What to look for in SOTU Bingo tonight

posted at 2:20 pm on January 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union speech tonight, although not his first nationally-televised prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress.  Obama delivered that rare event in September when he wanted to move ObamaCare through Congress, and wound up offering an endorsement for an approach that had already lost favor with the electorate (the public option) and ultimately failed.  That takes some of the luster off of what normally is just a laundry list of administration wish lists and cheerleading at the best of times.  If he couldn’t move Congress with that high-profile cajoling, the SOTU speech isn’t likely to have much impact on the broader agenda, either.

What Obama needs to show in this speech is that he understands the priorities of the electorate.  His legislative agenda has convinced most of us that Obama lost touch with the economic crisis after passing Porkulus.  While he claims that his program has saved or created two million jobs, more than 3.4 million disappeared in 2009.  Furthermore, there have been no signs of any reversal in the trend.  If he doesn’t get back on top of the crisis and hit jobs jobs jobs repeatedly, voters will conclude that he’s simply more concerned about himself and his policy hobby horses than in the country itself.

So expect to hear a lot about job creation and stimulation.  If Obama spends less than 10% of his speech on jobs, expect an immediate backlash among the commentariat, both Right and Left.

On other issues:

  • Spending freeze – Expect Obama to start declaring himself a deficit hawk and highlight his spending freeze.  He’ll also declare himself in favor of a bipartisan commission to reduce the deficit that he himself inflated.  His commission idea ended on a bipartisan vote to block cloture yesterday, but he’ll blame Republicans for being hypocritical on fighting runaway spending.
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – According to multiple sources, Obama will call for an end to DADT.  He needs to throw a bone to his Left, which has erupted in outrage over the spending freeze and were already unhappy over Afghanistan.  The administration has leaked a number of pro-military stories over the past few days (learning to salute, more money for assistance to military families, etc) in order to gird their flank on this.  However, according to Mark Knoller at CBS, the White House has not changed its position that Congress needs to pass an end to DADT as legislation rather than Obama abolishing it in an EO.  In the end, this will be a nothingburger, since Congress isn’t going to pass any such bill in an election year, and Obama won’t push it for the same reason.  (My thoughts on DADT are here.)
  • Afghanistan and Iraq – Obama will claim credit for any successes possible and once again refer to the orderly withdrawal from Iraq as his achievement.  He will have to address the skeptical Left in this passage and make the case for continued American involvement.  My guess is that this will be the part of SOTU that Republicans will like best.
  • Health care – So far, all indications are that Obama will demand action on health-care reform this year.  He’s not likely to get it.  Obama is also likely to steer clear of specifics (again) in order to maintain his distance from the disorderly mess into which ObamaCare disintegrated over the past few weeks.
  • Cap and trade – The Copenhagen meeting was a disaster, and cap-and-trade legislation is a dead letter while jobs continue to disappear.  Obama will likely reiterate his emphasis on alternative, renewable energy resources, although without the skim from C&T, funding for them will be hard to find, especially when Obama gets in deficit-hawk mode.  In fact, he may just decide to stick with energy policy as an overall concept and skip talk of C&T, although that’s probably a long shot.
  • Immigration – He’ll definitely hit this, as part of his strategy to split Republicans ahead of the midterms. One problem he’ll have is that the health-care reform direction Democrats took will now impact on this topic as well, which will make it hard to get John McCain and Lindsey Graham on board — because an eventual public option and Medicaid expansion will be a lot more expensive.  It’s more likely to fire up the Tea Party crowd even more than they are now.
  • Haiti – If Obama’s smart, he’ll spend a significant amount of time on this topic.  Most Americans support his rescue efforts, and this is an easy nonpartisan bell to ring.
  • Accomplishments – Expect to hear a lot about Lily Ledbetter again, and the gauzy notion that he has “restored our standing in the world,” all indications to the contrary notwithstanding.  He’ll also claim credit for two million jobs “saved or created,” mainly because he won’t be able to resist it.

Robert Gibbs told the National Journal that this would not be a “reset” speech:

But White House aides bristle at the notion that the speech is a chance to hit “reset” after a troubled first year in office. Gibbs insists “you’ll find a remarkable amount of similarity” between what Obama is doing today and what he promised in the campaign and in 2009.

After losing so much ground with voters, a big bottle of Boone’s Farm Hope & Change 2008 isn’t going to cut it — but it’s probably what we can expect.

I’ll be live-tweeting the SOTU speech, and my feed will be one of 20 followed by CBS News at their SOTU coverage site.  Be sure to follow along!

Update: Heck, I completely forgot my suggestion for SOTU Bingo.  How about this: every time Obama talks about taking a courageous stand in demanding something both stupid and unpopular be done (like ObamaCare), drain your glass and refill.  Otherwise, I’d follow Jonah Goldberg’s game rules:

Every time Obama suggests there’s a consensus among experts about a proposal when there isn’t, drink. Every time he claims to be aligned with the populist backlash he created, drink. Every time he suggests that History with a capital H demands that we do whatever it is he’s talking about, drink. Every time he says that he’s being  “pragmatic” or “bipartisan” when he’s actually being wildly ideological or partisan, drink. And so on.

Make mine a double.  See you on Twitter!

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Mark30339 on January 27, 2010 at 5:35 PM

A rather appropriate Freudian tendency…

Rightwingguy on January 27, 2010 at 5:48 PM

Bless all of you can stomach watching this.

I’ll be watching Big Ten basketball and reading the hotair recaps.

gophergirl on January 27, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Hey there- I am SOOO torn- I can’t decide whether to play the Bingo game- I already printed out all five cards or whether to play the drinking game- will be incoherent within the first 10 minutes no doubt , then again, I, like you am having trouble getting my arms around the idea of watching/listening to this empty headed lame excuse for a President… I have decided I will down a pregame Dr. Pepper bomb to salute the fine voters of Massachusetts as suggested earlier in the thread and maybe follow along her at HA!

huskerdiva on January 27, 2010 at 6:16 PM

What’s the over/under on self-referential (ie. I, me, my, etc.) language?

NTropy on January 27, 2010 at 6:20 PM

SuperCool on January 27, 2010 at 3:24 PM

I like.

If some one hollers ‘You Lie’…holy cow…Best SOTU EVER!!!

BigWyo on January 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

I’m looking for one single, solitary modicum of truth.

I don’t have my hopes up.

daesleeper on January 27, 2010 at 6:46 PM

My computer isn’t in the same room as the television, so I won’t be able to post my reactions and comments live like many here will.
So I thought that I’d post my comments now in order to feel like part of the community.

-“God, I hate that guy.”
-“I can’t wait until Pelosi is no longer Speaker, so I don’t have to look at that goofy face during these things.”
-“Blatant lie!”
-“How can he just lie like that?!”
-“Jaysus, what a liar!” “Does anyone believe this clown?”
-“Rangel shouldn’t be at the SOTU address.” “He should be in jail!”
-“Communist liar!”
-“I can’t stand it. How could anyone have voted for this POS?”
-“Right, it’s all Bush’s fault, you lying boob!!”
-“What a dirtbag!”
-“Holy crap, this guy is such a lying moron!!!”
-“I can’t take it anymore. I’m getting a beer. You need anything from the kitchen while I’m up?”
-“Freaking liar!”
-“Pelosi looks like an idiot when she jumps up like that.”
“Gotta go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
“It’s over? Thank God!”

justltl on January 27, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Dude. Did anyone catch the SOTU … drinking game?


One Angry Christian on January 27, 2010 at 7:07 PM

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi is going to do her Jack in the Box impersonation again. Or is she too PO’d at the TOTUS also?

IrishEi on January 27, 2010 at 7:30 PM

I am so excited, I was called by the Rasmussen auto phone polling about an hour ago. I told them I was an INDEPENDENT. That was the only thing I deliberately answered wrong. I knew it would give my answers more punch!!

Anyway, it asked for demographics, age, sex, income level, race. Answered truthfully except for the income level. I accidentally hit the button before my income level, but that is ok, it put me more in the upper middle income level instead of the higher one.

It askwed the right track, wrong track. Of course I strongly disagreed that obummer was doing a good job. It asked my opinion if we were winning the war on terror or the terrorists were. I had to say us at thing point. It didn’t ask if I thought the terrorists would be getting an upper hand, but it did ask if I thought we were less safe now that a year ago. Of course I had to say the policies made us less safe. It asked which country was the biggest threat. Gave several options, Iran, Irag, Afg, N. Kor, Pakistan, etc. I just settled for Iran, I think their leader is the craziest and less contained than the gargoyle in N. Korea.

It asked if I thought we should reduce the deficit or cut spending. Of course I had to say cut spending because that was a tricky way to think people were open to raising taxes to get the deficit down. Then in the top issues of the day, was it terrorism, spending, etc. I had to do with the spending, although I still believe the terrorism thing is way up there. There were several questions dancing around whether the government really was out of control of the people and working against our interests at this point. It was interesting.

But I am excited that at least I got to answer a poll, particularly at a point where this is going to be published in the next day or two.

karenhasfreedom on January 27, 2010 at 7:33 PM

I made my whiskey run earlier, am now settling down with a pizza and whiskey–think I will have to get a head start before I can bring myself to look at his face….

lovingmyUSA on January 27, 2010 at 7:41 PM

karenhasfreedom – thanks for sharing your experience of being polled. Interesting questions. I would love to be polled – meanwhile living vicariously through you.

Not planning to watch the SOTU (can’t abide being lied to in real time), but do plan on watching Gov. McDonnell respond online at http://www.soturesponse.com/

perries on January 27, 2010 at 8:00 PM

That is – the SOTU response will be streamed at:

perries on January 27, 2010 at 8:01 PM

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi is going to do her Jack in the Box impersonation again.
IrishEi on January 27, 2010 at 7:30 PM

Pelosi in the Box

justltl on January 27, 2010 at 8:18 PM

Pelosi in the Box

justltl on January 27, 2010 at 8:18 PM

Hah! Love it.

IrishEi on January 27, 2010 at 8:44 PM

synopsis of tonights speach… YOU LIE!!!

M-14 2go on January 27, 2010 at 8:53 PM