Later this evening we will be treated to the annual State of the Union Address. People who know what they know about everything are so cool they use the hashtag-worthy abbreviation: SOTU. Don’t forget the hashtag.
What’s the “number sign” for, you ask? Well, in this day and age, the “pound sign” is a “hashtag”, used to denote a special order of things on social media. People hashtag all sorts of things now, every state has a hashtag, as do every city. You can add a hashtag to your name, i.e. #TimForkes.
Put that on Twitter and Facebook and watch yourself start trending. Of course it helps to do something noteworthy so people have a reason to trend you with a hashtag. Only a few special people can just have the names get hashtagged and trend just for being … them. Like the Kardashians or Paris Hilton. Or #PresidentObama.
So, it’s not a number or pound sign, it’s a hashtag.
Anyway, tonight #PresidentObama will be giving his #SOTU Address before a #jointsession of #Congress, starting at about 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
We all know what he’s going to say. You know how we know? Because the White House press office distributes copies of the speech about 24 ahead of time so politicians, reporters and otherwise unemployed pundits can talk about it to death before the speech.
And then the speech happens and afterwards they gather around their various converted lunch counters and discuss the speech as if they had no idea what the president was going to say. I always watch the confab on MSNBC because they speak my language and they have the token conservatives like former RNC chair and Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele and they guy played by Woody Harrelson in that HBO movie about Sarah Palin … Game Change is the movie … (Googling) … Steve Schmidt. He’s the other token conservative on MSNBC and of course other conservatives consider Steele and Schmidt to be #RINO — Republican In Name Only.
Shoot, I should have been hashtagging everything.
#SarahPalin #GameChange #WoodyHarrelson — Schmidt and Steele ain’t cool enough to get their own hashtags.
The president gives his #SOTU — which looks alarmingly enough like #STFU — and then the TV talkers spend the next few minutes chattering about it, like they did for the 48 hours leading up to the speech. It’s only a few minutes because the custom is, and it’s been an unofficial official custom since 1966, the opposition party gives their response to the #SOTU.
Most opposition responses to the #SOTU are boring, uninspired rebuttals that are for the most part, predictable because no matter how good things might be, the opposition always has to oppose.
This year the Republicans will be rebutting the president with newly minted senator Joni Ernst, Junior Senator from the great state of Iowa. What’s her claim to fame? She knows how to castrate pigs. People just love that imagery; it’s the main reason she was elected.
This is the candidate who told Iowa voters the Obama Administration was partnering with the United Nations to round up Iowa farmers and force them into urban work camps in a plan called “Agenda 21.” It appears Senator Ernst is a bit of a conspiracy theorist.
This is who the GOP is putting up to give their party a face for the country. Joni Ernst may have appealed to a large enough minority of Iowa voters to get elected to the Senate, but the rest of the country will be wondering, “Is this the last nail in the GOP’s coffin.” Joni Ernst is one more example of why all elections matter.
But, this has been the habit of the GOP the past few years: get the goofiest, or most inept Republican they can find and have them deliver the GOP response to the president’s State of the Union Address. They never have any real solutions to the nation’s pressing issues, they just like to tell us how bad it is and to be very, very afraid.
There was Bobby Jindal, the newly minted governor of Louisiana. He had the unenviable task of rebutting … nothing actually. President Obama had only been in office a few days and had no legislative or policy record to counter with the GOP response. Instead, the amateur told America about how bad the previous administration was, a Republican president, and gosh darn it, the GOP was going to fix the problems they had caused by … more of the same policies that caused the economic meltdown and — close to Jindal’s heart — the disaster that was the Hurricane Katrina recovery.
Next up, in 2010, it was Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. He delivered his response with an audience behind him from the capital building in Richmond, VA. People loved it, it was great … until he and his wife were indicted on corruption charges. Now he’s either in prison or waiting for his date to enter prison.
The following year, 2011, got special for the GOP. They had not one, but two responses to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Paul Ryan, GOP wonder boy and erstwhile congressman from Wisconsin, had viewers turning to something else on TV. He wanted us to know he didn’t really mean he wanted to end Medicare as we know it.
The real Republican treat came after Ryan: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann gave the official Tea Party response. She had charts and graphs and a picture of the Marine Corps Memorial in Washington … and a vacant stare off into the ether of off-camera land. It is probably still one of the most memorable moments in State of the Union history.
After Michele Bachmann and … who was the official GOP guy? Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana trotted out the notion of being a nation of “haves and soon to haves …” during the 2012 GOP response. That was the big Republican talking point at the time because the GOP primary season was under way and über rich Mitt Romney was on his way to securing the nomination to be his party’s losing candidate in the 2012 presidential elections.
If ever the GOP looked like the party of the rich and powerful before, having Mitt and all the other millionaires out there on the campaign trail solidified that stereotype.
On the one hand, Governor Daniels was lamenting the lack of enrichment for the poor and middle class in this, the now longest recovery in U.S. history. But then his party was spouting Ayn Rand and calling poor people “takers,” as well as every veteran who draws a government check or benefit. It was later that years when we were treated to Romney’s “47 percent” vignette. The only time he had ever used the term was behind the closed doors of campaign fundraisers. What they didn’t count on was a waiter with a really good smart phone.
At any rate, we’ve forgotten about Governor Daniels so he’s off the presidential radar for now.
Two years ago the crème of the Republican Party took up the mantle of Loyal Opposition. Which is funny because the GOP has been anything but loyal since Barack Obama took the oath of office. They’ve been obstructionists, anti-poor and middle class and — oh yeah — racist, but loyal? Not really.
Some members of the GOP just put it right out there and then try to cover their asses by claiming it isn’t racist.
Marco Rubio though, crème of the GOP is not one of those people. Heck, he’s Hispanic—of Cuban descent no less—and his response started out great. Everyone thought that 2013 would be the year they finally—FINALLY—hit a homerun with the GOP response to President Obama.
But then the good senator from the great state of Florida began to get dry mouth; constantly licking and wiping his lips and then it went downhill from there. As Jon Stewart might say — roll the tape.
Comedians lived on that for months. Just recently Rubio appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote a new book and Stewart made a passing reference to the water. It got laughs from the audience and a smile from Rubio.
Last year we had another woman deliver the response: Kathy McMorris-Rodgers … who? She’s a congresswoman from the great state of Washington. They legalized smoking marijuana for recreational use. What was memorable about her address? Nothing — which for the GOP was a step in the right direction.
She did tell us she worked at the McDonald’s drive-thru and met a guy while serving in Congress and got married. And, like every good Republican, wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even though it’s working.
Millions of previously un-insured people have been insured and the cost of health care has slowed down and is expected to start going down. No real solutions proposed, other than the perennial tax cuts for everyone routine and the “repeal Obamacare” chant that has been the mainstay of the GOP for the past six years. I’ve lost count of how many votes the Republicans have had to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
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This year the president is going to talk about national security. Many in the loyal opposition want him to re-escalate the war in Iraq and send ground troops into Syria. Remember in 2008 when then presidential hopeful John McCain said we should keep troops in Iraq indefinitely — 100 years if needed. He and his cabal are back to that line, but this time with a little “I told you so” attitude behind it.
President Obama will talk about climate change and what he plans to do about it. And the GOP response will be all about “presidential over reach.” Bet on it. He will brag about how much better the economy is doing, and the increase in jobs — despite the obstructionist policies of the Republicans. He will talk about immigration and giving a path to citizenship to millions of unducmented people.
The president is going to call for lower taxes on the middle class and a hike in the minimum wage, both very popular in the country right now. He is also going to ask to raise taxes on the wealthy — also very popular right now. Even with the rank and file Republicans. The Republicans are back to their “Class Warfare” argument so look for that in most, if not all, four of the GOP responses tonight.
“Four,” you ask? Yes. There is the official response by the hog castrator, and then three from various Tea party groups that want o get their two cents worth in front of the American people who are still watching.
It will be an entertaining night on television. The best broadcast will be on C-SPAN, but the networks will have the best spin going on after the speeches. I think I’ make some popcorn.
(All photos from YouTube)
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.