Friday, January 21, 2011

Today's State of the SOTU

With the State of the Union now just four days out, the pre-speech buzz is really picking up. Here are some of the developments and discussion we're following.
  • The bipartisan seating push is almost reaching critical mass. There has been no official desegregation decree from Congressional leaders, but a steadily growing number of Members and delegations are taking matters into their own hands. Likening the rush of bipartisan dates being scheduled to prom night, the Wall Street Journal reports that moderate Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have made plans to sit together, as are Illinois Senators Dick Durbin (D) and Mark Kirk (R). Going a step further, the entire Colorado House and Senate delegations -- led by Senator Mark Udall, who has been the driving force behind  desegregation -- has committed to watch as a group.
  • The bipartisan seating push has gotten enough currency to warrant its own New York Times editorial. As the headline ("Beyond the Happy Visuals") suggests, the Grey Lady is not exactly enthusiastic about the notion. "It’s a lovely idea, intended to show that ideological divisions do not require personal rancor. But it is essentially a gesture to the cameras, and it should not obscure what remains a wide and fundamentally deep aisle between the parties."
  • Politics Daily has come up with an interesting way to set the context for this year's SOTU, offering a dissection of the state of the public's mind on the eve of the big speech and a summation of what lawmakers would hear from their constituents if they were the ones speechifying. Our favorite: "We also don't like the way you talk to each other and deal with each other, and frankly, we're tired of listening to it. Watching you is like spending a day with Frank and Estelle Costanza. 
  • Turning to the speech itself, NPR reports today that President Obama is under some pressure to make a big, debate-changing statement about the economy. "He knows and the American people know that we're not out of the woods economically yet — that we have an enormous challenge of growth of jobs on the one hand and of long-term fiscal stability on the other. And that is going to put pressure on the president to go big and go long," says former Clinton Domestic Policy Advisor Bill Galston.  
  • If you're looking for a little comic relief on speech night, and Wolf Blitzer just doesn't cut it, you're now in luck.  Comedy Central announced it will be live blogging the event.  You can find the funny business -- at least the intentional stuff -- here.  Just remember to come back to the Gotham Live Tweetchat.

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