The high point for President Obama's State of the Union address was watching members of Congress take the expression "seat of government" to a new level by mingling across the aisle in their choice of seating.  It all went downhill from there.  After giving a solid and compassionate speech in Tucson barely two weeks ago, the President reverted to the laundry list of talking points which has been typical of his presidency and in stark contrast to his campaign appearances.

A State of the Union address is rarely memorable, and for the most part, last night's speech was no different.  However, as the old saying goes, a thousand good deeds can be undone by a single bad one.  This is especially true in politics.  Whether in a debate or a major address, the most remarkable moments are often the mistakes and miscues.  As an example, for opponents of George W. Bush, the "sixteen words" will live forever in infamy.

Far from being a great orator, Obama relied so much on his teleprompter last night that at times it seemed like he didn't even get the joke he was attempting to tell.  Worse still, even the jokes that came off well were awkward distractions from the message he was trying to get across.  Finally, there were several moments which although not humorous, opened the President to ridicule.  So then, below is a ranking of the top five blunders from Obama's speech last night:

5) Supporting Democracy

And we saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator.  And tonight, let us be clear:  The United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

This statement from the President is especially hard to take seriously after his failures in the past to speak forcefully in support of freedom.  During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama remained conspicuously silent during the Russian invasion of Georgia.  Then, in 2009, the President again had very little to say during the student uprisings in Iran demanding reform of the tyrannical regime there.

Worst of all, he vocally opposed the ouster of wannabe dictator Manuel Zelaya in direct opposition to the will of the Honduran people and their constitution.  From this, it should come as no surprise that he failed to make any mention of the protests that have erupted in Egypt in the past few days against president-for-life Hosni Mubarak, but instead delegated a cautious press release to his spokesman, Robert Gibbs.

4) Sputnik

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon.  The science wasn’t even there yet.  NASA didn't exist.  But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

The idea that NASA somehow deserves the credit for numerous "space-age" technologies is an urban legend that has been thoroughly debunked.  No less an authority than the NASA website states that, although used by the space pioneers, famous inventions like Velcro, Tang, and Teflon were all developed before the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957.  The President seems to imply that innovation is not possible without government support, but whether today or back in the space race, private entrepreneurs are always the real source of new technologies.

3) The Airplane of State

Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine.  It may make you feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you feel the impact.

President Obama lived up to predictions that "investment" would be his favorite buzzword for the evening. However, in the metaphor comparing America to an airplane, he seems to be confused as to the source of jobs and wealth in the economy.  The government is not an engine of growth. Even though the $800 Billion "stimulus" bill proved this decisively, Obama is still operating under the Keynesian assumption that the government can somehow create prosperity from nothing.

2) Salmon

The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater.  I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked.

 After last night's speech, the term "salmon joke" may enter the political lexicon as a way to describe an awkward and distracting joke that actually contradicts and damages the speaker's argument.  After lecturing the American people on the need for investment and innovation--paid for with taxpayer dollars, of course--the President then gives an example of exactly how backwards and un-innovative the government is.

The irony is even more delicious when we consider that for a small business owner trying to succeed in the face of an overwhelming federal bureaucracy and one of the highest corporate tax burdens in the world, it's very similar to the plight of a salmon that is trying to swim upriver against the current.  On the bright side, sales of bagels with lox and cream cheese probably got a boost this morning.

1) High Speed Rail

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.  This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car.  For some trips, it will be faster than flying --without the pat-down.

High speed rail was by far the most distracting blunder in the President's speech. Although very popular in Europe and Japan and our among coastal elites, high speed trains are still arguably very heavily subsidized by governments there.  Even on shorter distances, trains are only quicker than airplanes because of the enormous delays associated with airport security. When commercial air travel became widespread in the 1960's, profit margins for passenger train service collapsed and caused a wave of bankruptcies and mergers in the railroad industry.

Indeed, I have written previously on the immensely unprofitable nature of rail travel given the vast distances and low population density in this country--especially in the western states--which concluded, "Trains may be a romantic and exciting part of our history, but so are the horse-drawn buggy and the stagecoach. The reality is that for long distance travel, Americans would rather fly."

Moreover, if the President is comparing America to an airplane, why the heck is he arguing for building high speed trains?

Just to drive the point home, while the President was shaking hands and signing autographs after the speech, a member of Congress could be overheard on an open microphone congratulating the President on his strong and impassioned advocacy of high-speed rail projects.  The comment perfectly encapsulates how much the repeated call for rail projects distracted from everything else the President was trying to say.

Instead of delivering a focused and inspiring narrative of where he wants to take his administration in the year ahead, the President rattled off the usual platitudes and anodyne statements.  Had he stopped there, the speech would have done no harm.  Instead, we learned from Obama's speech that we need to build high speed trains so that salmon can get upriver without having to get a pat-down before boarding an airplane with no engine.  Sadly, it seems that from now on, Obama's presidency will just be one big salmon joke.