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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tweeting the Congressional address

Posted by on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 3:18 AM

Barack Obama speaking in Durham (Photo by Jeremy M. Lange)
  • Barack Obama speaking in Durham (Photo by Jeremy M. Lange)

If you didn't get a chance to watch President Barack Obama's speech to Congress, you can distill its essential nature--bold optimism, in the face of economic collapse--in the The New York Times' news analysis. Peter Baker writes of the juxtaposition of Obama's message of unity ("We will emerge stronger than before") and an unapologetic "philosophical agenda that strikes at the heart of the other party’s core beliefs." His plan to invest heavily in education, health care and energy independence--not in spite of the recession, Obama argued, but in order to overcome it--suggests "a more activist government than any other since Lyndon B. Johnson," Baker writes.

He gave his program no nifty new brand name, no “New Deal” or “Great Society,” not even the “New Covenant” that Bill Clinton briefly tried out and quickly abandoned, or George W. Bush's overshadowed “Ownership Society.” But he likened his program to those of other periods of upheaval when the nation responded with major steps, from the expansion of the rail system in the Civil War to the G.I. Bill that sent World War II veterans to college.

But if you really want to know what was going on in the sacred halls of Congress Tuesday night--in 140 characters or less--The Washington Post's 44 blog has an excellent roundup of reporters' Twitter posts.

Among them, ABC's senior White House respondent Jack Tapper, who writes: "reporter to biden; how r u feeling? VP Biden: i feel great bc i dont have to do anything. (just a few min ago)." Also Bobby Jindal, who issued a stale video response to Obama's speech, apparently bore an uncanny resemblance to 30 Rock's Kenneth the Page. (Ben Smith, Politco reporter,  felt "deluged" by the unsolicited comparisons.) And finally, Mike Gehrke, the former DNC research director, notes "Thank you Bobby Jindal for making us forget about Tim Kaine's eyebrows."

Okay, so what about the speech? U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, has the final word, submitted via Twitter: "Great speech. Right tone.Right message of bold action and budget restraint. My favorite line: 'We are not quitters.'"

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