A SOTU to Remember

Was that some State of the Union, or what? About halfway through I was sorry I didn’t live blog it. The thing turned into an actual event.

I want to start with a couple of peripheral things. The first peripheral thing is Kyrsten Sinema’s dress.

I assume she has enough money to purchase clothes that (a) are appropriate for the occasion and (b) fit. This is neither. Although maybe she enjoys rummaging around in thrift shops for 1980s-era bridesmaid dresses, which is what this thing looks like. I wouldn’t comment except that how people dress for any sort of official or formal occasion can reflect how those people perceive themselves. This is screaming “I need an intervention!” Loudly. It also tells us that she is blissfully lacking in self-awareness. And if she had any close women friends they would have told her not to wear it.

Yes, she wanted us to notice her. She wanted us to see that she was sitting with Republicans. Fine. And next year will be your last SOTU, lady.

The other peripheral thing was The Lecture. I understand that George Who Calls Himself Santos showed up way early and grabbed an aisle seat so that he would be near the big shots when they walked in and get in a lot of photos. And then Mitt Romney put him in his place.

Mr. Romney admonished Mr. Santos for positioning himself in a prime camera-ready spot in the chamber, saying he didn’t belong there, and had no shame.

“I didn’t expect that he’d be standing there trying to shake hands with every senator and the president of the United States,” Mr. Romney said afterward to reporters who asked about the incident, which was captured on camera and erupted on social media.

He added: “Given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the president and people coming into the room.”

Mitt was right. Unfortunately Mitt somehow ended up sitting next to Big Bird Sinema during the speech.

Now for the important stuff. I have no criticisms of the speech. The President clearly was enjoying himself. He’s got to feel good about it today. Here IMO was the most memorable part:

MTG, who also had some fashion issues, made a bigger ass of herself than Kyrsten Sinema. But hell yes Republicans want to kill Social Security and Medicare. Maybe not all of them, but a substantial percertage of them do. That was something I wrote about a few days ago. You might remember the headline —

And see Republicans, Eyeing Majority, Float Changes to Social Security and Medicare from the New York Times, November 2022 (no paywall).

Some of them want to kill Social Security and Medicare so badly that they seem determined to utterly destroy the U.S. economy so that there won’t be any choice but to cut Social Security and Medicare.  Yes, they’ve talked recently about sunsetting; them. Yes, they’ve talked recently about raising the age for claiming benefits. No one is imagining this. There has been credible reporting on this, in some newspapers at least.

Just two days ago, Business Insider reported that Some GOP lawmakers aren’t quite ready to take Medicare and Social Security out of the debt limit battle — even after Kevin McCarthy said the matter is ‘off the table’. Just last week former Veep Mike Pence was making noises about privatizing Social Security. That’s another zombie idea that won’t die. In the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik writes,

Former Vice President Mike Pence dipped his toes into the presidential campaign waters Feb. 2 with a proposal that would mean the death of Social Security.  …

…That’s when Pence unearthed the old Republican idea of privatizing Social Security wholly or partially….

… Pence didn’t say outright that he advocates killing Social Security. Instead, he took the course I reported on just last week. That’s the Republican and conservative habit of employing plausible-sounding jargon and economists’ gibberish to conceal their intention to hobble the program.

But make no mistake: Diverting any significant portion of Social Security taxes into private accounts would make the program unworkable, funnel untold wealth into the hands of Wall Street promoters and leave millions of families destitute.

Josh Marshall writes Press Is Way Behind on Social Security FlimFlam (no paywall).

The prime movers in the House spent most of last year pushing for major cuts to Social Security that would be at the top of their agenda if they reclaimed the Congress. McCarthy and others tried to rein them in a bit or rather get them to be quieter. But not much.

For most political reporters, this is like it used to be with “voter fraud.” My colleague David made the proper analogy in an editorial conversation this morning. It used to be that lots of reporters thought, “It turns out Republicans are pretty exercised about voter fraud and they seem to think there’s a lot of it. So, well, glad they’re on the case!” Over the last decade they’ve rightly taken a far more jaundiced view of this kind of malicious and deceptive GOP politicking. But when it comes to Social Security, Medicare and other social insurance programs they’re still basically there.

Maybe the press is cautious about reporting this stuff because to a sensible person making changes that would in anyway reduce Social Security payments or Medicare coverage is just unthinkable. But Republicans are not sensible people.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Sarah Sanders’ rebuttal speech, which I understand was weird. I just want to respond to this quote from her talk:

Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols…all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is—your Freedom of speech.”

First, I well remember the culture war was declared by Pat Buchanan in 1992. And it’s been Republicans who have perpetrated the thing all these years. Of course, that doesn’t mean we hadn’t been at war before 1992. But the terms of the war shift. It went from desegregation to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Affirmative Action through our failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and eventually to same sex marriage rights. And the Right has, basically, been fighting in a long retreat except for abortion rights, where they’ve taken back some territory.

I don’t doubt it’s hard for them to not be able to enforce their bigotries and biases, as they could in the old days. But expecting the rest of humanity to cater to their bigotries and biases is unreasonable. As somebody said, if you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married. And considering yesterday’s post about banning books in Florida public schools, accusing the left of stripping away freedom of speech is just demented.

Anyway, back to Kyrsten Sinema’s yellow dress. I’m reading she wore matching yellow booties with it. Mercifully, the booties are not in any photos I’ve seen. It’s been reported she resells some of her used clothes and shoes on Facebook Marketplace, so expect the Big Bird dress to show up there soon.