AUTHOR: Slublog DATE: 2/02/2005 08:32:00 PM ----- BODY: State of the Union - The president's speech is just over 20 minutes away, and I'll be liveblogging it in this post. Until then, it's the bad singers of "American Idol," my guilty pleasure every week. 9:01 - And so it begins. The Supreme Court justices are entering the chamber now. I'm watching C-Span's coverage, because there's no extraneous talking. 9:03 - I can see that Blogger is going to be fussy tonight, so this could be a short liveblog. Just to warn you... 9:05 - "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States." Bet that never gets old. 9:08 - First John Kerry shot. C-SPAN's producers just aren't nice. 9:10 - Starts right out by mentioning Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine and Iraq. Good way to tie the countries together - democracy in action. 9:11 - Wow. Ted Kennedy looks like a wart with hair and glasses. That probably wasn't nice, but he really doesn't look good. 9:14 - Talking about cutting spending and taxes. Democrats are sitting, not clapping. Guess they like keeping our money. 9:15 - Tort reform. Democrats hate the idea, it seems. 9:17 - Bet the guy who clapped prematurely feels really dumb. "Hey, cool, yeah...uh...(sits down sheepishly)" 9:19 - Energy. This is going to be interesting. Susan Collins isn't clapping for his plans there. At least, I think that's Collins. Red or blue suits - that's all she wears, so it's a safe assumption. 9:20 - TAX REFORM!! Man, I hope he's able to pass that. Even the Democrats are standing for that one, so it may have a chance. 9:21 - Immigration. This is going to upset some on the right, but it's a pragmatic approach to a growing problem. 9:22 - Social Security reform. I really wish the Republicans would stop clapping every third sentence. I'm with them politically, but it's getting kind of annoying. 9:24 - Promised adults 55 and older that Social Security would not change. Good plan. Now speaking to younger workers...sounding okay so far. He's giving the facts on the issue - excellent approach. Showing the problem in stark tones. "Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in." This is exactly what we need on this issue - facts in the debate rather than the hysterics of AARP and Harry Reid. 9:25 - Democrats are starting to groan. Literally. I think the president should stop his speech and offer them a nice tall glass of shut the heck up. 9:26 - Bringing up the options - from both sides of the aisle. Saying all of the ideas are on the table. Excellent. 9:27 - Frank Lautenberg has a great embalmer. (Criminy I'm in a mood tonight...) 9:28 - Voluntary personal retirement accounts. Sign me up. The Democrats are staying seated for this one. 9:30 - I guess democrats don't think I should get what they get. Let me eat cake, I suppose. 9:31 - FMA. Not a big fan, myself. "Culture of life." It's a phrase he's used before, but it's a good one. 9:34 - Hitting the Democrats on judges now. I want to see some reaction shots of the Democrats...there we go...stone faces and no applause. 9:36 - Laura never looks comfortable being pointed out. At least the Democrats applauded her. Just asked for support of the "Ryan White" act for AIDS. 9:38 - Looks like the foreign policy part of the speech is beginning. 9:40 - "We will stay on the offensive against them until the fight is won..." So there, Ted. Some of the Democrats didn't stand or clap for that one. Do they want us to lose the war on terror, or are they just asleep? 9:42 - Repeating lines from the inaugural. Not all of the Dems are applauding/standing for the human freedom line. Weird. 9:45 - This is a pretty good speech so far. Maybe it's the liveblogging, but the minutes seem to have flown by. Wow. Katherine Harris is wearing a ferret on her neck. A purple one. 9:46 - "Secretary of State Rice." Cool. Hey, if she leaves tomorrow, won't she miss the Super Bowl? 9:47 - Just threw down the gauntlet to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He really does want to change the Middle East. 9:49 - "America stands with you." I really hope this speech is heard in Iran. 9:50 - Purple fingers in the audience. Will people get the symbolism, I wonder. 9:52 - "They have earned the respect of us all." 9:53 - "That was the real occupation." So shut the heck up, Ted. Mystery guest number one revealed - human rights activist from Iraq. 9:56 - "We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq." 9:59 - He's on a roll here. Reading part of a letter from a mom of a Marine. Getting a bit emotional. Janet and Bill Norwood are getting the applause of the Congress. A lot of it. 10:02 - "Threads of purpose that unite us." Nice line. "It leads to freedom." And it's over. Excellent speech. Optimistic, determined, detailed. 10:05 - Just switched over to Fox News. The president is leaving the chamber, doing the meet and greet, pulling out the Sharpie for autographs. It was one of his better State of the Union speeches. The moment of the Iraqi woman embracing the mother of the Marine was moving. --------