The SOTU address carried with it no surprises: President Obama cares. The Republicans do not. Obama had a clear message, eloquently expressed. The GOP response came from four different people who did not agree with each other except their opposition to all things Obama.
It is hardly a surprise that the fractured Republican Party could not be satisfied with a single response. It is hardly a surprise they could not find a up-and-coming superstar to make that response.
The Republican Party is a party without heroes. What they gave us says more about what is wrong with the Republican Party and its policies than what is right.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) gave the official response. As Justin Baragona wrote last night – and after reviewing it this morning I have to agree – it was awful, a point-by-point rebuttal of each of the president’s points.
Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gave what MSNBC calls “an amended version of the same speech in Spanish.” Why she had to amend it is not clear. Do not Spanish-speakers need to know the same information as English speakers?
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) gave the pro-business, anti-government “we hate people” response on behalf of the Tea Party live streamed via the Tea Party Express.
Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, apparently not trusting even Republican women, decided to make his own response on his You Tube channel. Like Lee, he blamed the government for America’s poor.
In short, what Tuesday night demonstrated to every American and to the world, is that President Obama has a plan and that Republicans do not. The Republicans spent the entire time looking petulant and angry while Democrats gave Obama standing ovation after standing ovation.
This is a Republican Party that is so determined to make the Obama presidency a failure that it threatens to impeach him if he shows any sign of accomplishing even the smallest things. They are saying, for everyone to hear, that they have nullified the vote of the American people and don’t you dare try to do anything about it.
The Republicans, while accusing Obama of a coup, are those who have launched a coup. Nothing in the Constitution gives them the right to do what they have done, or what they intend to do. Obama gave Americans hope. Republicans say, “We can’t have that.”
We can expect Obama to be true to his word, to try to make the promise of his SOTU a reality. We can expect Republicans to obstruct that progress every step of the way. But the real stakes are not Obama’s promising agenda but the 2014 midterm elections. Republicans think they can take full control of Washington between 2014 – by gaining control of the Senate while retaining control of the House – and by seizing the presidency in 2016.
They think they can do this through hate, through negation, through nihilism. I think they are being hopelessly optimistic about their chances. Americans don’t like Republicans much and they like the Tea Party least of all. The Republicans pretend to champion women but women are not fooled. They pretend a desire for immigration reform while hating immigrants. Latinos are not fooled.
The only people Republicans are fooling are themselves. People want hope. People want to feel good. They don’t want to feel bad, and Republicans have no hope to offer, only more of the same policies Americans have rejected for eight years. Obama offers us a way forward. The GOP wants to haul us back.
President Obama last night showed Americans why they voted for him in the first place. Republicans showed Americans why they did not vote for McCain in ’08 and Romney in ’12.
And why Americans should not vote Republican in 2014 and 2016: Because a vote for the GOP is a vote against hope.