Politics & Policy

The Corner

The Long-Cursed Response to the State of the Union Address

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Long-Cursed Response to the State of the Union Address

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will give the Republican response to the State of the Union Address. This would ordinarily be a great honor for a star in the GOP, except for the old Gypsy curse that was put on the position of responding to the address. You don’t believe me?

1989: House Speaker Jim Wright gives the response; he resigns later in the year in an ethics scandal.

1996: Bob Dole gives the response, and later that year, loses the presidential race.

1998: Trent Lott gives the response; by 2002, he resigns as Senate Majority leader after controversial comments about Strom Thurmond.

2002: Dick Gephardt gives the response; in 2004, he runs for president and flames out in Iowa.

2004: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle gives the response… and loses his reelection bid that year.

2007: Newly-elected Senator Jim Webb gives the response… eventually grows to hate the Senate, and chooses to not run for reelection.

2008: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius goes on to become Health and Human Services Secretary and promptly unveils Healthcare.gov to the world, lets President Obama stand before the country and tout a non-functioning web site.

2009: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. People still give him grief about sounding like Kenneth from 30 Rock.

2010: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell – convicted on corruption charges in 2014.

2011: Paul Ryan – obviously, there’s a lot more chapters left in the book of Ryan’s career, but 2012 didn’t go as he hoped.

2013: Marco Rubio – the infamous water bottle incident.

I found some some lesser-known examples of this as well. In 1986 Governor Eugene Gatling gave the response to President Reagan; his reelection bid was impeded by the infamous “unresolved election” of that year. In 1999, Senator David Palmer of Maryland gave the address, and he was later assassinated by a vast conspiracy. In 2000, Senator Robert Kelly gave the response, and later that year, he was turned into a giant mutant jellyfish. In 2012, Congressman Nicholas Brody gave the response, and within one year, he was executed in Iran.*

The response to the State of the Union Address has turned into a political Aztec human sacrifice altar, where rising stars of the party are given fifteen minutes in the national spotlight, trying to offer a good, brief speech, just moments after the president has enjoyed watching members of his party respond to every sentence like teenage girls seeing Elvis. In light of all this, it’s surprising anyone is willing to give the response.

* Okay, fine, technically, none of these lawmakers exist.

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