SOTU - Sort Of

Rich Galen
By Rich Galen | February 25, 2009 | 10:08 AM EST

Article II Section 3: [The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

Last night's speech by President Obama was not an official State of the Union address (SOTU as those of us who live and work in Washington like to call it to confuse and confound those of you who do not) but, as Ed Rollins said in the pre-game show on CNN "I've been through about 40 of these speeches and whether this is an official State of the Union address or not, it is the most anticipated."

Yesterday afternoon, I was on WSPD in Toledo, Ohio with Mullpal Brian Wilson. He asked me how I thought President Obama would do. I said he'd do great. He's really good at this and he will hit it out of the park.

Here are my on-the-fly thoughts:

The President got off to a good start:

"We will rebuild, we will recover and the United States will emerge stronger than before."

Sort of mindful of the "We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail" of George W. Bush's post-9/11 speech in that same building.

I'm amazed how quickly I have accepted Barack Obama as our President. He looks like our President and he sounds like our President. I don't think I ever accepted Jimmy Carter.

"It's not about helping banks, its about helping people." The President thought applause had buried the line, so he said it again. In the next paragraph he talked about Americans being able to "buy that car." But without banks who is going to finance that car?

Nancy Pelosi needs to take a pill before the next SOTU. She's Soooooo happy! She's Sooooo excited! But, that outfit. Yikes! Thud Green.

Is the camera angle - from the Well of the House - typical? Am I being too sensitive about Pelosi looking for a way to make the President's sermon as coming from the Mount?

"…plug-in hybrids which will run on batteries made in Korea." I believe I made that exact point last week.

Barbara Boxer actually looked like she knew where she was. Chuck Schumer actually looked like he should have been somewhere else.

"I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it." I don't think that's correct. As I remember (aided by Wikipedia) the first automobiles were produced in Germany by the Benz (think Mercedes Benz) corporation in 1888 - five years before the first cars were built in the U.S. by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company.

9:47 pm: I'm beginning to think that Obama can deliver a speech better than his staff can write a speech.

Rep. John Lewis of Georgia is sitting next to another Black Congressman. Someone call the Attorney General - they're self-segregating!
We have identified more than two trillion dollars [in savings] over the next ten years" drew applause from the Congress, but wait'll they see which of their favorite programs - which go to their favorite constituents and donors - get whacked.

"If your family earns less than $250,000 - a quarter of a million dollars - a year your taxes will not be increased by one dime."

Joe Biden didn't seem to think that the $250,000 limit before taxes are increased was such a swell idea. He clapped, but you could see him looking at the gallery to see if he could find Tom Daschle's accountant.

9:59 pm: Longest applause of the night after the President thanked the members of the U.S. Armed Services.

"The United States of America does not torture; we can make that commitment here tonight." We'll see.

President's story about the bank executive who shared his bonus with his employees. The Members applauded because they think they do that all the time. The difference is: He gave away his money. They give away our money.

And what about that business earlier poking bankers in the eye?
Health care reform this year. How? It's the third week in February already. And we know how hard the Congress likes to work in August of odd-numbered years.

10:08 pm: "Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."

You can say he was long on ideas and short on details, but that's the nature of these SOTU-type speeches.

I was right. He hit it out of the park.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the text of the President's speech, a Mullfoto from a wall in the "Newseum" in Washington, and a Catchy Caption of the Day.