Abolish the SOTU Response

A no-win scenario

A no-win scenario

The out-party’s response to a presidential State of the Union address is the Kobayashi Maru of American politics: an un-winnable scenario. There is simply no way for a given sacrificial lamb, Republican or Democrat, speaking in English or Spanish, to equal the stature of the most powerful man in the world addressing a joint session of the United States Congress. My crack research on Wikipedia reveals that only three politicians who have delivered such a response have gone on to become president: Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. And really, Gerald Ford doesn’t count because he was never elected president or vice president. Can you recall Tim Kaine’s or Kathleen Sebelius’s response to George W. Bush? Jim Webb gave an interesting response in 2007, but not interesting enough for me to remember it until reading the Wikipedia article mentioned above. There is no need to give the response because the connection between public communications and public opinion seems not to exist and most people are asleep by the time the opposition spokesman comes on the screen anyway. A Republican declaration that they are foregoing responses for the rest of Obama’s term would not affect the party’s chances in 2014 or 2016. And if Democrats want to respond to the State of the Union when the next Republican is elected president in 20 years, let them. It won’t make any difference then, either.