9 p.m. ET all across the dial. I shouldn’t say “instantly forgettable”: His aides say he’ll “throw down the gauntlet” to the GOP, and there’s always a chance that he’ll misrepresent a Supreme Court ruling with the justices sitting right there in front of him, so the memory of this one could linger for up to 45 minutes afterward. Not even his media fan club can feign interest beyond that. WaPo’s been preparing its readership all day for a giant nothingburger with next to no polling bounce afterward. National Journal, pulling no punches, headlines its SOTU coverage with a piece titled, “Expect to Hear an Absolutely Forgettable State of the Union Speech.” Even a livewire like Ted Nugent, faced with the enervating prospect of listening to The One run through an hourlong lecture about how “government” is just a word for things we do together, can’t muster any orneriness for the occasion. Sample quote from O’s speech:
Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.
David Brooks will love it but for the rest of us this will be grim. If you make it all the way through, congrats — you’re a hardcore political junkie. Treat yourself to a bumper sticker to that effect.
What to expect in tonight’s traditional policy laundry list? First, lots of lip service about jobs to remind the public that he really cares even though he’s spending 80 percent of his time these days on guns and immigration. (Obama’s current job approval on the economy, by the way: 45/49.) Next, an enthusiastic pitch for more gun control highlighted by a favorite tactic, pointing to shooting victims in the audience to remind you that you’re complicit in murder if you think Dianne Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban would be ineffective and constitutionally suspect. Third, the usual boilerplate about North Korea, albeit this time likely used as a tool to bash the GOP for supporting the defense sequester. Here too, if you don’t support O’s policy preference, you’re on the side of a lunatic with a lethal arsenal. And finally, there’ll be the sermon to comprehensive immigration reform, again with visual aids in the audience. Pay attention during this part, because if O can’t resist his instinct to demagogue Republicans at every opportunity, it could end up blowing up the bipartisan Senate proposal.
Speaking of which, go read the excerpts of Rubio’s SOTU rebuttal in the Greenroom. If you’ve ever seen a Rubio speech, you know what to expect: Sunny, heavy on biography, lots of talk about middle-class aspirations — essentially the Obama “hope and change” playbook from 2008. Most of America hasn’t seen a Rubio speech before, though, which is why this is a big chance to make a splash. In fact, this speech will reportedly be even sunnier than usual in order to draw a clearer contrast with President Grumpy’s predictable, tendentious Republican-bashing earlier in the evening. Sample quote: “Despite our differences, I know that both Republicans and Democrats love America.” If your cable net of choice isn’t carrying the speech, you can watch it live online after O’s at GOP.gov. As for Rand Paul’s tea-party rebuttal to Obama, I’m expecting plenty of talk about the debt — but I wasn’t expecting this:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will urge Republicans to embrace immigration reform in his Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
“We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future,” Paul will say according to excerpts. “We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you.'”
There are endless stories in online media today about the developing rivalry between Rubio and Paul. Who could have guessed that the latter would use his speech in part to give political cover to the former from the right on immigration?
You can watch Paul’s address after Rubio’s at TeaPartyExpress.org. The thread is open.