The State of the Union is on Tuesday. I am making plans on watching it here in Colorado.
One of the aspects of the State of The Union is the opposition party's response. The first one delivered was after President Johnson's 1966 State of The Union and it was by Senator Everett Dirksen (R, IL) and House Republican Leader Gerald Ford of Michigan. It was actually not uncommon that the party not in the White House would have several people deliver the opposition party's response. In 1968, Republicans had 8 Senators and 8 Representatives give their party's response. After Reagan's 1984 State of The Union, Democrats had 7 Senators and 5 Representatives including Speaker of The House Thomas "Tip" O'Neil.
Many well known politicians have delivered the opposition response and can be seen on these Wikipedia pages (Democratic, Republican).
Tradition changed in 1990 when Democrats went with one person to deliver the opposition response when US House Speaker Tom Foley was the only person to give the Democratic response to that year's State of The Union. When Bill Clinton delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress in February 1993, Republicans chose Bob Michel from Illinois to deliver the opposition's response. Though there were some cases where the opposition was delivered by two people, it is recent that one person delivers the opposition's response.
Since taking office, 6 persons have delivered the Republican response to President Obama's address to Congress. Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers will be the 6th person to do so and the first Republican woman to deliver it alone. She is the first Republican woman to deliver the opposition since Senator Susan Collins of Maine did it with Tennessee Senator William Frist in 2000. The last woman to deliver a solo State of The Union response was then-Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2008.
Representative McMorris Rodgers is an interesting choice. If you recall, the Washington congresswoman was a spokesperson for the Romney campaign in 2012. In April 2012, she went on Meet The Press to claim that her party's "War on Women" was a myth. McMorris Rodgers also signed onto the Protect Life Act during the 112th Congress which was one of many anti-abortion bills proposed by the US House.
McMorris Rodgers also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and also voted against the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act.
If this is the Republican Party's way of attracting female voters in future elections, they are clearly doing it wrong.
But it gets better.
Not only is McMorris Rodgers delivering the official Republican response, but two other Republicans are giving responses. Utah Senator Mike Lee is giving the Tea Party response which kind of surprises me and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is expected to deliver a response.
Senator Lee ran to the right of incumbent Senator Bob Bennett in the 2010 Republican Primary on a platform of repealing the 17th Amendment, which allowed the direct election of US Senators by the voters instead of by state legislatures. In that same election year, Rand Paul gained notoriety in an interview with Rachel Maddow by stating that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
Given her history in voting against women's issues, McMorris Rodgers is probably not the best spokesperson to highlight the party's improvement when it comes to dealing with real world issues. Actually it got worse with comments made by former Arkansas Governor, 2008 presidential candidate, and Fox quote-unquote News host Mike Huckabee at the RNC's winter meeting.
Having two other speakers who are members of the same party delivering the opposition response is nothing more than attention seeking and shows that the party is really in disarray in the Obama Presidency Era.
Instead of uniting around one speaker for the opposition response, Republicans are having three various people with different backgrounds and followings. McMorris Rodgers is representative of the old guard Republicans, Mike Lee represents the Tea Party, and Rand Paul has his own following from his father and is rumored to be considering a presidential run for
Having these varying opposition responses and the choice of people delivering these responses shows that the Republican Party have a long way before being taken seriously as a political party in upcoming elections.