I think the Giffords shooting and subsequent speech had a huge impact on the whole event tonight.
President Obama's SOTU speech was about as safe as it could be in a partisan sense. That's the word that came to mind to me. He was big on examples of American ingenuity and made the case that we can overcome all the tough challenges we face. The Chamber had a weird vibe to it on TV with members of both parties sitting together like fifth graders with seating assignments as they made an effort not to over-clap the affair. The usual rousing ovations do inspire public speakers and performers as they progress and the audience in a way drained some of that energy.
The President called for more bipartisanship again and praised our creative exceptionalism, defended his health care bill and made education, innovation and some infrastructure building the keynote topics, He also spent much of his time on right wing issues like the debt, fixing the tax code, tort reform and government spending. He said his Cat Food commission was a good thing but that he wasn't going to use all their recommendations. I was happy that he didn't give the impression that Social Security was going to be destroyed by the deficit and needed to be fixed now. I'm sure the Villagers won't be happy with that.
The speech seemed to be targeted at the mythical independent voters more than usual. It didn't have the impact that a typical Obama speech has in my opinion, but CBS did a quick poll and 91% of Americans liked it.Oh, I was glad that he brought up the Dream Act again and said he was commited to immigration reform.
FOX News had on Krathhammer, who said he thought it was a weaker Obama speech than usual and attacked many of the points he made, but Kristen Powers and Juan Williams liked it a lot because he laid out a vision for the country. Brit Hume was galled that Obama didn't get into how we're going to fix the deficit and was irked that entitlements were virtually left out.
On the flip side Paul Ryan was just plain booooring and he looked kind of smarmy. His talking points focused on what you would expect, the deficit and government spending. He made no mention of his radical Roadmap plan to fix our economy, which would privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program, which basically would destroy many people's lives. That was odd, since it's his true vision for America, but it wasn't worthy to be brought to the American people on the biggest stage he ever had.
On CNN David Gergen's take on Ryan was that the speech was "lofty". What the hell does that mean? ErickE brought back the painful memory of Bobby Jindal. Candy Crowley thought Ryan helped the Republican Party because he wasn't Bush. If you have troubling sleeping, put the Ambien away and turn on Ryan's speech.
Hannity came on after the FOX All Star panel, which featured Frank Luntz and one of his dopey focus groups. It quickly turned into a shouting match with many of the participants calling the president a liar for much of the time.
Michele Bachmann was reading her short soliloquy on a teleprompter -- which she usually attacks Obama over -- but made a very bad technical mistake. It looked like she was speaking into the Tea Party camera and not CNN's, which gave it this freakishly creepy effect. Bad lighting and makeup didn't help her appearance either. If you saw it on CNN you wondered who she was talking to. Are you talking to me? She used many debunked talking points -- like those scary 16K IRS agents who are going to arrest you -- and had a handy chart about unemployment. She actually told President Obama to repeal his own health care plan. Erick Erickson said that her performance actually backed up Paul Ryan's speech. No, really. Ari Fleischer was there to back him up. Only in Red State world. They had got to try and mitigate the appearance of a split party and EE certainly had a plan in dealing with it. Remember, up is down and red is blue.
Insisting that she was not upstaging the official GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) offered a combative and highly misleading speech of her own following the president's address. In her "Tea Party Response," Bachmann repeated a litany of false right-wing talking points about everything from the Recovery Act and job losses to the debt and "16,500 IRS agents."...read on.