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A Real Barn-burner
Author: BobR    Date: 02/08/2023 14:22:50

President Biden's SOTU address last night was quite a surprise. A lot of people (probably myself included) expected a sedate defense of his record, and a hat-in-hand request for the Republicans to pass more of his agenda. Instead, he delivered a barn-burner of a speech, verbally joisting with some noisy rude Republicans (and mostly winning). This was followed by an incomprehensive word salad by Governor Sarah Huckabee (R-AR) who delivered the "rebuttal" via video.

Biden started out pleasantly, congratulating McCarthy (R-CA) for (finally) achieving the Speakership of the House, then turned around and (in a sort of Kanye/Swift moment) stated that former Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) was the best Speaker of all time. It didn't get any better for Republicans after that.

I won't even attempt to cover everything in the hour-long-plus address, but he touched on all of his successes, including extremely low unemployment, bringing COVID to the point of being a non-issue, and the incredible infrastructure bill that - as he not-so-subtly pointed out - is bringing jobs and repairs to blue AND red states.

If you missed it, you can read through the blow-by-blow coverage here (or here if you just want the highlights). Had Republicans behaved, they would have come out of this bruised and hurting. They didn't, however, and it made them look so much worse.

Prior to the address, Speaker McCarthy had stated THEY would behave at the address, and warned his fellow House Republicans not to disrupt the speech. To his obvious dismay and discomfort, they did not heed his advice.

As one might have expected, the worst offender was Marjorie "three toes" Greene, who actually wanted to bring a big balloon to the speech. When informed that was not going to be allowed, she apparently decided to dress like one. When Biden referenced Rick Scott's Republican platform plank to eliminate SS and Medicare, she hollered "You lie!".

Other Republicans joined in with protests, and Biden responded that they should look into it. After more protestations, he stated "So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?...we got unanimity." It was perfect rope-a-dope.

There were other outbursts and protestations in other parts of his speech, but the Medicare one was perfection. McCarthy's responses varied from apparent boredom to exasperation with his own party members. Despite Biden's usual occasional verbal stumbles (due to his lifelong stuttering problem), he looked much stronger and full of clear, focused energy than one would have expected from "Sleepy Joe" (to quote TFG). It's still over a year away, but he definitely made the case for re-election in 2024.

The "rebuttal" is always a sad affair in American politics that really should just go away. It's generally written (and sometimes recorded) prior to the actual SOTU, so it can (and often does) come off as dumb, with a "did you even listen to what the president just said?" absurdity. This was again the case with Huckabee's meandering unfocused barrage of catchphrases disguised as an attempt to make a coherent point. She also pasted in an overly long personal story about visiting Iraq when she was the press secretary for TFG, in an almost "stolen valor" attempt to paint herself as risking life and limb for the country. After Biden's part of the SOTU where he asked for help fixing the VA, her attempts to paint him as not caring about vets really came off as clueless.

All in all, it was a big win for Democrats, and Republicans are going to have to regroup and decide how they want to engage over the next year and a half if they want to have any hope of maintaining any power. As of now, they look like a loose collection of subgroups that can't get along, and are more interested in performance and stunts than they are in governing. Americans are watching.

13 comments (Latest Comment: 02/08/2023 23:53:15 by TriSec)
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