Good evening, everybody, and welcome to your liveblog of the State Of The Union address. Tonight's address is a historic moment (or, if you prefer, "an historic moment") because tonight's address will be the eighth and last celebration of the oratorical skills of our President, George W. Bush. Tonight, at last, when Dick Cheney promises cake and ice cream after the speech, he'll probably get it, instead of the steady diet of stern, neocon rebukes he's been subject to for the past eight years. Also, Dubya can start counting down the days to the moment where he can officially go back on the sauce and live out his years as if he were the main character in a Will Ferrell comedy.
What can we say about tonight's speech? Rumor has it that he'll say something nice about Nancy Pelosi, and, perhaps, even make out with her. Maybe there will be mention of some terrorists or something! As usual, if you've decided to take a drink every time he says the name "Osama bin Laden," prepare yourself for a long evening of sobriety and crushing anxiety. But this is to be the last Bush SOTU, and so, the end of an era (though as Wonkette warns, the Washington Post has decided to either hedge their bets or provide "balance" for people who ideologically support the idea that Bush should install himself as Supreme Leader of the United Freedoms of Terrorhaters, like he was Musharraf or something! We say: Take off your uniform, Mr. President!)
We've reached out to friends, colleagues and the people who deliver Chinese food to our apartment to give us their favorite misty watercolored memories of Bush SOTU's past. Would you like to share your memories, sentiments or deeply held grievances? Feel free to send an email and let us know. And now, on with the show!
The sergeant-at-arms announced the entrance of the President, sparing MSNBC's audience from further discussion of Chris Matthews' career highlights (administrative assistant to Tip O'Neill! Towel boy for the Washington Generals!). Bush comes into the room, followed closely by Boehner, who's losing the race between he and Charlie Crist to the skin cancer ward. We have out first man-on-man action! Chris Shays gives Bush a kiss, then some other dude drapes himself around his waist. Sheila Jackson Lee's hair is a mighty structure of elegance and strength. Obama and Ted Kennedy are out there, demostrating how they've totally grown close after adding each other to their MySpace accounts.
Bush is giving manila envelopes to Cheney and Pelosi. Maybe they contain new MacBook Airs! Way to stimulate that retail economy, Rich People! Nancy is looking lovely in lavender, Cheney has on a dark blue suit woven from the tears of Iraqi children.
Here we go! Say the state of the union is strong! Say it's strong! Say it's strong! Oooh. He said "rostrum!" Impressive.
History will say that we acted with purpose, Bush says, doing the people's business. Which I guess includes threatening the people's business with filibusters, caving in, making excuses, and buying everyone off with a tax rebate. Incumbency all around!
"Let us show that we can meet our responsibilities." This just now occurred to him, i guess.
Now he's babbling on about how we need to trust ordinary people. You know, the same ordinary people who voted for him twice and then celebrated by getting themselves stuck in a bunch of terrible mortgages. Jobs are NOW growing at a slower pace, he says. Concern is mounting. And we can be sure that eventually, the economy will work itself out, but in the "short term" we're screwed, so DON'T LOAD UP OUR PRECIOUS AND MAGICAL BIPARTISAN stimulus bill. You know, like you always do! I'd love to see Chris Dodd or someone stick a timetable for Iraq amendment on it myself, but then, I don't think Bush should be allowed to accept a collect call without first agreeing to a timetable for Iraq.
Now Bush is begging Congress to make his tax cuts permanent, and there's a long, lingering shot of Charles Rangel as he talks about how "some people" don't think his tax cuts are sound policy. That's right! EXPLAIN YOURSELF, CHARLES RANGEL!
Hillary Clinton isn't happy, listening to George Bush crack wise about how the IRS accepts checks and money orders. He then says he will veto any increase in taxes.
Here's the first ever mention of the notion that conservatism entailed curbing wasteful spending: Bush's budget will eliminate $18 billion worth of wasteful programs, like protecting blue-staters from terrorist attacks and stuff. "American families have to balance their budgets, and so should their Government." That's right, American people! They learned it from you! They learned it from watching you.
Earmarks! They're snuck in at the last minute, like a NSA wiretap or something! So no more of those earmarks! They're gonna get VETOED. And he's going to issue some decree or something to that effect, ordering the government to ignore earmarks like they do administration email caches.
Bush's weak tea with regards to health care involves getting patients "better information." Like: you are sick, you can't afford to get well, so you are going to die because we won't be treating you.
We must confront the epidemic of "junk medical lawsuits!" Because those are really killing people.
"No one can deny the results of No Child Left Behind?" Oh, no? Here's my wife, public school employee, denying away: "How about some schools have had to forego federal funding altogether! Some states have had to forego federal funding altogether. We have a national teacher shortage crisis. So if Bush defines success as the public school system being slowly strangled to death, then, WOOPEEDOO! Success!"
Bush says he'll convene a summit to bring more crazy, unaccountable, faith-based schools to inner cities.
"We will embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere." That's like, a record number of multisyllable words!
Barbara Mikulski is catching up on some light reading!
Now here comes the section on energy security! Bring on the switchgrass! Burn the woodchips! We will end our addiction to foreign oil by huddling around the fire I've built on brush I've cleared from my ranch! I've cleared a lot in the past eight years! We'll make s'mores, America.
"Greenhouse gases!" Everybody stand! Green is universal! I want a Nobel Prize, too.
Congress didn't follow through on funding the Competitiveness Initiative? Next thing you'll tell me is that they refused to fund the America is Awesome Act or the Awareness Award of American Achievement In the Field Of Excellence!
Human life will not be bought or sold or cloned or patented! Or processed, pureed, frapped or made into a delicious smoothie!
Many of his nominees are being delayed. Probably because they're racist crazies, but oh well.
Have all faiths been treated equally by the government's faith-based welfare? I'm betting not!
Hey! Bush will be bringing some sort of North American economic summit-slash-panderfest to New Orleans. This pleases Mary Landrieu. Know what else pleases Landrieu? BRIBES!
Now we get into immigration. Bush will deploy fences and has ended "catch and release." Wasn't that a Jennifer Garner movie? Oooh. Now he's getting really upset at what a cock-up the illegal immigration policy debate has been. Unfortunately, members of his own party want to draw and quarter him on that issue.
Iraqis and their ink-stained fingers have inspired him. More blue ink for the Middle East! Blue ink will cure everything.
9-11!! At last! Drink!
"Yet in this war on terror, there is one thing we and our enemies agree on." Uhm...both sides seem to prefer aggressively stupid people dictating American foreign policy!
"And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom." Like a hot, sticky patch of dengue fever!
Now he's talking about Afghanistan: "Defeating the Taliban and al Qaida is critical to our security." DefeatING? I thought we had already DEFEATED the Taliban. Now you admit that this process is ongoing? "One year ago, our enemies were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos. So we reviewed our strategy and changed course." Yes, we stood back and let factionalized ethnic cleansing to transform Iraqi neighborhoods. Great job! Political reconciliation, much? Strong central government, yet? No? Oh, well, we can review that after the end of the John McCain Century of Iraq Bloodshed. By the way, I hope I'll be long dead by then!
"When we met last year, militia extremists -- some armed and trained by Iran -- were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq." And now, the havoc is blooming in Kurdistan, with Turkey, who we're inviting into Iraq as if we were the ones in charge and Iraq wasn't a sovereign nation. "When we met last year, al Qaida had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country." And now, they're safely ensconced in Pakistan, killing political leaders.
Osama bin Laden is mentioned! Drink, America! Drink for all you are worth!
"When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of "return on success," and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home." That's the way this is being sold, anyway.
"And tonight in this hallowed chamber, with the American people as our witness, we make you a solemn pledge: In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our Nation." As long as you are healthy and can continue to protect our nation, anyway. Bush isn't so keen on promising the troops much once they come home, maimed and sick and traumatized.
"Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy." That strategy: sticking the Democrats with the blame for the war. 20,000 troops are coming home, because the military HAS NO OTHER CHOICE.
Next, Bush insists that the process of reconciliation is proceeding apace, but his proof of this is a piddling pension law and and agreement to un- or de- or reun- or unde-Ba'athify the government, which, as it turns out, isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Now we get to the part where Bush speaks to us as if we were a bunch of two-year olds: "But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed." Really? That is so GROUNDBREAKING, oh, wise Solon of Crawford, Texas! Also: a failed Iraq would be bad! We had no idea! Thanks for making it clear, Prez! Next time, just send me a rebus or a cave painting so that your brave ideas about success being good and failure being bad can permeate my skull, and so I can teach the rest of the cavepeople!
"This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year." ME WANTY LEGACY!
"Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom." So, don't be offended when Bill Kristol and Dick Cheney bomb the crap out of you! Okay! It's all their idea! I'm just a pawn in their sick, sick game. Seriously, though, I'd move, because we are SO bombing you.
OMG! Bush saved the tallest building in Los Angeles! And the largest ball of twine in America! And that car version of Stonehenge!
We need tools to fight terrorists! Like wiretaps on the DLC's phones and stuff! Stop suggesting that we need more than fifty people in the FBI who speak Arabic. And why are all the Farsi translators gay? We can't have the homosexuals saving America!
Now that the genocide in Sudan is basically over, Bush is against it. Good news, dead Darfurians! Get up and dance! Dance!
The camera lingers on a woman in African ethnic garb, because she doesn't have AIDS. Great job, Mr. President!
What is Natalie Merchant doing at the State of the Union?
Now he's praising the Articles of Confederation or something! "I will see to it that terrorists do not get ahold of the Magna Carta or the Gutenberg Bible! I'm asking Congress to fund an attempt to claim the Ark of the Covenant as my very own! My enemies shall have their faces melted off!"
OMG? Is this thing ending? This wasn't a very exciting State of the Union address! Seriously? That's it? Everyone's sort of standing around!
Someone better queue up "Don't Stop Believing!" Serve some onion rings! Cut away to Jenna Bush attempting to parallel park her car!
Is that all there is? At the end of eight years, is that all we get?
Wait...don't answer that. I already know the answer.