SOTU POTPOURRI

Obama's sixth State of the Union could be described charitably as "workmanlike"; he went out there and powered through it. There's not much left in his presidency in terms of originality or enthusiasm. This was strictly a Get It Done speech with the modest goal of trying to avoid making the last quarter of his presidency a total waste. That the speech was an exercise in going through the motions did not prevent the usual wingnut suspects from reacting as though Obama read directly from Das Kapital before closing by asking a little girl if she believes in God and then blowing her head off when she said yes. Slate has a decent collection of some of the worst tweets from the right – media figures and elected officials only – on Tuesday night, a collection that is sure to grow over the next 12 hours.

As for the follow-up from yesterday's post, it's very difficult to tell which of the three Republican/Tea Party responses was worse. The official response from Cathy McMorris-Rodgers appeared to be focused solely on answering the question, "Who the fuck is Cathy McMorris-Rogers?" It's a fair question. And once again, as with Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, the response itself was undermined by bizarre staging and lighting. Why was she sitting on a couch? Why was it so dark? Why did it look vaguely like a snuff film? It can't be that hard to figure this out – it's impossible to deliver a good address in an empty room. Give the response in a format identical to a press conference. Stand at a podium and read the speech to a small audience composed mostly of journalists. The GOP will never figure this out, though, since they are terrible at everything.

The other ongoing problem with the Republican responses is that they are written and delivered as though everyone in America is about 8 years old. Even if I agreed with her positions, I don't think I could have tolerated being spoken at in the way. The point gets made all the time, but if you compare a speech like this to a political address from the 1950s or 1960s, the difference in tone is stark. Political figures used to speak to the nation as though it was made up of adults. Now they not only treat us like children, but not particularly bright children at that.

As for vuffingtonpost.com/2014/01/28/mike-lee-response-_n_4681658.html?utm_hp_ref=politics">the Mike Lee response, he challenged the Tea Party to actually be for something as opposed to merely opposing everything, which is entirely too reasonable a point for the Tea Party to be pleased with his performance. They'll probably turn their attention to finding a primary challenge for Lee. Because god knows that being "for" anything is completely alien to their political worldview.

Be Sociable, Share!

34 Responses to “SOTU POTPOURRI”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    If that was the vetted version of the GOP response, then…wow. They have nothing. I mean, nothing. That was the emptiest speech I've heard in forever, its promises vaguer than the cries of a freak-show barker on a third-rate midway: "Mysteries await…we guarantee!" Also: Aggressively homey, I'm-just-like-you, Special-needs-child-and-how-precious-he-is–somebody slipped a Palin pod under that woman's bed while she slept. (Which, good for you, GOP–because there's a brand that's really done wonders for you.) It was howlingly pointless, reminding us that the only reason she was there was because somebody had to be. (To be fair to Rep. McMorris-Rogers, she did much better than any of her recent predecessors. But then, a juggler who just sticks to one ball can be counted upon not to fuck up too much.)

    It won't matter to the chatterers, of course. I've no idea what actual people in actual homes throughout the country thought as they watched (and neither does anyone on TV tonight, let's bear that in mind before we take what they say too seriously.) But the catamites on Fox News will praise the speech as if Bryan had penned a sequel to the Cross of Gold, because that's the script, and they want to get paid. (Or because they're like Laura Ingraham, and actually believe this shit, because they're incredibly stupid.) The liberals will attempt to spin Obama's speech as better than ordinary (it wasn't), and try to focus on the issues (they'll fail), or else complain that he didn't go far enough (which, true, he didn't, but we all need to make peace with the fact that this guy isn't going to bring home the win.)

    I did enjoy the guy on the CNN panel essentially telling Gingrich to shut up and go back to the fantasy world he inhabits. That was fun. Didn't add much to the discourse, but what could, at this point?

  2. Xynzee Says:

    "Now they not only treat us like children, but not particularly bright children at that."

    Well basically that sums up their voters.

  3. Brad Says:

    Oh god, please watch the i-Rand Paul response. It is one of the best incoherent amalgams of goldbuggery, teahadist and lost-cause bullshit I've ever heard. He actually used the phrase "democracy of the marketplace."

  4. Croooow! Says:

    Come on. Capital. The Das is added by jackass conservatives to make the book sound sinister.

  5. Middle Seaman Says:

    The Das is it's first name (and proper German).

    The advantage I have on you'll is huge. What SOTU? Used to listen to Clinton; the guy is always the smartest guy in the room. Obama not so much. Why listen to any litany on inequality from the guy that invented it? In six years one is pressed to find one good idea this administration came up with.

    Health care reform: long history and Edwards in 2008.

    Marriage for all: Clinton started and Admiral Mullen nailed the coffin.

    Basta.

  6. Pat Says:

    "The Das is it's first name (and proper German)."

    But "its" is proper English.

  7. Pat Says:

    Something nags at me: Yes, the GOP responses to Obama's SotU addresses have been pathetically dumb, but it seems likely that's due to the constraints of the format. I don't recall any Democratic response to a Bush SotU really hitting it out of the park… but it's been long enough I don't trust my recollection.

    It is rather telling, however, that a precocious high schooler could write, with probably 95%+ accuracy, the GOP response ahead of time, no matter what year it is and what's actually going on in Washington. Less government, not more; empower individuals to make their own decisions; and then heads-some pablum about the sanctity of life, tails-a non sequitur about how terrorists are scary. It's literally the same handful of bullet points every g.d. time.

  8. Anonymouse Says:

    @Pat: >>It is rather telling, however, that a precocious high schooler could write, with probably 95%+ accuracy, the GOP response ahead of time, no matter what year it is and what's actually going on in Washington.>>

    Well, sure. The standard Republican response to anything is "Rill Murikkkuh! Guns-n-more guns! Bengaaaaaaaazi!"

  9. Sarah Says:

    Cathy McMorris Rogers is an alumna of Pensacola Christian College, which is very similar to BYU, Bob Jones University, and (I would imagine) Liberty University. I just heard the clip where she said that "Republicans believe that health care should be your choice, not the government's," and stopped listening. In light of this story, I can't help thinking that they know exactly how full of shit they are, and they plow on anyway.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    For the first time in my adult life, I skipped the SOTU and the idiotic responses.

    If I want that kind of entertainment, I'd watch Elmer Fudd try to finally shoot that waskally Pwesident, Bugs Oba… er… I mean Bugs Bunny – or Wile E. Coyote try to catch the Road Runner.

    At least I know those are cartoon characters.
    Wait!
    So are Rand Paul, Ted Cruz-ader, Mike Lee, and the House Republican contingent.

  11. John Danley Says:

    The Tea Turds stand for FRREEEDUUUM! But they don't really "stand" for it, since Rascal Scooters doesn't have a contract with TEK Robotics.

  12. Rich Says:

    Nitpicks: It was his 5th not 6th SOTU address and the tweets are at Salon not Slate, which makes sense because one occasionally has a snarky sense of humor and the other has never had much sense of humor of any kind.

  13. Dave Dell Says:

    c u n d gulag – I, too, skipped the SOTU for the first time since Bush the First. I knew I'd find out everything I'd need to know about it through GinandTacos and Charles Pierce over at Esquire.

    I am tempted, however, to find the Paulian response before I turn on the TV to watch my State Legislature (Nebraska) begin debate on how election results should count in the electoral college.

  14. Gordon Guano Says:

    Html fail! The first link goes to Salon, not Slate, and the last link to HuffPo is borked. I demand a full refund!

  15. Whatver Says:

    Wait, did we taxpayers pay for the air time of the Republican response?

  16. c u n d gulag Says:

    Dave Dell,
    This is the first one I've skipped, since the beginning of Nixon's second term.
    Jeez, I'm getting old.

    OY!
    Is Nebraska now one of those states which doesn't like the fact that Republicans have lost in the Electoral College, and is now looking for ways to count Congressional districts, instead of giving all of the state's votes to the overall winner in that state?

  17. Dial Tone Says:

    @c u n d

    Nebraska has always counted districts, we're one of 2 states. 2 electoral votes for the popular vote winner, then 1 vote each for the 3 districts.

    In 2008, district 2 (Omaha) sent an electoral vote to Obama, so in 2011 the district was re-drawn to drop a minority-heavy Bellevue and pick up west Omaha (white flight R's) which essentially put an end to district 2 leaning D.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska's_2nd_congressional_district

  18. c u n d gulag Says:

    Dial Tone,
    D'OH!
    Thanks, I'd completely forgotten about that.

    I've long passed the point of "Maximum Outrage Overload!"

  19. Croooow! Says:

    That's precisely the point seaman. We're speaking English. Capital. When you keep it in German it sounds like some scary foreign thing. For what it's worth, my German Studies professor called it Capital. The David Harvey lecture series is called Reading Capital. He calls it Capital. Tell me, what other foreign language works are referred to in a similar way.

  20. Bitter Scribe Says:

    Tell me, what other foreign language works are referred to in a similar way.

    Well, we call it "Mein Kampf" instead of "My Struggle," for starters.

  21. Mothra Says:

    Croooow!, points for pedantry. Herr Marx's book can be referred to either "Capital" or "Das Kapital;" I would say I have more frequently heard the German name. But, to answer you question about other foreign language literature that is referred to by their foreign titles, the following come to mind: Les Miserables. Don Quixote. Mein Kampf. Nearly all operas, if you count opera. That's all I come up with, off the top of my head. Bet there's more.

  22. Mothra Says:

    damn it. I would be answering "your" question. Grrrrrr.

  23. Mothra Says:

    Ooo, ooo: "Madame Bovary."
    This is fun.

  24. Sarah Says:

    From what I'm finding on Amazon, Capital (a multivolume work totalling over 1000 pages) and Das Kapital (about 200 pages) are two different things. Both written by Karl Marx.

  25. Dave Says:

    Still waiting for the comfy blanket and mug of hot cocoa I'm pretty sure McMorris-Rodgers promised me in her speech. Also the tinfoil hat Rand Paul promised me. So tired of broken promises from Washington.

  26. postcaroline Says:

    I have read this twice now and I keep seeing "workmanlike" as "womanlike"

  27. Pat Says:

    I initially could only think of Les Miserables, but after some Googlling, the Goetterdaemmerung and Liebelungenlied, L'Assomoir (Zola), Ficciones (Borges), and a lot of old religious texts, like the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, the Talmud, etc.

    Also I'm waiting for the novelization of La Femme Nikita. That shit's gonna be off the hook.

  28. Pat Says:

    Whoops, busted ital tag up there. Apologies.

  29. Southern Beale Says:

    Cathy McMorris-Rodgers' claim that "Republicans believe women, not the government, are best able to make healthcare decision" was undercut by the fact that House Republicans passed sweeping anti-abortion legislation earlier that day. Legislation Cathy McMorris-Rodgers no doubt voted for.

    Honestly, the GOP just needs to shut up about women. Just give it up, already.

  30. Matt Says:

    "Why did it look vaguely like a snuff film?"

    Natural side-effect of being organized by a party that literally wishes the country would die. They've been acting out their "if we (white fundamentalist males) can't have all the power, than the whole country shouldn't exist" melodrama for way too long…

  31. eau Says:

    @matt: unfair exaggeration there. They don't want the country to die, Just the minorities. And liberals.

  32. Don Says:

    I'm impressed at the dedication some of you have shown to the SOTU over the years. I watched Obama's first, one of Bush's (TV nearly didn't make it through that one) and I think a Carter. Usually I handle it like I do the Oscars, another stage-managed marketing tool – do something else more fun, and assume if something extraordinary happens (WHAT is with you Joe Biden? Just sit still can't you?), I'll hear about it later.

  33. Sarah Says:

    I'm impressed at the dedication some of you have shown to the SOTU over the years.

    Years ago I had a (liberal) professor who insinuated that watching the SOTU was a civic duty like jury duty or voting. She watched it and was kind of appalled that most of the class wasn't watching the SOTU at the time. Personally, I'd rather go to bed (I mean, it starts at 9pm my time and can run until 10:30 or 11) as there's nothing wrong with reading the transcript the next day.

  34. Barry Says:

    Sarah Says:
    January 29th, 2014 at 7:28 am

    "Cathy McMorris Rogers is an alumna of Pensacola Christian College, which is very similar to BYU, Bob Jones University, and (I would imagine) Liberty University. I just heard the clip where she said that "Republicans believe that health care should be your choice, not the government's," and stopped listening. In light of this story, I can't help thinking that they know exactly how full of shit they are, and they plow on anyway."

    BTW, in true Tea Party fashion, she also immediately dove into government employment, and never came up for even one breath of Free Market Air.