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Friday, October 21, 2016

WASHINGTON — Republicans took multiple tries to deliver their reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

In addition to the officially sanctioned Republican Party response by Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a Spanish-language version by Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Tea Party Express faction continued its practice of delivering a separate speech, this year by Utah Senator Mike Lee.

And Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had delivered the Tea Party Express response last year, staked out his own turf this year with a YouTube address. Nor was that the only response from his family. His father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, held an interactive town hall with supporters during and after the address.

For a party fighting the perception it’s at war with itself, the competing speeches were an unwelcome and very public reminder of the divisions that remain. Although including some common themes focused on the economy and smaller government, the rival addresses highlighted the intraparty battles that could undermine the GOP’s chances of winning key Senate contests in upcoming elections.

“I wish we’d speak with one voice. I really do,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ). “The American people need to have one message from the Republican Party.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, the first woman to deliver a Republican response to the annual presidential address, said party unity is not what it was when she rebutted Bill Clinton’s 1995 speech. “It’s pretty indicative of where the party is these days,” she said. “It’s spread all over the place, and that’s a challenge. It’s a real problem.”

In what was billed as the “Republican Address to the Nation,” McMorris Rodgers said she wanted to share “a more hopeful, Republican vision — one that empowers you, not the government.”

Like the other Republican responses, she acknowledged the growing opportunity gap among Americans, but blamed Obama. “Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the president’s policies are making people’s lives harder,” she said. “Republicans have plans to close the gap.”

She also addressed the troubled rollout of Obamacare, and signaled the party would offer its own alternate plan. “No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the president’s healthcare law is not working.”

In more brash terms, Lee outlined what he called a “new conservative reform agenda,” citing policy ideas from a rising generation of leaders, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. He said the economic inequality Obama spoke of was the result of a government that “takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats and special interests.”

But rather than seek to build GOP support, Lee chastised his own party, targeting his words to “those Americans who may feel they have been forgotten by both political parties. . . . To be fair, President Obama and his party did not create all of these problems. The Republican establishment in Washington can be just as out of touch as the Democratic establishment.”

  • pisces63

    After her rambling began, I turned to Chopped. What was in the baskets was much more interesting.

    • daniel bostdorf


  • Dominick Vila

    Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers delivered an inspiring speech about the virtues of determination and hard work to succeed. Unfortunately, her speech did not provide even a tiny glimpse of what the Republicans believe we need to overcome the socio-economic problems we still have, especially income inequality and job creation. There is no question that motivation, determination, and hard work are the ingredients necessary to succeed, but while that is true on an individual basis, it is not enough to attain the skill mix needed to succeed in the 21st century, it does not create jobs, and it does not remove the obstacles that impair the ability of millions of Americans to succeed.

    As for Lee, Cruz, Paul and the rest of the gang, what infuriates me is the willingness of the “liberal” media to give them a forum. Their claims and criticisms of President Obama’s SOTU address suggest that either they will asleep at the wheel while the president was talking, or they think we were. Suggesting that the President did not provide specifics only convinces those who go to bed a 8 pm and missed the whole speech, and are too lazy to Google it today and read what the president said. Most importantly, with the exception of the usual anti-Obamacare diatribes and the usual claims, such as a member of Congress losing his insurance policy because of ACA, the only specifics they provided was Cruz’s assertion that letting the Koch brothers build the Keystone pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, and their collective refusal to extend unemployment benefits to people who cannot find work. Why does anyone listen to and respect clowns like these is beyond me, and why is the media fixated on their opinion defies logic. That is, unless the goal is to highlight their lack of ideas and constructive solutions to the problems at hand.

    On the subject of ACA, the President challenged the detractors to come up with constructive improvements to the program. Any bets on how many process improvements are going to come out of the GOP. My guess is one: repeal ACA.

    • 788eddie

      Thank you, Dominick. Once again, you are spot on.

    • daniel bostdorf

      You said it all! Especially this “what infuriates me is the willingness of the “liberal” media to give them a forum.”

      As I watched Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers—I thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody.

      • siobhanne

        “I thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody.” I couldn’t have said it better.

      • Sand_Cat

        Well said. But you didn’t mention that there really is no “liberal” media in the sense that phrase is used. Sure, there’s NM and others like it, but they’re probably dwarfed in number by the wing-nut sites. And the corporate media haven’t been liberal in decades, if they ever were.

        • sigrid28

          Good point. What corporate media does do is dwell on false equivalencies, such as offering the Republican view that climate change does not exist as if it carried the same credence as the Democratic view that climate change is a fact of life–period. Watch CNN to see examples of this style of “fair” journalism any day. I applaud MSNBC for deciding to skip the Lee and Paul responses to the State of the Union altogether and giving the president’s remarks the full attention that they deserved.

    • Independent1

      Campaign donation records show that media outlets contribute far more to Democrat campaigns than Republicans, which is probably why the media is called ‘The Liberal Media’. Unfortunately, although media folks donate more to Democrat campaigns, it appears that most media journalists and outlets put making money above their political beliefs; and so unfortunately, ‘The Media’ is far more apt to publish the ‘negativities’ of the GOP than the ‘positiviities’ of the Democrats. Take just for example the amount of press the GOP rep got who threatened to toss the reporter off the balcony after President Obama’s speech; it rivaled the SOTU. (Negatives far outsell positives when you’re talking about attracting viewers or selling newspapers.)

      Democrats need to find a way to highlight all the GOP’s negativities; Here are some example headlines that I think would grab the public’s attention if broadcast nationally.

      – Living in a Red State is not only deleterious to your health, it will also shorten your life. (All 10 of the states with the shortest life expectancy are all Red States.)

      -Living in a Red State whose government loves the NRA, serves only to increase your chances of being killed by a gun by almost 5 times.
      (Red states by far lead the nation in gun ownership and deaths caused by firearms.)

      -Living in a Red State with very lax regulations, including those related to driving a car, increases the likelihood of you dying in an auto accident by almost 3 times. (All 25 of the states that lead the nation in highway fatalities are Red States.)

      Living in a Red State increases the probability by at least 2 times that the baby or grandchild you’re expecting will not survive its birth. (13 of the 15 states with the far highest rates of infant mortality are all red states.)

      -Voting a Republican into the Presidency is deleterious to the retirements of those investing in the stock market. (The stock market has performed multiple times better under Democrat Presidents than Republican Presidents).

      I could list a number more, but the point is, Democrats need to somehow get the message out to far more Americans just how harmful to their personal well being, Republican governance is.

    • Independent1

      And for those who haven’t seen it, here’s an article that demonstrates clearly that America doesn’t truly have a ‘Liberal Media”;

      15 things everyone would know if there were a liberal media

      1. Where the jobs went.

      2. Upward wealth redistribution and/or inequality

      3. ALEC

      4. Number of people in American prisons

      5 Number of black people in prison

      6. U.S. healthcare cost highest in the world

      7. Glass-Steagall

      8. Gerrymandering

      9. Number of bills blocked by Republicans in Congress

      10. The Citizens’ United SCOTUS decision

      11. Nixon’s Southern Strategy

      12. Tax Cuts primarily benefit the wealthy

      13. What’s happening to the bees

      14. The impact of temp workers on the economy

      15. Media Consolidation

      Here’s the link if you care to read up on any of these.

    • 4sanity4all

      You found Ms. Rogers speech inspiring? I found it disingenuous. She said the President’s policies were harming Americans; I would ask her what policies he was able to enact, that the Republicans did not refuse to discuss, or vote on. Or that they did not force him to modify. Or that they did not vote, again and again, to defund, even though the ACA was law. So, Republicans are assuredly not part of the solution.
      Her assertion that the ACA is harmful is also a lot of hot air. I now have a top quality policy which gives me access to the best doctors and hospitals around here, with no exclusions, and I am now actually receiving healthcare for my premium. Before the ACA, I paid my premium and got nothing, and all of my healthcare came entirely out of my pocket. It was a total rip off.
      The rest of her speech gave me a headache, it was so full of contradictions and half true talking points, I lost track of how much baloney she was spewing. And I was ashamed that she is a woman, she has so little empathy for women who are not born to privilege, I wanted to get her a pair of glasses so she could see reality.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    When will the Republican party realize that as long as the Tea Party insists on having their own “rebuttal” speech to anything the President says, the Party will continue to look like the dog that is being wagged by the tail.

  • FT66

    Unbelievable! Three different speeches and all belong to one Party! Which speech should people take seriously and which ones they have to ignore? Is this not like mixing up sugar, salt and sand together? What kind of a mixture will be produced? By the way, aren’t the GOP always insisting that Latinos must learn English? Why now using the language they always don’t accept?

    • Allan Richardson

      The question as always is “Donde estan las votas?”

      Sorry, I don’t have a keyboard with Spanish punctuation.

  • terry b

    I have come into the bad habit as referring to the GOP as the Nazi party because of their treatment of women, minorities and gay people. If they are completely abhorrent on social issues I have no choice but to believe that they are very wrong on fiscal issues. The GOP never has any kind of reasonable answer on how to deal with economic issues other than how they can improve the lives of the very wealthy. All of their speeches are basically nothing but inane babble. Well worded but have little meaning to anyone who has an educated background while they constantly pontificate on the many problems facing this country. I would like to move the country forward, not backward.

    • dpaano

      Unfortunately, so many people believe every word they say!!!

      • terry b

        Except tor those who have their facts straight, like myself. I always use google to verify the truth from a bald faced lie.

    • Sand_Cat

      We call them “the Nazis” in my house, too.
      Years ago, it was hyperbole used for effect. These days, not so much.

      • terry b

        You do know your stuff, as do I.

  • latebloomingrandma

    I think the whole idea of a response from the opposite party is ridiculous. The constitution requires the President to give a report as to the state of the union. Period. This is his/her duty. Having a “response”, kind of like sour grapes, is actually irrelevant to the report. It diminishes it and places it entirely in the lap of politics, when Americans just the deserve the facts and the vision of the chief executive.

  • siobhanne

    Ms. Cathy said “Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right
    now, the president’s policies are making people’s lives harder.” “Republicans have plans to close the gap.”
    Republicans always have plans to make things better, they just can’t ever tell us what they are. If they could match the President’s plans, point for point with sane alternatives they might not seem like a crazed group of nut jobs who’re suffering from we-hate-obama-itis.

    • Sand_Cat

      But as you know, there’s no way they could match Obama’s speech point by point without exposing their intellectual and moral bankruptcy; in fact, it’s doubtful they could match it at all.

    • ThomasBonsell

      Republicans always tell us what their plans are, and those plans never change,

      They are: Cut taxes for the aristocracy, deregulate the out-of-control corporations, start wars that ordinary Americans must fight and pay for, eliminate jobs and call that “economic freedom” or “empowerment”, reduce government assistance to the unfortunate, increase government intrusion in our private lives, and forget that these policies in the 1920s led to the Great Depression; to Ronald Reagan’s saving-and-loan disaster of the 1980s and an increase of 69% in government spending and 188.6% increase in the debt, and George W. Bush’s still-lingering Great Recession, 89% increase in both government spending and debt, a deficit of $1.55 trillion, 9 million jobs lost and a GDP that lost 5.1% of value in Bush’s last year in office with a final quarter shrinking at a rate of 9.1%, if extended over a full year.

      But those plans will create an economic paradise next time. Sure they will.

  • dpaano

    What is really interesting, but not surprising, is how the Tea Party responders keep trying to turn the blame towards the president for all the problems. They keep saying that Obamacare isn’t working…..but, if you ask many people, it definitely IS working. They contradict themselves so many times about what’s happening in our Congress. If the president was doing such a bad job and they were doing such a good job, why are the ratings for the Congress in the single digits!!! Do they not see what’s in front of them with any clarity or are they blind as bats!!!

  • Raven

    If a tree falls in the forest and no republican is there to hear it, is it still Obama’s fault?

    • siobhanne


  • howa4x

    What I saw in the republican response is that there is an unawareness of who they are and how some of them benefited from the very programs they now disavow. Paul Ryan’s family benefited from SSI after his fathers death. Imagine if they became homeless instead? Not everyone in the country has the skillset to overcome obstacles and it’s not one size fits all. What none of them could counter is how their plans will make it better. Obama was specific and the official republican response was general with the standard republican mantra of less government. But can less government help raise the minimum wage? Or protect our waterways from what we saw happen in WVa.?
    The 3 responses also showed America that the republican party has broken into pieces, with the ultra right, libertarian right and regulation conservatives taking turns messaging. Also added to the mixture of the new GOP soup is all the blogospheres, talking heads, FOX, Rush and the gang staking out their own territory as well as these different sub pieces. This will make for a garbled message, and GOP central will be on a “this is not what they really meant to say” tour. Like they did with Huckabee. Get used to it
    What we are watching is a fight for dominance in the party. The Christie quagmire isn’t helping the GOP regulars have a war horse that can carry a dominant message, and this has opened fissures that Paul, Cruz, Lee and others can exploit for their own gain.
    So who really speaks for the GOP? That will be the question to watch, and it better get straightened out since their polling is showing them underwater.

  • Justin Napolitano

    Same old republican garbage spewed by some new people and some old.
    McMorris spoke in platitudes and offered noting new and in fact offered nothing at all. She says that the Republicans have all of these great ideas but refused to mention them. And the reason she didn’t mention them is that we have heard them all a million times and know they are nothing but baloney.

    • Independent1

      Yeah! We recently heard one of their great new ideas which was obviously outlined and mostly written by America’s insurance sector – the GOP’s alternative to the ACA – a more expensive healthcare giveaway to the insurance lobby.