If you ever have a chance to deliver the response to the State of the Union address, the best thing to do is schedule a medical procedure for that afternoon.
If you ever have a chance to deliver the response to the State of the Union address, the best thing to do is schedule a medical procedure for that afternoon.This is a practice that is inherently flawed. Why is a person chosen to deliver the response? The president doesn’t pick someone to deliver the State of the Union address. The president owns that speech. Since George Washington began the practice, no one other than the President has ever given the speech. But the response – which only became common practice in 1966 with the advent of television coverage of the speech – is just given by a member of the opposing party. The selected person is being exposed. It is one of the most difficult situations in which to succeed. Lately, the person selected to respond to Barack Obama has been an up-and-coming member of the GOP. Each time, that person has left the stage with less political capital than they had before. This year it was Marco Rubio. No one in the GOP is hotter. He is young. He is smooth. His ideas are solid. He is a member of a very valuable minority group. But on Tuesday night he was deemed to have failed because he needs water to survive. Come on, folks. It is cold and flu season. I’m sure Rubio wasn’t the only person giving a speech in February who needed a drink of water. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was the first person to follow Obama in 2009. He was an up-and-comer who came and went. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell sat in the hot seat in 2010. His star is certainly not rising. Paul Ryan survived the curse of the response that he gave in 2011 and was still chosen to be on the ticket in 2012. But that had everything to do with his budget prowess and nothing to do with this speech. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels played the part in 2012. He did himself no favors. There needs to be an established person to give this response. And it doesn’t need to be the top dog in your party. This is a made-for-TV event. The president with some of the best speech writers in the world and a huge audience of applause hounds just rattled off a to-do list for the year. All of the hot buttons have been pushed. Victims are recognized. Heroes are honored. The energy in the Capitol Building is palpable. Then you have to stand in a sound stage with no one but a camera operator and a couple of lackeys telling you when to talk. You can’t match the energy. You can’t bring out your own set of heroes and victims. There is no drama. There is no energy. Not to mention the world’s biggest home-court advantage. The President sets the tone and picks the topics. All you can do is respond. The parties need to see this inequity and stop putting sacrificing their best people to the most impossible situation. Send out Reince Priebus. He is never going to run for office but he can speak for Republicans. There is no way to win when the odds are stacked so far in the other guy’s favor. You are better off sacrificing a pawn than a bishop. Hopefully, someone figures this out before 2014.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.