Opening Act: Solid State

President Barack Obama receives applause as he delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress January 24, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Having survived 16 hours in Atlanta’s airport, I am back in D.C. and scoping out a seat for the State of the Union tonight. I’ll have a fuller preview later, then I’ll see if Eliot Engel needs a chair-saver.

Lori Montgomery sets the tone for Obama scolds:

In recent weeks, the White House has pressed the message that, if policymakers can agree on a strategy for replacing across-the-board spending cuts set to hit next month, Obama will pretty much have achieved what he has called “our ultimate goal” of halting the rapid rise in government borrowing… Deficit hawks have reacted with alarm to the administration’s position.

Bill Kristol runs out of anti-Hagel ammo, starts shoving silverware in the cannons:

In the course of praising Aaron David Miller’s book on the Middle East, Hagel says, “And if you want to read something that is very, very enlightening, this guy he’s getting tremendous reviews on it. He’s Jewish. He worked in the State Department, worked for Baker, worked for Albright, I think he’s worked for four secretaries of state, different Democrats, Republicans.”

“He’s Jewish.” Isn’t there something creepy and disquieting about that interjection?

Not really, right?

I’m largely counting on Matthew Yglesias to explain the rising disquiet over the “corporate cash glut,” but Bruce Bartlett clears a lot up here.

McKay Coppins is out with a #longread about the Biltmore Hotel, the epicenter of wealthy south Florida Republican politics, and how its machers still prefer a Bush restoration over a Rubio candidacy.

One exasperated Republican recalled spending close to an hour listening to Rubio agonize over a National Journal article that criticized how his leadership PAC was spending its funds. The Republican tried to reason with the Senator that “no one outside DC will care about this,” but it was useless.

“He just lets these little things get to him, and he worries too much,” the Republican said. “I’m just like, ‘Marco, calm down.’”

And before the Armed Services Committee votes on Hagel’s nomination today, Katrina Trinko writes about his best-known reluctant critic, Lindsey Graham, and how he’s not going to have the brutal re-election that people expect.