "disproportionate."
7:47 PM: Video stream of Sawant's speech is working and OH MY GOD SEATTLE CHANNEL YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH THIS LITE JAZZ BULLSHIT. As I clean my ears out with a ball peen hammer, please enjoy this tweet:
This is the 6th GOP #SOTU response in a row featuring a Republican who speaks to us like they're addressing a room full of kindergartners.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) January 21, 2015
7:44 PM: While I'm still trying to get Seattle Channel to behave, enjoy this Hardee's ad disguised as a note thanking Ernst for running a Hardee's ad disguised as a campaign:
I would have liked Joni Ernst's Hardee's line more if it hadn't been in her victory speech and a newspaper ad. pic.twitter.com/QIvb8zwa02
— Ben Greenman (@bengreenman) January 21, 2015
7:40 PM: Based on the Slog poll below, it looks like you guys want me to live-Slog Kshama Sawant's response to the response. Seattle Channel's site is not being super-responsive, but I'll keep trying.
7:39 PM: I can't get over how short that speech was.
7:37: Wow. That was a short speech, and highly unexceptional. Ernst was robotic, but not as robotic as Bobby Jindal, and she's earning praise from pundits for not sucking down water.
7:35 PM: Ernst's speech is pretty much straightforward 2015 Republican boilerplate: Cut spending, poor people can become rich, bomb everyone who's not us, health care is Satan.
7:32 PM: Now she's talking about terrorism, veterans, and repealing and replacing Obamacare.
7:29 PM: Ernst says she grew up poor, wore bread bags on her feet to protect her one good pair of shoes. She somehow segued from those bread bags to the "bipartisan" Keystone pipeline, which somehow become the Most Important Economic Issue of Our Time.
7:28 PM: Here's Joni Ernst. "It's important to hear different points of view," she says. She's calling for a "conversation" about the "new Republican Congress you elected." Ernst, who has a very interesting cadence, like she's starring in a high school musical, is talking about what the last six years have done to the country.
7:26 PM: I added a second Slog poll at the bottom. What did you think of the State of the Union?
7:18 PM: While we're waiting for the Republicans, you can check in on a fact check of the State of the Union over at FiveThirtyEight.
7:10 PM: And that's that. Stay tuned for the Republican response.
7:09 PM: Richard Nixon agrees that Obama's sick burn was great:
.@BarackObama There you go. There you go. Fuck 'em.
— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) January 21, 2015
7:07 PM: Oh my God, that was a great moment. Obama says he has no more campaigns to run, and a few Republicans cheer in response. Obama then says "I know, because I won both of 'em." Such a catty moment right after his appeal for "a better politics," but totally worth it. I laughed out loud.
7:04 PM: Obama is calling for civility in politics:
Understand — a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.
A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.... If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments — but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.
Then Obama says, "We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs." John Boehner gave the most awkward half-clap for that bit. One hand was stiff and the other was kind of mushed into a claw and then he just tapped them together a few times, weakly.
On all the places where Obama says we can surely agree … Republicans don't agree. And Obama knows that.
— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) January 21, 2015
7:02 PM: Good commentary just wired in from Savage Estates:
Gay marriage is still a wedge issue—only it divides Republicans now, not Democrats. #SOTU
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) January 21, 2015
6:59 PM: Right after I mentioned that I thought Boehner was asleep, I saw him rub his eye. So he's conscious, for whatever that's worth.
6:58 PM: Republicans aren't quite sure what to do when Obama says he "restricted torture" and that we need to "reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace." Democrats cheer when Obama says "it's time to close Gitmo." I think Speaker Boehner has fallen asleep. I love this part of the speech:
That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.
6:56 PM: Obama mentions the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record. This is important stuff. He says he's not a scientist, but he knows some really good scientists, and we need to step up to protect "the one planet we've got."
6:54 PM: There's the Joe Biden I'm missing in this C SPAN feed:
WHEN U ROLL UP TO A BEEF AND U GOT THAT THANG ON U pic.twitter.com/RpIBcSyTCj
— The Kid Mero (@THEKIDMERO) January 21, 2015
6:52 PM: The requisite cybersecurity portion of the speech is presumably the first time a president has referred to a James Franco/Seth Rogen film in a State of the Union.
6:51 PM: Love this picture:
President Obama embraces Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to beginning the #SOTU. http://t.co/MVREYDC2II | AP Photo pic.twitter.com/sdS8UOtmlt
— POLITICO (@politico) January 21, 2015
6:47 PM: The "chase down the terrorists" part of the speech is predictably applauded. The rest of the foreign policy bit, not so much. Obama calls out Mitt Romney in a subtweet kind of way for overstating the threat of Putin's Russia. There's raucous applause from at least half the room on opening diplomacy with Cuba, and everyone cheers Alan Gross, who's "back where he belongs."
6:44 PM: This C SPAN live stream is cutting Joe Biden off at the chin and IT IS BUMMING ME OUT. Is Crazy Uncle Joe giving good eyebrow right now?
6:41 PM: Fearlesss Leader puts President Obama's call for better internet in proper perspective:
"I intend to protect a free and open internet." Your porn is safe! #SOTU2015
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) January 21, 2015
6:39 PM: President Obama tells an American astronaut to not forget to "Instagram" outer space. That is not my favorite moment of this speech.
6:35 PM: Of course, the Republicans finally come to life when President Obama mentions veterans.
6:32 PM: I'm pretty sure Republicans are not liking President Obama's community college plan right now. John Boehner looks like he's fallen asleep. Also, all this furious not-clapping is being noticed, Republicans:
There are people *not clapping* at equal pay in 2015. #SOTU
— Hilary Tone (@HToneTastic) January 21, 2015
Remember that time John Boehner couldn't bring himself to clap for equal pay for women?
— Drew Courtney (@DrewCourt) January 21, 2015
Look at all the men standing and clapping for equal pay for women! pic.twitter.com/O8AQyJBf3p
— Rebecca Reis (@rebAReis) January 21, 2015
6:27 PM: Obama's spending a lot of time talking about child care, which is great:
...that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.
He's also segueing into paid maternity leave and "a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave" because "it’s the right thing to do." He repeats, "it's the right thing to do." Women should be paid equally because "it's 2015. It's time." And this part is just gorgeous:
And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.
6:25 PM: If you're taking off an article of clothing every time President Obama talks about the middle class, you're probably very close to being naked now. He's now talking about income inequality. Republicans are sitting down and not clapping.
6:21 PM: President Obama talks about economic growth with such confidence that it makes my face twitch from all the jinxes he's raining down on the nation. He reads a laundry list of accomplishments: Job creation, health insurance, cheap gas. "This is good news, people," he says to laughter. Republicans have stayed seated through most of those accomplishments.
6:18 PM: I try not to comment on the clothing of politicians who are women, but this seems worthy of note:
Check out the shoes Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is wearing tonight for her State of the Union rebuttal. #sotu pic.twitter.com/rMCzcg4mxO
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 21, 2015
6:16 PM: Awkward applause and then laughter for a young couple from Minneapolis.
6:15 PM: As President Obama calls for planning for the future, Red State blogger Erick Erickson says he's read the speech. "It sucks," Erickson says. He adds, "Obama may not be the anti-Christ, but he sure is the anti-Kennedy."
6:11 PM: President Obama calls 2014 "a breakthrough year for America" and praises the economy's growth. He gets a standing ovation for that. Big round of applause for "more of our people are insured than ever before," but no standing ovation. A lot of Republicans abstain from applauding the insuring of Americans.
6:09 PM: President Obama is in a dark suit. Earlier tonight, the official White House Twitter feed trolled the media into believing he'd be wearing his hated tan suit from
earlier this year last year:
President Obama's suiting up for the big speech. Watch at 9pm ET → http://t.co/NKU3ndKHOu #YesWeTan pic.twitter.com/l7EJZYVk9s
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 21, 2015
6:06 PM: Only six minutes late: "Mister speaker! The president of the United States!"
6:04 PM: Holy shit, and there's this line, too:
I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.
I can't wait to see how Republicans respond to Obama calling gay marriage a civil right.
6:02 PM: Yeah, get a load of this line:
The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
That's some classic Reagan-style optimism, right there.
5:57 PM: Just skimming the transcript, it looks like President Obama is going for pure, unfettered optimism for this speech, calling for America to "turn the page" and move into the future. If he's on his game, he could evoke the best of 2008 candidate Obama. If he's not on his game, it might fall flat.
5:51 PM: The White House has released the entire transcript of tonight's address on Medium so you can read along at home.
5:50 PM: 538 has some useful information about what gets said at the State of the Union and what actually gets done after it gets said at the State of the Union:
What % of #SOTU proposals become law? Here's the batting avg for every president since 1965: http://t.co/FAWtBVT60M pic.twitter.com/Smkbi7LkSe
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) January 20, 2015
5:45 PM: This State of the Union already received its first rebuttal from former Arkansas governor/retired Fox News host Mike Huckabee, who released his commentary three hours before Obama even took the podium. What a forward thinker he is! For more incisive conservative State of the Union commentary, be sure to check out this Red State preview, titled "President Borat to Announce Trolling Agenda Tonight." So timely! It begins, "I am not going to watch the State of the Union Address tonight. My advice to you, if you want to live a happier and more well-informed life, is that you shouldn’t either." Such civic duty!
Looking for a drinking game?
• Take a sip every time a Republican sneers or rolls their eyes on camera. (That'll get you nice and wasted early in the evening.)
• Do a shot if President Obama flubs a joke. Do two shots if Obama laughs at his own joke.
• Drain your glass if a Republican shouts at Obama.
• Smoke some legalized marijuana every time President Obama refers to "turning the page."
• Remove an article of clothing every time Obama talks about the middle class.
• If Obama mentions clean coal, drink all the booze in sight, kick out a window, and write an angry letter demanding environmental justice.
• Eat an entire box of Cheez-Its™ every time Obama mentions Hillary Clinton.
• Admit yourself to rehab if anything Joni Ernst says in her rebuttal makes sense.