The GOP showed a bit of desperation and definite lack of focus last night in needing not one, two or three responses to the president's State of the Union address, but a total of four. That's either because they're totally unfocused or they had so much to say, they were going to break it up and have "experts" in specific fields address the president's signature issues. Well, actually it was the first suggestion -- unfocused.
First there was the "official" GOP response. That was delivered by the effervescent and very pleasant Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). In less time than it took Obama to exit the chamber, she was on screen giving the Republican's "official reply."
Now we all know that she didn't have time to listen to what the President was saying, write, rehearse and then deliver anything more than speculation. There just wasn't time. So her job was to give GOP talking points, based on leaked information and what she thought the President might say. Her selection to be the face of the party was a no-brainer. This being 2014 and the Republicans hoping to retake the Senate and hold onto the House, know they're in deep trouble with women voters, the result of the GOP's continued war on them.
So they carefully and thoughtfully chose the fourth ranking Republican in the House, and one of a handful of elected Republican women, to be their front (man). This selection was about image, not content as evidenced by the fact that Ms. McMorris Rodgers' has no national recognition. She could have been anybody. No one would have known or, truthfully, cared.
Congresswoman Rodgers reminded me of a rose. Nice to look at, delicate, and oftentimes pleasantly aromatic, but no matter how long it sits in water, the flower droops, the petals fall off, and the flower dies. We admire the look and perhaps fragrance of her presentation, but in one brief shining moment, like Camelot, it's gone.
Her job was to put a female face on the nearly exclusive male party. And she did that with grace and poise -- all that was missing was content. She was a cheerleader and basically offered up nothing contrary to what Obama had just brought up. It's like a pep squad at a game doing the same cheers as their opponents routines. She offered up no new moves. Same song. Same lyrics. Same choreography.
In order to double down, the GOP continued it's piecework approach to the SOTU speech response: they went to their Salsa Attack. They brought out Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) who addressed the few Spanish-speaking audience members who were listening by utilizing the same generalities delivered by Rodgers.
There was little to nothing new -- according to the translation available for non-Spanish speakers like myself. And once again, here was a lovely rose, the blush already off the bloom, and really lost on the national stage.
But these two women who were basically being used as tokens and shills for the GOP, were finding their time infringed upon by the Tea Party's own response delivered by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The Rafael 'Ted' Cruz puppet found his speech was the easiest of the four that were "officially" delivered. He railed against both Democrats and most Republicans. Democrats were evil and the moderate Republicans were equally as sinister for going along with them. Basically, take anything that makes sense for America, and Cruz, through Lee, spoke out against it.
Finally there was ever-daft Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who delivered remarks of his own via YouTube presentation. His nonsense cemented his place in history and the son in Sanford and Son -- two nuts from the same tree, both dealing in the junk business.
So what we were treated to were five speeches yesterday. There was only one that mattered and that was Obama's. Whether you liked it or not, there were modest promises and not so thinly veiled threats. The country either gets moving with the participation of the least successful Congress in history or the boss man is going to take things in his own hands to the extent of the law, and issue executive orders, and make shit happen.
So what's it going to be? Another lost year like 2013 due to obstructionism by the right, or a rebound year? I'm rooting for the latter, but truthfully all signs point to the former. Fortunately we, the people, are going to be able to remove the scourge that is known at the 113th congress when we vote in November. The Senate, despite what political pundits love to caution, will stay in the Democrats' hands when the mid-terms are held. There's too much blood on the GOP's hands in statewide elections. They will have to defend a lack of a jobs bill, a government shutdown, failure to close tax loopholes on the rich, general benefits and coverage for the masses in healthcare which the GOP has fought against, and crumbling roads and infrastructure that's damaging our abilities to attract investments from overseas. Yet more than anything else -- the majority of women and immigrant voters who will go to the polls to make their voices heard, will not want to support a party that wants to keep them down and treats them like chattel, not equals. They want inclusion and representation that mirrors them. Not tokens and shills. And that's all you get with the GOP.
Don't believe me? Here's how former New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman, a Republican and the last women to deliver a GOP response to the State of the Union response summed it up:
"It's hard for me to phrase this politely: Sometimes Republicans think that just putting a woman up front means somehow that women are going to feel good about the party," Whitman said. "It is not about the messenger. It's about the message. And until we figure that one out -- while it's nice that we have a woman as a spokesperson -- if the message itself doesn't get changed a bit, it's not going to work."