Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Republican Response Repository

So how did the Republican responses go last night, given that that was yesterday's topic here? Did anyone shine? Did anyone go down in flames?

The official response, for historical purposes, went to Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Washington, as you know. Personally, I thought she looked like a Stepford wife reading a bedtime story, but judge for yourself.

"The real State of the Union is in your heart, and your home." Seriously, what?

McMorris-Rodgers was hamstrung by the same thing that hamstrings a lot of responses: they're written out beforehand, often recorded beforehand, without knowledge of the exact text of the President's speech. You're responding to what you're predicting the President will say and not what he's actually said. She ended up treading a lot of the same ground Obama did, making its nature as a rebuttal far less effective. But it wasn't as obviously bad as some of the previous responses, so she should live to fight another day.

Next up, the 'official' Tea Party response, from Mike Lee of Utah, which continues to fight the beyond-lost Obamacare battle on behalf of "those Americans who feel they've been forgotten by both political parties":

All Lee managed to do here was play into Obama's hand. A key theme of Obama's speech was how he'd start doing things himself where he could because of impatience with Congressional inability to act. He laced his speech with phrases like "if Congress wants to help" and "when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could" and "To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, I say, you don't have to wait for Congress to act". He verbally slugged Congress right in the face all night long. Lee spent his response being exactly the kind of guy Obama was talking about. But then, you're either on board with that or you're not, and if you are, you had your mind made up before the night began anyway. So Lee will live to fight another day.

Rand Paul of Kentucky gave this response:

Professionally done, no visible gaffes, but then, not too much attention was paid to the words, which were... not so much with the sane. People taking themselves off welfare not because they had found work, but because they have faith that they will... that's a nice one-off story when the job is found, but seriously, don't go holding that up as something everyone ought to be doing. You're just going to end up with a lot of people who guess wrong and end up starving under a bridge. Come on now. As far as responses go, Paul lives to fight another day, despite being a nutter.

I don't have video of Ted Cruz's response, so I guess we'll move on to the responses that didn't count as official or unofficial responses, of which, of course, there were many. Two people came off particularly badly here, and if anyone goes down in flames, it'll be them. First was Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, speaking with Rachel Maddow after a tweet regarding the close of the speech that Maddow brings up towards the start of the segment as reasoning for why Huelskamp is on in the first place.

Things went south very, very quickly.

The big loser of the night, though, was Michael Grimm of New York, for a) his words and deeds towards a New York-area reporter, and b) forgetting where the camera was when those words and deeds were worded and deeded. He's a bit hard to hear, so I picked a video with subtitles.

This, of course, got everyone else interested in what Grimm's deal was. For that, I'll send you to, where else, New York magazine, where you will be regaled with stories about allegations of illegal campaign contributions, straw donors, associates with ties to the Gambino crime family, and a fun little incident in a bar in 1999 where Grimm, once an undercover FBI agent, allegedly threatened to make a bar patron "disappear", left, came back, threatened him with a gun, left again, came back again, and used his FBI authority to put everyone in the club up against the wall in order to find him later on in the night (key quote: "All the white people get out of here").

This man serves in Congress. He gets to help lead America.

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