Months after voters sent her to DC because she “grew up castrating hogs” and promised to make Washington’s big spenders “squeal”, freshman Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa delivered the official Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday evening. (There are many splinter rebuttals.)
Unfortunately, Senator Ernst took a dangerous turn down GOP SOTU rebuttal alley with a bizarre reference to bread bags on her feet in an attempt to appeal to the Americans who are harmed by her party’s policies.
Ernst was supposed to sell the idea of a Republican party that cares about the middle class and has solutions for them. Since they do not have solutions for the middle class, this was a real challenge. But we never even got to real policy, because Ernst delivered a stilted, forced, fake and awkward sounding rebuttal that was so careful and slow, she sounded like a disembodied voice recording of syllables turned into words.
If this is the best the Republican Party has, I am almost terrified for them.
“Rather than respond to the speech… ” This is how Ernst began what can only be described as awkward and fake. She stumbled over the word “Washington” and then they rolled pictures of her as a child on the splitscreen.
At one point Sen. Ernst wanted to paint herself as one of the common folk by pointing out that used to wear bread bags to school on her feet because she only had one pair of shoes. Ernst said, “You see, growing up I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry, but I was never embarrassed because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags over their feet.”
The question is, was Ernst wearing bread bags on her feet during the SOTU rebuttal?
The Republican freshman Senator called Obamacare a “failed policy”. So that was boring but predictable.
Ernst sounded like an automated robo call, reading from the teleprompter with awkward emphasis on words that made no sense, “What they grow over… THERE.”
Senator Ernst kept repeating “serious jobs bill” as if that would make it real, like Dorothy feverishly clicking her ruby red slippers together.
Ernst was tasked with responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address in a way that attacked the President without sounding like an attack. Republican leadership promised that Ernst would be selling Republican efforts to help the middle class. So right off the bat, she was handicapped by the fact that she had to sell a sad, transparent fib, given that Republicans are already freaking out over President Obama’s proposals to cut taxes for the middle class, calling them a non-starter.
Ernst continued the Republican repackage of the Keystone XL pipeline as the Keystone jobs bill, which in typical Republican fashion is a jobs bill that doesn’t actually create jobs.
Republicans are exhausting themselves trying to find new ways to justify sticking the middle class with an unfair proportion of the tax burden as they trumpet tax cuts for the rich.
Once again, Republicans thrust a fresh-faced rising star onto the national stage in one of the hardest ways possible, the State of the Union rebuttal. The Republican response to Obama has been likened to the “kiss of death” by Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“It’s almost like the kiss of death to get picked to do the Republican response. It represents an amazing opportunity to catapult yourself into the national conversation, but the risk is huge and the success rate has been minimal at best in recent years.”
Sen. Ernst joined the long list of Republicans who engaged in bizarre behavior during the State Of The Union rebuttal. It is become a tradition during the Obama years that Republicans respond to the State Of The Union by showing the country just how crazy they are.
Joni Ernst and her bread bags, join Marco Rubio’s water and Bobby Jindal’s spiral staircase in keeping the legacy of Republican SOTU response crazy alive and well.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.