I visited the Web pages of the entire Missouri Republican House delegation, Reps. Ann Wagner (R-2), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-3), Vicky Hartzler (R-4), Jason Smith (R-8), Sam Graves (R-6), and Billy Long (R-7). I wanted to see what they had to say about the President’s State of the Union Address (SOTU).
So how did the Missouri arm of the carping and always obstructionist Party of No react to the President pointing out a few facts. Are they embarrassed about how they behaved in the past now that Obamacare seems to be performing as intended, the United States economy is ginning up and putting the lie to the austerian economic policies still advocated by the GOP although they are failing dismally in Europe, slow and cautious foreign policy is showing signs of succeeding in a dangerous world where military bluster of the sort advocated by the GOP has proven disastrous, and French economist Thomas Piketty has shown us that we need to rescue the middle class with a big dose of redistributive religion, which is just what the President has ordered?
The answer is not much. There was only one notable coinage; Rep. Wagner has dubbed the new GOP Congress The New American Congress. I think she hopes it’ll catch on. Otherwise our Republican guys and gals in Washington followed the rulebook and kept their statements short, simple, and on the tried and true message. The basic themes: Washington is the source of all bad, they are only going there to clean it up. Then they all thumbed their collective noses at the President’s hubris in suggesting that he could initiate any new programs since the Grand Old Poobahs have said no, and they were elected by the majority of the 33 percent of Americans who bothered to vote in 2014, an overweening mandate in their eyes. They conveyed this message with lots of repetition, using the same words and phrases almost interchangeably, with only minor stylistic fillips to distinguish them from each other. For instance:
— Phrases used to describe Obama, his goals and policies:
“expand the reach, size, and scope of the federal government”
“tax and spend”
“redistribute ” (i.e., income, prosperity, etc.)
“trying to divide us along class and income lines”
“same old, tired, Washington-based ideas”
“a top-down economy controlled from Washington”
“politics as usual”
” big-government policies”
” failed policies”
“the American people deserve better.”
“my way or the highway”
“the president wants to go at it alone”
“hurt our nation’s family farmers and small businesses”
“health-care costs are skyrocketing”
“Americans are struggling to find jobs”
“ignore the will of the people”
“policies and proposals that the American people rejected”
Phrases used to describe GOP, their goals and agenda:
“Government must get out of the way”
“a new direction”
“grow America’s economy – not Washington’s economy”
“remove burdensome regulations like Obamacare”
“unleash America’s energy resources”
“get Americans back to work”
“placing America’s priorities first”
“a healthy system marked by a legacy of opportunity”
“we can get Washington out of the way”
“we can do better”
“forge a new direction”
“a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda”
— Phrases used to describe what Republicans want from the President:
“work with us”
“work with this Congress ”
Obama must “stop issuing veto threats before common-sense pieces of legislation even get to his desk”
Given the relevant context it isn’t hard to interpret those last points. Translate “work with” into “roll over” and you’ve got the gist. As for the rest, I know, I know. You’ve heard them all before. And there’s lots of obvious fibs, misrepresentations, and wrong-headedness. Obamacare is doing just fine, jobs are being created faster than since before Bush, healthcare costs are going down, etc., etc. I’m sure you’re all getting as tired of trying to set these folks straight as I am, especially since it doesn’t do any good.
I’m tempted to suggest that the GOP needs to convene some new focus groups, get some new material. They don’t have to make it complicated; we know slow, simple and familiar works with the folks they try to please. But do they have to be so predictable? But then, who reads press releases anyway – apart from bloggers with OCD.
*Corrected; last item from 2nd list moves to last list.