Gabby Giffords makes her second to last appearance in Congress. She’s walked in to cheers by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of her closest friends in the chamber.
In walks President Obama, Eric Cantor behind him.
He gets the traditional greeting from Eliot Engel, standing alongside his GOP SOTU buddy, Jean Schmidt.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer — the Jewish Supremes!– stand together.
Big Obama hug for Giffords.
First standing ovation is for the troops. Both sides applaud the reference to the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Opens with a nod to the troops (noting Iraq withdrawal), goes straight into the economy.
Cantor frowns when Obama gets applause from Democrats urging Congress to send him tax reforms that would target businesses that take manufacturing jobs overseas. Cantor’s look is not because of the policy, I don’t think, but because the theme of the speech is obstruction — and the congressional GOP says most of it has come from the White House.
"American energy." He says he’ll open up more American oil resources. And they laughed at Sarah Palin for saying drill, baby, drill.
Clean energy. Wind turbines. (This is music to the ears of pro-Israel groups that want to lessen dependence on Middle Eastern oil.)
Implicit nod to the Solyndra controversy: "Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy."
Climate change won’t happen, he says, during this Congress (when did he try?) but he advances clean energy proposals:
I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.
Okay, I may be wrong — Cantor may have a light shining in his eye, hence the frown. He held it while applauding the proposed payroll tax cut.
More than an hour in, Obama comes back to foreign policy.
As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators – a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can’t be reversed, and that human dignity can’t be denied.
This gets a full chamber standing ovation.
The following comes with a close-up of Joe Lieberman, applauding:
Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.
And this gets a Chuck Schumer shot:
Our iron-clad — and I mean iron-clad — commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.
He closes with the bin Laden raid — let’s work together the way the Navy SEAL team did.