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Live blogging the State of the Union address (for a while, at least)

Tonight, President Obama is expected to use his State of the Union address to further his permanent campaign, which essentially is a permanent war on the Republican Party. Obama’s problem is that the American people don’t want a permanent campaign. Or so I hope.

I’m actually listening to the speech on the radio, rather than watching it on television. So I’ll miss much of the ambience. Or so I hope.

Apparently, there is a 12-year-old among the honored guests who represents a group called “the Happys,” or something to that effect. I remember at the National Forensic League championship tournament in 1967, one of the contestants in Original Oratory urged the youth of America to be “Happys” rather than “Hippies.” Sadly, I didn’t make it as either.

One down side of not watching is that I won’t see Tom Cotton. Perhaps readers can fill me in on any Tom Cotton sightings, assuming he exists.

Obama begins by saying that “we have cleared away the rubble of crisis.” It’s a misleading claim, but a good way for him to summarize things.

But immediately he switches gears and argues that wages are stagnant and that opportunities are limited. This is the prelude for advocating his left-wing agenda.

Now, already, he’s talking about the sequester. He calls it something that Congress agreed on, not pointing out that it was his idea.

Just as I predicted, the centerpiece of this speech is going to be scaring folks about the sequester and calling for more taxes.

He’s partying like its 2012, calling for a “balanced approach” to balancing the budget that simply asks the well-off to do their fair share. He’s calling for the closing of tax loopholes that benefit the rich and, as I predicted, noting that the Republicans have already put this on the table. Of course, when Republicans put tax reform on the table, Obama didn’t want to hear about it. His agenda was limited to raising tax rates. Now, correspondingly, the Republican agenda should be limited to cutting government spending.

The speech is strong stuff, though. The question is whether the speech will have a lasting effect on public opinion. I doubt it.

Obama has referred several times to a proposal he’s going to lay out tonight to tackle the budget deficit while promoting growth. Is this some grand plan? Maybe, but right now he’s talking about some small-ball plan to set up centers to help keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. (or something like that).

Now it’s on to energy. Not developing new sources of it, but dealing with climate change. Hurricane Sandy was no coincidence, Obama insists. I agree. It was part of some grand design to enable Obama to bond with Chris Christie.

He threatens to use Executive Orders to combat climate change, if Congress doesn’t act. Happily, Executive Orders can be overturned by a new president; Acts of Congress, not so much.

We’re working our way deeper into the liberal laundry list now. He’s proposing a “fix it first” program, which is what they used to call “public works.”

Next it’s housing. He’s claiming that folks who can afford housing are being turned down for loans. Obama is going back to his ACORN roots now. Obama and his fellow rads helped trigger the financial collapse through bogus claims of discrimination in lending practices, coupled by a campaign of intimidation against banks.

Now Obama commits to bringing high quality early childhood education to every American child. How about high quality regular education through programs that enable kids to get out of failing public schools? Obama is steadfastly against this.

What he’s for, Obama states (though not in these words), is imposing his ideas on America’s youth by dictating curriculum to high schools. Stanley Kurtz, call your office.

Now it’s on to comprehensive immigration reform. He applauds the efforts of Schumer, McCain, Graham, Rubio, etc. to develop comprehensive legislation. He tells Congress, pass such a bill and I will sign it. The good-cop, bad-cop act is over. He’s heading directly for paydirt.

Obama moves on quickly to the minimum wage, wage “fairness” for women, etc. I expected more on immigration reform. He must feel very confident on the immigration front.

He’s going to propose some kind of incentive program to encourage young fathers to actually act like fathers. This is the first recognition — albeit only for a sentence or two — of the social pathologies that are at the heart of nearly every domestic problem Obama has cited.

Obama pledges that by the end of 2014, America’s war in Afghanistan will be over. We will still do training and some counter-terrorism. Will that be enough to deal with the Taliban? Obama doesn’t know, nor does he care.

Now it’s time for more of Obama’s meaningless talk about North Korean nukes and Iran’s quest to obtain them. He devotes two or three sentences to saying that North Korea is only further isolating itself and that Iran won’t be allowed to get nukes. Saying nothing would be better than this sort of perfunctory reference.

There’s a one-sentence, check-the-box reference to Israel. This too is meaningless, but I didn’t hear anything about the “peace process.” Assuming I didn’t miss it, that’s probably a good sign.

There’s a shout-out to “Dr. Jill Biden.” What’s she a doctor of, again?

Now he’s talking about the “denial of the right to vote.” This turns out to consist of having to stand in line for a few hours. He’s going to appoint a bipartisan commission to improve “the voting experience.” I suggest free sandwiches.

Okay, it’s time to plug gun control. Obama says, and I agree, that the various gun control proposals backed by police chiefs, etc. deserve a vote in Congress. He graciously tells the assembled legislators that they will have the right to vote “no.”

Obama is talking about a Chicago teenager who was recently shot and killed. Doesn’t Chicago have tough gun laws?

Pointing to various victims of gun violence, Obama repeats “THEY DESERVE A VOTE.” This is the biggest crowd-pleaser of the evening so far.

Now, it’s time for shout-outs to citizens other than Dr. Jill Biden. A clear step up.

I think he’s wrapping up now. Or so I hope.

* * * * * * * * *

It is, indeed, over. My impressions? I don’t know; my mind is numb.

I think it was a strong speech as these things go. The meat was in the beginning, which is where it belongs; after that, Obama descended into laundry-list-land, as presidents always do these days in these speeches.

Obama proved he can powerfully debate the budget by focusing on taxes and the rich. But as I said at the outset, I think the public’s interest in the debate is waning.

Right now, public interest in the sequester and related issues is probably at about the same low level as Obama’s interest, on September 11, in what was transpiring in Benghazi. If the government shuts down or we’re thrown into a recession, public interest will be aroused. Otherwise, Obama is more or less on his own in dealing with the Republican House.

A good speech, and I think this was one, can’t change that. Or so I hope.

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