I live-blogged the State of the Union address and the Republican response this evening on the Off on a Tangent live coverage page. This was my first attempt at a live blog, so it was definitely an experimental trial-run (and a first technical test of my simple live coverage platform, which I intend to use for other events in the future).

The transcript of the live blog is included below (with some minor formatting added).

Pre-Show

  • 7:15pm: Live coverage will begin shortly before the State of the Union address starts around 9:00 p.m. EST, and will continue through the speech and the Republican response.
  • 8:25pm: Still a bit over a half-hour out. Members of Congress, and presumably other government officials, are gathering at the Capitol. C-SPAN coverage has already commenced.
  • 8:26pm: Always a fun night of political pageantry; pay attention to who sits where, and who applauds what.
  • 8:29pm: State of the Union addresses are one of the rare instances where all three branches of the federal government get together. The speech occurs in the chamber of the House of Representatives, and will be attended by most of the House and Senate, a majority of Supreme Court justices, the president, and the Vice President.
  • 8:31pm: The attending members of the U.S. Senate are now gathering to process across the Capitol building to the House chamber.
  • 8:36pm: Each State of the Union address (and similar events) has a ‘designated survivor.’ Because so many officials are gathered in one place, somebody in the line of presidential succession does not attend (and is kept at a secret location) so that they would be able to take up the reigns of the government if a catastrophe occurs. The designated survivor this year is Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
  • 8:38pm: Members of the U.S. Senate are now processing across the building toward the House chamber, being led by Vice President (and President of the Senate) Joe Biden.
  • 8:40 p.m.: The House of Representatives has been called to order, and Senators are now entering the chamber.
  • 8:43pm: Sitting behind President Barack Obama (D) during the speech will be Vice President Joe Biden (D), in his capacity as President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH 8th).
  • 8:45pm: President Obama has left the White House and is now in-transit toward the Capitol building.
  • 8:47pm: Once again, I really recommend C-SPAN for coverage of the State of the Union address and Republican response. The ‘talking heads’ only talk when nothing else is happening, and they are much less partisan than most of their cable brethren.
  • 8:50 p.m.: I wish, just once, somebody would wear jeans to something like this. It’s all suits, dresses, pantsuits, and uniforms.
  • 8:52pm: President Obama has arrived at the Capitol building. The speech is expected to begin in about eight minutes.
  • 8:56pm: Members of Congress are wearing black and white ribbons in solidarity with the victims of the Tucson, Arizona, shootings earlier this month, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ 8th).
  • 8:58pm: Government officials from outside of the legislative branch are now being announced and led into the House chamber, including members of the diplomatic corps. and the Supreme Court. Also, First Lady Michelle Obama is now in the chamber.
  • 8:59pm: The President’s cabinet is now entering the chamber (excluding, as previously mentioned, ‘designated survivor’ Salazar).
  • 9:05pm: Still no indication of anybody wearing jeans (or jeggings). Nobody thinks outside of the box anymore.
  • 9:05pm: President Barack Obama is now entering the House chamber.
  • 9:08pm: The president is running the typically absurd gauntlet of handshakes and hugs on his way to the podium.

State of the Union Address

  • 9:09pm: He finally makes it to the podium, shaking hands with Messrs. Biden and Boehner.
  • 9:10 p.m.: Speaker Boehner gives the introduction, and it begins. . . .
  • 9:12pm: President Obama begins with a kind congrats for the new Congress, and the new Speaker, followed immediately by a tasteful statement about Representative Giffords’ empty chair.
  • 9:15pm: With due respect for the president, I find this kind of saccharine sweetness about unity and bipartisanship quite artificial after two of the most partisan years I’ve ever seen . . . I hope it’s more than just words this time around.
  • 9:16pm: “We are poised for progress . . . ” “The economy is growing again . . . ”  . . . ?
  • 9:18pm: A nice recognition of the fact that the world has changed from life-long careers with one company followed by a pension into something else entirely; no judgement call on it yet.
  • 9:20 p.m.: This is what I’ve been saying all along; competition from China (and others) isn’t a reason for protectionism, it’s a challenge to be faced head-on.
  • 9:21pm: Am I the only one who thinks that both Biden and Boehner are wearing somewhat effeminate ties?
  • 9:22pm: “We have to make America the best place in the world to do business . . . ” Amen. And did the president just say that we need to control the deficit? I agree, but he personally quadrupled it!
  • 9:24pm: “Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation . . . ,” but government can be a catalyst for development. Obama is linking our current challenges to a ‘Sputnik moment,’ a catalyst for major technological improvements in energy and elsewhere.
  • 9:25pm: Typical feel-good success stories, with a government twist . . . although the gentleman they were showing was shaking his head ‘no’ at Obama’s energy proposal. Hm.
  • 9:26pm: “Instead of subsiding yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s . . . “
  • 9:29pm: Obama is pointing out the very serious problems with our education system, but, as usual, isn’t proposing any concrete way of dealing with it. Nobody ever has solutions to our educational problems.
  • 9:32pm: Another typically meaningless anecdote about one school, with no logical tie-in to any of our other schools.
  • 9:33pm: Always fun to watch the political opposition trying to decide when to stand and applaud, and when not to.
  • 9:35pm: The woman on screen now is mouthing “that’s me” to her neighbors as Obama tells her story. Cute.
  • 9:37pm: The tough topic of children of illegal immigrants. Good for President Obama for even discussing it. “I strongly believe we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration.”
  • 9:38pm: “Our own engineers . . . rated our infrastructure as a D. We must do better.” Indeed.
  • 9:40 p.m.: As nice as high speed rail sounds, I’m still not convinced it’s any of government’s business. After all, our original rail and road systems were all built by private companies. And Obama’s TSA pat-down joke is more offensive than it is funny.
  • 9:42pm: Obama rightly calls out our broken tax system, which penalizes some companies but has loopholes for others . . . and he calls for a lowering of the corporate tax rate. Sounds like a good idea to me, but tax reform plans never seem to go anywhere (Bush proposed tax reform over and over and even his own party wouldn’t take it up).
  • 9:43pm: Calling for support of a South Korea free trade agreement. Sounds good to me! Free trade benefits all parties.
  • 9:45pm: Tricky tricky, slipping the health care debacle into a list of other bills that actually did good things for the people.
  • 9:47pm: Mr. President, we don’t need to band-aid the health care reform bill, we need to repeal it and pass a new one. Keep the handful of good elements of the bill and build a new one in the public square like you promised. Digging-in on this is politically nuts.
  • 9:48pm: “Now that the recession is over” it’s time to address the deficit. No, the time to address the deficit was eight years ago and every year since. The proposed five-year freeze on discretionary spending is something, but we need a reduction in spending not a freeze in its growth.
  • 9:49pm: Worst metaphor ever . . .
  • 9:51pm: When Republicans brought up medical malpractice reform last year, Obama shot it down. Now he thinks it’s a great idea. Amazing what electoral losses can do for bipartisanship!
  • 9:53pm: “It’s not about punishing” the rich for being successful, but that’s exactly what progressive tax systems do . . . by definition! “Now is the time to act” to reform our absurd tax code and rein-in the deficit. I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • 9:55pm: Simplifying the government bureaucracy . . . now you’re talking sense! Another good idea decades overdue.
  • 9:56pm: Obama promises to veto any bill that comes across his desk with earmarks in it. I’m pretty sure that was one of John McCain’s campaign promises. Again, great idea. I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • 9:57pm: “America’s moral example must always shine . . . “
  • 9:59pm: “The Iraq war is coming to an end.”
  • 10:00 p.m.: This would be more fun in the style of the U.K. House of Commons’ Prime Minister’s Questions.
  • 10:01pm: Again, with all due respect for the president, he just doesn’t seem all that convincing to me when he tries to talk tough to the terrorists.
  • 10:02pm: We stand against Iran and North Korea in their drive for weapons of mass destruction, great, but what are we actually doing about it?
  • 10:04pm: “The United States . . . supports the democratic aspirations of all people.”
  • 10:05pm: Excellent words of respect and honor for our armed forces, followed by the lengthiest standing ovation of the night. God bless them.
  • 10:06pm: “Nobody will be stopped from serving the country they love because of who they love.” Moderately clever. Followed, rightfully, with a demand that our colleges welcome back the ROTC and recruiting programs they exiled over disagreement with the absurd ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policies.
  • 10:09pm: Again, Obama complaining about totalitarian, statists governments and their blithely doing whatever the leaders want without any popular input . . . well, it felt like he was describing the 111th Congress to me.
  • 10:10 p.m.: Nice call-out for Speaker Boehner and his humble beginnings. Don’t get all teary-eyed now, John ;-).
  • 10:12pm: If I hear “dared to dream” and its variants one more time, I’m going to puke!
  • 10:13pm: “The state of our union is strong,” as always. “May God bless the United States of America.” President Obama has left the podium. His speech ran for about seventy minutes.
  • 10:16pm: Pretty typical State of the Union; nothing too earth-shattering or new here. I’m looking forward to seeing these deficit-reduction ideas getting put into action, and the reorg. of the federal bureaucracy should be interesting.

Republican Response

  • 10:20 p.m.: Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) will be delivering the official Republican Party response to the State of the Union address shortly. Live coverage will continue.
  • 10:24pm: C-SPAN seems to know something I don’t; Ryan’s response should be starting momentarily.
  • 10:25pm: Representative Ryan is beginning the Republican response.
  • 10:26pm: Like Obama, Ryan begins with a touching mention of Representative Giffords who is still recovering from her wounds.
  • 10:27pm: “We want to work with the president to restrain federal spending.” “We face a crushing burden of debt.”
  • 10:29pm: It seems to be ‘effeminate tie night’ in Congress.
  • 10:29pm: Nice to hear somebody speaking truth about the malformed health care bill; we need reform, but this reform is already pushing premiums higher and people are already being forced to change to worse, more affordable plans.
  • 10:31pm: “We believe that government’s role is both vital, and limited . . . “
  • 10:33pm: “Endless borrowing is not a strategy . . . ” Ryan’s point is key: debt can, and will, destroy this country if we don’t get it under control. It sounds alarmist . . . it would be if it weren’t true.
  • 10:36pm: Ryan has completed the official Republican response to the State of the Union address. Only about ten minutes in length, Ryan focused entirely on limited government, restraining spending, and eliminating our crushing public debt. It would be insightful if it wasn’t so obvious.
  • 10:38pm: President Obama has left the Capitol and is on his way back to the White House.
  • 10:40 p.m.: For the record, I really hate the opposition responses. They are always painfully artificial in style, especially since they have no audience reaction. Nothing against Representative Ryan or his speech specifically, I just think the tradition needs work.
  • 10:43pm: Off on a Tangent live coverage is now concluded. Thanks for joining us!