I'll say only one more thing tonight, and then I'll leave it alone. Listening to these pundits go back and forth, I'm reminded of the enduring wisdom of Thomas Daly I, who founded Vital Speeches of the Day in 1934 on the notion that the press was giving us nothing but tiny excerpts and their intepretations of what the world's leading thinkers were saying. Daly decided that American citizens deserved to hear the entire message. Whether Americans will read 7,000 word speeches today—or whether those speeches really contain the sincere meat of the best thinking in the world—that's up for grabs. But we'd be better off just listening to the speeches, however disingenuous, than just listening to these fucking pundits.
Lots of Republicans must be groaning right now. Daniels sounds as smart as Gigrich and as sane as Romney.
Mitch Daniels appears to be giving the best Republican response in memory. But "have and soon-to-haves" is some barfy-sounding stuff. (And a "pro-poverty policy [that must be] replaced by a passionate pro-growth approach"? Pish.)
At the end, I'm transfixed at the top of the stairs, standing in a puddle of wine. The wife is downstairs bellowing at me: "I told you this was going to be the big speech. He is amazing!" Scout's asleep now, but Charlie, very much cognizent of the fact that this is the household of the editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, is keeping his composure.
These deafening silences he is forcing are effective, and ballsy.
And an Air Force fighter pilot friend posts on Facebook: "Words, words…I'm hearing a lot of words. I have the cure to cancer written on a bar napkin somewhere. I can't remember where I put it though."
I got your dial-test right here. I run downstairs and ask my Chicago schoolteacher wife how she likes the speech so far. "I love him more than ever."
Eight-year-old daughter Scout is downstairs looking at pictures of the Obamas' dog, Bo. Surely she's old enough to build me another orange blossom. These SOTU speeches bore the shit out of me.
He leans on this conspiratorial whispering thing too frequently. "Teachers matter!"
At WhiteHouse.gov, there's actually a Pac Man graphic showing the path to getting a job.
I'm swearing a lot this year. Thanks, Gordon's.
Oh no he didn't just go all Sorensen on their corporate asses!
And, the PowerPoint is gratuitous and distracting.
That's just a hell of a lot of clapping.
Herman Cain and I call Wolf Blitzer "Blitz." I despise the way Blitz [breath] breathes in the middle [breath] of phrases. I hyperventillate just listening to the guy. But since I can't listen to Rachel Maddow ever since I heard my octagenarian father say, "Where'd they get her?" I'm stuck with [breath] Blitz.
SpeechgeekTweeter Rena Silverman reports that the speech clocks in at 7,304 words, just short of Clinton's longest, which was 7,452. Better pour another tall one.
Holy smoke, I just discovered I can watch "the online-only enhanced version of President Obama's thrid State of the Union Address," at WhiteHouse.gov. "You'll be able to see charts, stats and data that helped inform President Obama's policy decisions as he delivers his speech to the nation."
That's right, babies. The State of the Union—in PowerPoint.
Eat your hearts out.
Maybe I should first explain why I think it's somehow civilized to "live-blog" the State of the Union Address.
I don't believe anyone should Tweet during speeches, let alone live-blog them, because a speech is a thing where one person talks and everyone shuts up and listens and thinks about what the speaker is saying. Your banal comments during the thing detract not only from your own absorption of it but from everyone else's, too. If it were up to me, during a mamor presidential address, Twitter would be closed.
Luckily, the State of the Union Speech isn't really a speech. If it were a fireside chat about one or three issues, then I would feel responsible to offer a sober analysis of a sincere attempt at communication. Which would require me to keep my mouth shut and my hands in my lap until the thing was over.
But the State of the Union is a series of policy utterances couched in Washington code. (To deride the speech as a "laundry list" is to know what a laundry list is. What is a laundry list?)
Mostly, the State of the Union is a chance for political pundits to show off that they know what the president is really saying.
In general: Fuck that.
Nevertheless, you and I and all our pals will watch the SOTU—and former Al Gore scribe Bob Lehrman tells us exactly why we should—but we'll watch it over our reading glasses, and over our cocktails.
And if President Obama says anything surprising, we’ll fall off our chairs.
I haven't even cleared my desk in preparation for this fiasco, and already I've missed Mitt Romney's "prebuttal" in which he thanked President Obama in advance for some lovely phrasing but excoriated him for divisive prhetoric. Gotta get up pretty early to beat a teetotalling Mormon to the fetal worm, but I really did think I got up early enough today.
4:33 a.m. EST
A wrinkle in time allows me to give Writing Boots readers a sneak preview of this vital day in the life of the editor of Vital Speeches. Join me tonight for another desperate and dangerous annual attempt to watch and chew words at the same time, during the State of the Union Address.
The speech starts at 9 p.m. EST, but I'm gonna start chugging gin at my desk at 8, latest. Don't make me drink alone.
(And as for the real speech geeks—Mormons and others who take their SOTU sober—they'll be yakking about the speech at tweetchat.com/room/GGSOUT; you can use the hashtag #GGSOTU to join their stream.)