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January 28, 2014 10:33 PM Republican Response(s)

By Ed Kilgore

Don’t know much about Cathy McMorris Rodgers, but she’s not off to a great start; sounds like a speaker at a DAR event.

7:35 Man, this is really Republican Rhetoric for Dummies, so far.

7:36 Her tribute to her son with Down’s Syndrome is touching, but seems she is trying to use him to simultaneously do a RTL shout-out and manage a ponderous transition to an Opportunity Message.

7:40 Gee, these Republicans are a regular Plan machine, aren’t they? Shame she doesn’t describe any of them.

7:41 This is pretty reminiscent of Bobby Jindal’s SOTU response. In his case, he was so clearly TALKING DOWN to the poor dumb yahoos out there. Don’t know about Rodgers.

OMG, Chuck Todd just praised Rodger’s response. Now Judy’s doing it, too, thinks she did a lot to appeal to women. Methinks they regard the audience as dumb yahoos, too.

UPDATE: Just tried to watch Mike Lee’s Tea Party Express SOTU response, but it’s a lot longer (and more detailed) than Rodgers’ and since he still seems to be talking, I can’t watch it yet from the beginning. It’s clear from the prepared text his mission is to address the Tea Folks’ reputation for obstruction and inability to find anything positive government can do other than policing the behavior of women. So there’s a long string of bills he and his buddies (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, John Cornyn, Jim Jordan, Tom Graves, Rand Paul, and Mike Pompeo all got shout-outs) are proposing, which adds up, he says, to a “reform agenda.”

But what’s fascinating about the speech is Lee’s effort to claim (apparently motivated by early media reports that this would be Obama’s main theme) that inequality is all caused by government. Dig it:

Inequality - real inequality - is trapping poor children in failing schools to benefit bureaucrats and union bosses. It’s penalizing low-income parents for getting married, or getting better jobs.
It’s guaranteeing insurance companies taxpayer bailouts if Obamacare cuts into their profits.
Inequality is blocking thousands of middle-class jobs in the energy industry as a favor to partisan donors and radical environmental activists.
Inequality is denying viable, unborn children any protection under the law, while exempting unsanitary, late-term abortion clinics from basic safety standards.
It’s denying citizens their right to define marriage in their states as traditionally or as broadly as their diverse values dictate.
It’s the federal government hurting rural communities, especially in the west, by controlling and mismanaging public lands.
It’s changing laws without congressional approval, and spying on American citizens without constitutional authority.
And of course, Obamacare - all by itself - is an inequality Godzilla that has robbed working families of their insurance, their doctors, their wages and their jobs. Many Americans are now seeing why some of us fought so hard to stop this train-wreck over the last four years.

Now you can oppose a lot of these things if you want, but that’s your litany of inequality? States not getting to ban same-sex marriage? Companies not being allowed to frack to their hearts’ delight?

Nowhere, absolutely nowhere in this picture are the people who own and run the private-sector economy at whose hands most Americans receive their unequal wages, their unequal benefits, their unequal bargaining rights, and their unequal votes. And nowhere are the moral censors whose idea of “equality for women” is to consign them to the tender mercies of their servant-leader husbands, or absent that, the stern patriarchal state.

If Americans buy that, and think equality will come from a laissez-faire economy and a premodern culture, then God help us all.

UPDATE II: Rand Paul reportedly did his own SOTU response, presumably representing Liberty Lovers or something. But I’ve had enough for one day and night. If Rand said anything noteworthy, I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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