SOTU tonight – Don’t Respond to the Message

Tonight is the annual State of the Union speech.  It will probably be the usual mix of soaring rhetoric and a laundry list of proposals (most of which go nowhere).  There have been very few memorable SOTUs.  The one Bush gave in 2003 was the last one I really remember because it told the world we were going to war with Iraq (we all know how well that turned out).

This is also the chance for the other party to respond.  Most of these are usually very forgettable.  The only one I remember is Jim Webb’s response where he broke with tradition and didn’t try to respond to everything Bush said but focused on two issues he cared about.

As a sign of how united they are right now, the GOP will have three responses to the speech.  First, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington delivers the GOP’s  official response. Then Utah Senator Mike Lee will give the Tea Party response (has the novelty of this worn off yet?). Lastly, Rand Paul will give the official “Rand Paul Response” to the speech.  Why?  Why the fuck not.

For a politician it seems like a suicide mission to give the party’s response to the SOTU.  First, no one really cares.  Second, you can’t compete with the imagery of the President being before Congress and your being in a studio.  Lastly, it creates a real chance for a big screw up (Marco Rubio) or a big letdown (Bob Dole responding to Clinton in 1996).




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