The GOP’s Dream Rebuttal

The GOP needs to break out of ‘American Gothic’ or won’t survive the 21st century.

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Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash, sits on a couch as she prepares for her response to President Barack Obama State of the Union address Jan. 28, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash, prepares for her response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

I could have a conversation about what President Obama said tonight but here's the thing: Democrats will like what I have to say and Republicans will think I'm Beelzebub straight from Hell. Blah blah blah.

So I tell you what: I'll just reflect on the GOP response.

Tonight's Republican rebuttal to the president's State of the Union address was delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. Mrs. Rodgers is a member of the House GOP leadership and came to Congress in 2005. She's a mother of three young children, grew up on an apple farm and lived the typical American life.

Tonight, Mrs. Rodgers, with the American flag proudly displayed behind her, prayed for America, for the president and gave America a rebuttal with absolutely no policy positions. None, not a single specific policy position was introduced. She did tell America "we have plans to improve our education and training programs." Great! Woo Hoo! Awesome!

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Uhm, what are those programs? [Crickets]

What we did hear however was a lot of "American Gothic." Now I love Grant Wood's 1930s painting of perhaps the homeliest people ever created. But the problem with Rep. American Gothic's 2013 rebuttal was that it was rooted and based in the 1930s.

Here are a few choice quotes, with my added flair:

"When I showed my animals at the 4-H County Fair," I never dreamed I'd be sitting right here in the U.S. Capitol on a gold silk Damask Chippendale settee made by minimum wage workers. I'm not bashing success (as if being elected to Congress is a success these days but here's to hoping). But the GOP spinmeisters would've been much smarter is they had put her in a La-Z-Boy. I'm just saying.

[Vote: Was Obama Right to Threaten So Many Executive Actions in His State of the Union?]

"The President's policies are making people's lives harder." Um, OK. I have health insurance for the first time in years, I have prescription drug coverage and if I move to New York, I can get married to my imaginary husband. Sorry Mrs. Rodgers, but his policies have made my life more equal to your insured, married happy life.

Look, Rodgers is a nice person, by all accounts. I've never heard a bad word about her from anyone, Republican or Democrat. She told us tonight that the GOP "plan is one that dreams big for everyone." Well frankly, the last thing in the world I need is to be told I can dream. I know that. I do that all the time.

Mrs. Rodgers, I dream every day I find someone to love and marry. You and your party are against that dream and have voted against my dream constantly.

Mrs. Rodgers, I dream every day that women across America are allowed to have a modicum of privacy when state legislators across this country are insisting on vaginal probes. You voted against that privacy today.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Mrs. Rodgers, I dream my friend Jacinto and his wife are never deported from America where they'd be separated from their three American children. You've voted against them.

Mrs. Rodgers, I dream that no black American is ever denied the right to vote. What's your position on that? Are you helping draft a rewrite of the Voting Rights Act as directed by the Supreme Court?

I dream Mrs. Rodgers, I dream a lot. You and your party should do me and every other American a favor: Begin living in the 21st century. To do otherwise will spell the end of the Grand Old Party and as a Democrat I don't think that's healthy for either our collective democracy or for our republic.

Let me end with this. What is it with the GOP's drought? Mrs. Rodgers' gulps and dry swallows were ... well for God's sake, someone give her some water! Between Florida Sen. Marco Rubio last year and Rodgers tonight, they're out of water. They're out of policies. They're simply out of last gasps. The GOP drought of ideas and policies isn't just palpable, it's making me thirsty!

  • Read Peter Fenn: Obama's State of the Union Had the Right Message and Tone
  • Read Jamie Stiehm: Obama's State of the Union Hit the Right Notes But Won't Move Congress
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, an insider's guide to politics and policy.