January 24, 2011

Preview of post-SOTU analysis

(On an MSNBC sound stage):

Chris Matthews: I'm top dog again. I run this place, not the ESPN guy. But I do want to say something about Keith before we start - he got real, and he paid the price. I hope we can all take something away from that.

Lawrence O'Donnell: Good point, Chris. That's where his sports background let him down - it's okay to sound critical, but within limits. You have to finish on a high note, that despite everything you just said, indicating that things can't possibly be okay, that everything is, in fact, okay.

Rachel Maddow: It is okay, but it's not really okay, but being able to say it's not okay means this is still the greatest country on earth.

CM: Thanks for saying that, Rachel. It's something we need to remind ourselves of - we don't get everything right, but in some completely nonquantifiable, unverifiable way, we get almost everything right so that we're okay.

L O'D: I thought the great thing about the speech tonight is that the President brought that fact home.

CM: What did you think of the Republicans and Democrats all mixed up in the seating? Optics, real?

L O'D: Real in an optical way. The optics were there, it's good, I think we're feeling better knowing that bipartisanship is not just an illusion but a seating chart.

CM: I got the old tingle up my leg looking at it. Jesus, what a country!

RM: It's significant, and the President is the main beneficiary. He waited this country out - he kept insisting we could overcome our differences, and his patience now looks visionary. The 100% Republican House vote to repeal his most important legislative achievement can be put in perspective now - just politics, but working together is the way forward.

L O'D: It is the way forward and I think you'll see a change in tone now. Barack Obama met the Republicans halfway, three-fourths of the way, seven-eighths of the way, three million nine hundred fifty seven-three million nine hundred fifty-eighths of the way, whatever - I'm not a mathematician, I'm a screen writer.

CM: It's thrilling. The tingle is really something tonight. I can't wait to take my pants off later.

RM: Obama said he could politic, or politick, doesn't matter, I'm saying this not writing it, pretty good, and I think he's proving that he knew something about himself that others thought maybe he had forgotten, but those Republicans sitting with those Democrats to me indicates that his message has gotten through and now we're going to pull together and become that competitive place he was talking about, going head to head against the best the world has to offer.

CM: In some ways I think Keith got out just in time, because his shrill tone just doesn't fit this new America we saw tonight, the one with Republicans and Democrats all jumbled up in the gallery, and it was thrilling to me, tingly, seeing that really the one thing everyone has in common is that they're just Americans, at the end of the day, and that's just it.

RM: Thanks for saying that, Chris.

(Fade out.)

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