Live blogging the state of the nation


9:20 PM EST – Hugs and cheers for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recovering from pancreatic cancer treatment. Where’s Jim Bunning?

This isn’t a real state of the union, but U.S. Rep Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) sustains tradition and manages to get through to the front lines to shake President Obama’s hand.

Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) is at the front of the chamber.

9:30 – Sen. Joe Lieberman delivers his trademark avuncular applause ("Yes dear, the pirouette was perfect") at Obama’s pledge to make sure tax-funded loans go to taxpayers.

9:35 – Speaking of avuncular senators, what’s with Arlen Specter’s Miami-ready light-green blazer?

9:36 – How does Peter Orszag manage to pull off junior gangbusters and maternal all at once?

9:38 – Obama’s three pillars of recovery: Energy, health care and education. That makes the UJC’s William Daroff a two-thirds prophet: This is Daroff’s pre-speech statement:

While the focus of his speech needs to be on the recession, and a comprehensive bipartisan plan to simultaneously move us into economic recovery, while caring for those most impacted and ensuring that the market failures that led to the economic collapse are not repeatable, we hope that he also focuses on two key pillars of the Jewish communal agenda:  reforming health care – reducing costs for families and businesses, while increasing coverage – and energy independence – ensuring that we are not held hostage by petroleum and the countries that control it.

9:40 – 3 B’s: Barbara Boxer’s blond.

9:43 – Nancy Pelosi makes sure SCHIP gets a standing ovation.

9:44 – Dick Lugar likes health care reform! See, it’s not just foreign policy realism that unites them!

9:46 – Is Joe Biden checking his Blackberry during the education part?

9:48 – Carl and Sander Levin are hanging together! Blood crosses chambers.

9:52 – Chuck Schumer likes the line about "With the deficit we inherited…" A lot.

9:56 – Schumer keeps clapping in Mitch McConnell’s ear. Frist, Lott – is this what drove you out?

9:59 – Israel line, with a hint of Iran:  "We cannot shun the negotiating table … To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones and use all elements of our national power."

"All elements." Hmmmm.

10:04 – Leonard Abess, the Jewish bank president who gave his bonus to his staff, is Obama’s first hero of the evening, and can barely contain his emotions when he gets a standing ovation:

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him.  He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ”I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old.  I didn’t feel right getting the money myself."

10:15 – And Eliot Engel gets him on the way out too! So does Debbie Wasserman Schutlz who, thankfully, has lost the perm.

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