9:03 PM — He’s late. One thing about Bush — never late.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is right on at the walkway, ready for his moment. The man is dedicated.
9:06 PM — Ok, not so late. Here he comes.
9:08 PM– There’s Engel. Nice arm grab.
9:10 PM — Rahm Emanuel looks solemn. Kidding. He always looks solemn.
9:11 PM — Nice applause. Maybe we (the collective journalistic we) are overstating this crisis thing.
9:13 PM: "I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt."
Tick tock, tick tock, riiiiing. The "blame Bush" card has officially passed its due date.
9:15 PM– Wall Street v. Main Street. An anti-Semite! Where’s Rush?
9:18 PM — "It is because of this spirit – this great decency and great strength – that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight." First applause line, long applause, and the whole room.
9:21 PM — Fees on bankers. It looks like another wall to wall SO. Rush, are they all anti-Semites?
9:22 PM — Eric Cantor tries mightily to smile at President’s joke about expecting Republican applause on his tax cuts. John Boehner smirks. Note to Cantor: Smirking works better, Although laughing wouldn’t have hurt.
9:25 PM — Cantor and Boehner and just about everyone like the new jobs idea. Wait until we see details.
And Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson are seated together. Like misfits in the lunchroom.
9:32 PM — "We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.." This has wall to wall Jewish support. And there’s an Israeli component in developing clean energy technology.
9:36 PM — "It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. " Interesting — wall to wall applause. But Democrats would have pilloried Bush for the same thing.
9:41 — Jill Biden likes the cash-for-community colleges thing, a lot. She teaches at one just down the road from me.
9:43 — 35 minutes, no health care. What gives?
9:44 — Tada! He read my mind.
9:46 — Michelle Obama to tackle childhood obesity? Not being facetious: what about someone who has suffered from this, or is related to someone who has? Is it me, or is this a little tonedeaf?
9:49 — Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) fills the camera when Obama says he will not walk away from health care reform; perhaps because she’s become a public face of the fight to best breast cancer?
9:52 — "Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people." In other words: the Massachusetts loss will not stop this train.
9:59 — "It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or with Congress. It’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office. With all due deference to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems."
Two things: First I’ve heard that foreign entities may weigh in in elections — how does he believe this happens? Through U.S.-owned subsidiaries? And do salaried lobbyists fit into his proposal for disclosure? IE, will this apply to AIPAC, the Federations, ADL?
Also, "correct some of these problems" was "right these wrongs" in the prepared text — Obama feints, again.
10:05 — Biden needs to get with the Pelosi fitness plan, whatever it is. She’s much faster on her feet for standing ovations.
10:10 — Nuclear security, keeping nukes out of the arms of terroriists.
10:12 — "These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons. That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences. And that’s a promise."
Sounds tough? Maybe. But read between the lines: The focus is on Iran’s leaders. That could be code for sanctions targeting the leadership and the Revolutionary Guard — sanctions Obama hopes the U.N. Security Council will pass. But it could also mean he will resist the broader unilateral sanctions under consideration in Congress, that would target Iran’s energy sector.
10:17 — "Big issues into soundbites." Uh oh. I have met the enemy and he is me.
10:24 — Engel again! The man’s a human bookend. Very meta — Engel at the beginning, Engel at the end.