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Obama's State of the Union: Live blogging the opinion
Tracking the key commentary from TV, blogs, and social media about the president's big speech — and its standout themes — as it unfolds
 
"We will move forward together or not at all," says Obama in his opening of the State of the Union Address.
"We will move forward together or not at all," says Obama in his opening of the State of the Union Address.
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President Obama addressed Congress and the country Tuesday night in his second State of the Union speech. TheWeek.com live-blogged commentary on the major themes of the evening as they developed. Here, a running account of the reaction:

THE REPUBLICAN RESPONSE

11:08 p.m.: The Guardian's Richard Adams believes that not only did Michele Bachmann's chart-assisted rebuttal make Paul Ryan look good, "she's making Sarah Palin sound like Viscount Castlereagh."

10:57 p.m.: Michele Bachmann's Tea Party response "played very well off of Paul Ryan's speech," says Erick Erickson on CNN. "Short words, simple English, get to the point — that's what she did."

10:43 p.m.: "No soaring rhetoric" from Ryan, says Joseph B. White at The Wall Street Journal. "The political equivalent of a tough love talk. The battle lines are drawn for the coming year. Very civil. Very far apart."

10:41 p.m.: Paul Ryan's speech was "lofty," says David Gergen on CNN. And Erick Erickson adds, "He was no Bobby Jindal from last year, which was probably the low bar for responses to the State of the Union."

8:53 p.m.:The networks will be airing Rep Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) Republican response, but CNN is the only network airing Rep. Michele Bachmann's separate "Tea Party" rebuttal. “Reminds me of how back during the Bush years CNN would air a special SOTU response from the left-wing of the Democratic Party," says David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo. "Oh, wait... no, that never happened."

OBAMA'S PERFORMANCE

10:22 p.m.: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow says "President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address tonight giving the country more of a CEO-style pep talk than a football coach-style pep talk."

10:20 p.m.:"The speech lasted more than an hour," says Jim Oliphant at the Los Angeles Times. "Most notable was the lack of sustained applause, which may have been a product of the seating arrangements."

10:15 p.m.: "Not a very exciting speech," says John King at CNN, "but a very carefully calculated political speech."

10:10 p.m.: The president is "painting a positive picture of the U.S. standing and relations around the world," says Joseph B. White at The Wall Street Journal — "much sunnier than recent headlines much suggest."

9:55 p.m.: Says Politico: "President Obama is really enjoying the open mic. He makes his third joke of the evening, and it's pretty good. On government waste, he says; 'Then there's my favorite example: The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them  when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked.'"

HEALTH CARE REFORM

10:52 p.m.: The president "made two things clear about health care" tonight, says Dan Nather at Politico: "he is willing to change it around the edges and he is ready to put it in the rearview mirror." Obama picked "the most obvious issues for finding common ground with Republicans" by focusing on medical malpractice lawsuits and filing requirements for small businesses.

BALANCING AMERICA'S BOOKS

10:26 p.m.: Lawrence O'Donnell at MSNBC calls the speech "a mathematical riddle that cannot be solved," pointing out the president called for a spending freeze but also suggested a number of spending programs.

10:18 p.m.: Obama let an opportunity slip by on the deficit, says David Gergen at CNN. "I really did not think he came through" on that subject.

10:16 p.m.: Chris Wallace at Fox says it took the president "35 minutes to get to the deficit" and that Obama devoted more of his speech to "big government and big spending."

10:02 p.m.: "Apparently we can't afford tax cuts for billionaires? Huh. Then why did we extend them, again?" asks Alex Pareene at Salon. "Oh god he's doing Reagan."

10:00 p.m.: "Everybody hates a five year freeze" on government spending, says Steve Coll at The New Yorker. "Republicans cuz it's not enough, Dems cuz it's too much. The only person who clapped was Biden!"

THE EDUCATION CHALLENGE

9:37 p.m.: The Guardian's Richard Adams notes that "Republican operative" Kevin Madden questions the value of Obama's "Sputnik" reference, by tweeting the quiz question: "Young voters: What's a Sputnik?" Adds Adams: "Another indictment of the American education system?"

9:35 p.m.: Alex Pareene at Salon scoffs at Obama's praise of our young people's inquiring minds: "Our students might not be so great at 'equations' but they're really good at asking Larry King-style questions, like 'What do you think of that idea?'"

CAN AMERICA COMPETE?

9:45 p.m.: "It's sort of conventional wisdom in Washington that the president needs to take over the 'American decline' narrative and a la Reagan or Kennedy inspire (and pander to) belief in American exceptionalism," says Steve Coll at The New Yorker. "But to do that by setting it up as zero sum competition with Asia doesn't feel right. It's not an accurate description of what's going on between us and Asia, for one thing."

9:30 p.m.: Obama is trying to be uplifting, "but one word he uses twice tonight is 'painful,'" says Damian Paletta at The Wall Street Journal. First when mentioning the changes in the economy. Second when talking about spending cuts.

9:25 p.m.:The president says no one could have known the potential of the internet. "Al Gore would beg to differ," jokes Karen Tumulty at The Washington Post.

9:18 p.m.: "We will move forward together, or not at all," Obama says. But "the problem is, which way is 'forward?'" asks Joseph B. White at The Wall Street Journal. "As we'll hear later from Rep. Paul Ryan's GOP response, there's a big divide on that point. That's the core of the debate."

THE BUILDUP

9:09 p.m.: Purple? Lavender? What color is Obama's tie? "I think it's symbolic," Wolf Blitzer says on CNN. "He gave that tie some thought."

9:07 p.m.: "I have said before and will say again, Presidents should enter to theme music ala the campaign trail and pro wrestling," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post.

9:03 p.m.: Conservative commenter Rush Limbaugh is no fan of the ribbons honoring Gabrielle Giffords that many attendees are wearing. He said earlier that they may lead to a "sing-a-long."

8:57 p.m.: "The 'sit next to your opponent' approach raises an interesting question," says Devlin Barrett at The Wall Street Journal. "Should Conan O'Brien be forced to sit for an hour next to Jay Leno?" Or "should Lindsay Lohan be forced to sit down next to, well, about half of the people in Hollywood?"

8:47 p.m.: "Could there be anything as dull as a discussion about, for instance, which Congressmen are going to sit next to one another to watch the speech?" asks Nate Silver in The New York Times.

8:39 p.m.: Did Nancy Pelosi snub House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) by refusing to sit next to him? Well, she had made other plans — and Cantor "forgot a lesson from high school," says Julia Edwards in National Journal. "The popular girls always get asked first."

8:36 p.m.: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' medical team and her heroic intern, Daniel Hernandez, are sitting with Michelle Obama tonight. "The president, no doubt, will introduce Hernandez and thank him for his selfless actions earlier this month," says Rob Anderson in The Boston Globe. "But the Obamas' symbolic gesture will ring hollow unless the president asserts during his speech that gay and lesbians like Hernandez deserve the same rights as every other American."

8:30 p.m.: Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, Jr. are not in attendance tonight. (Alito "has a speaking engagement at the University of Hawaii law school, whose website is currently running an 'Aloha Alito' slide show on its homepage," Politico reports.) "So Antonin Scalia is skipping the SOTU, but isn't too busy to attend a lecture series with teahadist Michelle Bachmann," says John Cole at Balloon Juice. "In reality, Supreme Court attendance is often spotty, even non-existent," notes Nina Totenberg at NPR.

 

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