9:17 pm: Obama says, “But such progress is not inevitable. It's the result of choices we make together.” I’m particularly glad to hear this, having last month laid out a detailed critique of Obama’s disappointing tendency to speak of history as an ever-improving linear process, an agent of change unto itself. It’s a bad impulse, and it’s good to hear him fighting it. —David Graham
9:17 pm: President Obama’s conceit is that there has always been change, that people always feared it, and that those fears were overcome. This progressive view of history certainly has its supporting examples, but surely there are some changes that were negative, that would’ve better been resisted. —Conor Friedersdorf
9:15 pm: Obama is articulating what amounts to an uplifting plea for progressivism. "We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the 'dogmas of the quiet past,'” he says. "Instead we thought anew, and acted anew." —David Graham
9:15 pm: "I want to focus on the next five years," the next 10 years, "and beyond." Now that he's gotten through his legislative priorities for the next year, Obama is moving on to the broader themes we were told to expect. —Nora Kelly
9:14 pm: "We live in a time of extraordinary change," says Obama, and it's tough not to read that, in some way, as a throwback to his first election slogan: "Change we can believe in." —Marina Koren
9:13 pm: There are times when presidents look as if they’re burdened by the weight of a million woes. Obama looks like he is having some fun. —James Fallows
9:13 pm: Obama starts his speech with a conciliatory nod toward Republicans, thanking Speaker Ryan for helping to "pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families." Then he mentions two policy areas he hopes the GOP will help him advance: criminal-justice reform, and curbing prescription-drug abuse. The early shoutouts are an indicator of high priority for the president. —Clare Foran
9:12 pm: Opening: Actually very nice “antsy to get back to Iowa” opening! Solidarity through “let’s make this shorter.” And a nice little needle about, “I know about Iowa—I’ve been there!” I.e., I have been there and won. And the rest of you—let’s see your stuff.—James Fallows
9:12 pm: "And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa." Obama's got jokes—and there are many more to come in the prepared remarks. —David Graham
9:10 pm: Perhaps going forward we could work to establish a new piece of etiquette in Washington, D.C.: when millions are gathered before their television sets waiting for the president to speak, it is impolite to delay him with banal pleasantries on the way to the podium, even if it does make you feel like your importance is validated by the gesture. —Conor Friedersdorf
9:09 pm: Timeless Principle #6: Ronald Reagan, for all his skills in oratory, did two terrible things to the tradition of presidential rhetoric. One was creating the cliched tradition that all speeches have to end, “And God bless the United States of America.” Really, presidents didn’t do it that way before—you can look it up.
The other is the Lenny Skutnik cliche: lining the presidential box, next to the First Lady, with what are essentially political props. The tradition has gone too far to be changeable, but … this is part of the Reagan legacy.