The Washington Times - February 25, 2009, 02:11AM

Tonight, I recognized I have a problem. I’m addicted to Twitter.



How did that happen? I’m not new to the fad like some of the Washington journos getting ink lately.


I’ve actually been using my Twitter feed regularly since The Nation’s Ari Melber gave me a tutorial on the Obama plane back in September.


Anyway, I was in the House gallery above President Obama during his address to Congress. There are strict rules for the gallery, most importantly no cell phones or electronic devices.


So I set aside the Blackberry and for more than an hour was completely in the dark. But worse, I was unable to tweet any of the things I observed happening on the House floor from my perch in the gallery.


When it was over and I’d filed my story offering analysis about the speech, I started to type up some tweets after the fact. 


So here they are in all their glory, some of which I posted, others which never saw the light of day.


Secured spot in House Press Gallery for #nsotu but about to face serious deprivation - I forgot no berries/laptops allowed inside chamber

In press gallery, lots of #journotwits who haven’t done a #SOTU or #nSOTU in yrs. I skipped in 08 b/c I was in Ohio or smwhr, but did 06, 07

(Actually, an editor reminded me, I was in town - it was Kennedy endorsement day.)

Whew! Just filed #nSOTU story & realized addicted 2 Twitter. Lack of berry made worse by watching @johnculberson tweeting away during speech

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough was on the House floor pre- #nSOTU speech and WORKIN’ it, totally campaign style

Former Time bureau chief/current Biden spox Jay Carney was on the floor, got a shout from one of the photogs in the gallery above

I’m sure #nSOTU viewers caught this, but SECSTATE Clinton got big cheers when she came in the chamber

At #SOTU Rahm Emanuel went over to make nice with fmr Commerce Sec nominee Judd Gregg - very briefly

When SECINTERIOR Salazar came in, he got a big hug from McCain

OK so now I’m back gathering Jindal got bad reviews 4 #nSOTU - but was he better than Gov. Kaine & his eyebrows in 06? There’s a better way!

Also newly confirmed SECLABOR Solis got huge cheers and applause when she walked to #nSOTU

Pelosi and Obama do double-fisted handshake

POTUS waves from podium, accidentally starts before Pelosi can introduce him

Notes presence of First Lady, who grins and blows a kiss from her box.

At least 5 empty seats on GOP side, several Dems sitting in GOP seats b/c standing room only on their side

“Nobody messes with Joe” gets big laughs, applause

POTUS’ fmr rival McCain reading ahead in booklet, then sets down; remembers (false) shots suggesting he was asleep in prior yrs

3 GOP sens who voted for stimulus stood as he talked about it along with the Dems, GOP sits on hands

‘Those days are over’ line totally like we’re at battleground state rally

‘Cannot afford to … yield to the politics of the moment’ draws applause first fr galleries of real people above

When POTUS mentions charter schools, Rahm Emanuel exchanges a high-five with GOP Sen. Issacson

Best received line by far ‘Not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country’

Free of earmarks line draws hisses from GOP side of chamber (watching later on TV you can’t tell)

@johnculberson was rolling eyes and heckling during this point

POTUS: ‘You’ll hear same old claims that ending tax cuts = tax increase’ @johnculberson shouts: ‘You’re right!’

When POTUS mentions banker and eyes pan upward to FLOTUS box, banker’s S/O rubs his arm

FLOTUS dabbing eyes as if crying when POTUS noted Ty’Sheoma’s letter about school; girl’s mom also crying

POTUS stops to shake hands with all staffers at dais - I didn’t see Bush do that in ‘06 or ‘07

Also POTUS heads to shake GOP hands, pauses to wave at galleries, even press one before he caught himself

Members on House floor start chanting ‘Fired up, ready to go’ Obama campaign slogan

As he’s shaking hands, POTUS points at GOP Sen. Sessions who nods and points back

POTUS and GOP Sen. @tomcoburn, friends since he became senator in ‘05, exchange hearty hug

“Good job,” GOP Sen. @chuckgrassley tells POTUS

(Later, Grassley tweeted: ‘Concentrate on what Obama said abt parental invovment in kids education. I’m going to help him. Wout spending one penny that will do good’)

Former McCain booster Lieberman gives Obama a big hug; POTUS gives GOP senate ldr McConnell thumbs up

Jesse Jackson Jr. kissed POTUS on the cheek - awkward!

GOP Rep. @johnculberson, who tweeted during entire speech and even heckled POTUS, made sure to shake his hand

(Among Culberson’s tweets: “We are at war - seems to me honoring our troops should come on page one rather than the end of the speech” and “Hold onto your wallet America”)

GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt gets POTUS autograph, so does left-out ‘team of rivals’ member Rep. Kucinich

Rep. Wasserman-Schultz carrying a double-take worthy purse shaped like a high heel and is leopard print.

Teenage pages stuck around for pics of Obama, cheered

VP Biden finally leaves dais at 10:17 when POTUS left the room, lingers for handshakes with those still on floor

NY Daily News and I counted 60 applause lines; editors & WH bureau chief counted 65


Now that’s out of my system, life will go back to normal.


Read my analysis here, and Stephen Dinan’s main story on the speech here.


 Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times


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