As soon as the President Trump’s State of the Union speech was finished, Democrats bolted for the exits. They had had enough. For nearly an hour and a half, Democrats scowled and looked abjectly miserable. Part of it is that they hate Trump; part of it is that they hate his agenda, and a large part of it is due to the fact that Hillary Clinton will never deliver a State of the Union address. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), whose grandfather is the late Robert F. Kennedy, delivered one of five Democratic rebuttals, where he rehashed some of Obama and Hillary Clinton’s slogans; he repeated the line Obama used pervasively “this is not who we are.”
It speaks to the larger issue of a party unable to fill the charismatic charm that embodied Barack Obama, while also being unable to unshackle itself from Hillary Clinton and her political baggage. Here’s some of his speech:
Russia knee-deep in our democracy.
An all-out war on environmental protection.
A Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day.
Hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets.
Bullets tearing through our classrooms, concerts, and congregations. Targeting our safest, sacred places.
And that nagging, sinking feeling, no matter your political beliefs: this is not right. This is not who we are.
It would be easy to dismiss the past year as chaos. Partisanship. Politics.
But it’s far bigger than that. This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.
For them, dignity isn’t something you’re born with but something you measure.
By your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size.
Not to mention, the gender of your spouse. The country of your birth. The color of your skin. The God of your prayers.
We choose the thousands of American communities whose roads aren’t paved with power or privilege, but with honest effort, good faith, and the resolve to build something better for their kids.
That is our story. It began the day our Founding Fathers and Mothers set sail for a New World, fleeing oppression and intolerance.
It continued with every word of our Independence – the audacity to declare that all men are created equal. An imperfect promise for a nation struggling to become a more perfect union.
It grew with every suffragette’s step, every Freedom Riders voice, every weary soul we welcomed to our shores.
And to all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar.
You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away.
Yet, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was once mocked for being thirsty and grabbing a sip of water while delivering the GOP rebuttal during the Obama presidency, Congressman Kennedy seemed to be drooling. And it wasn’t just conservatives making note of this, Politico even weighed in on the possible drool trickling down the sides of the congressman’s mouth. Like all rebuttals, they’re not fun—and both sides have been pilloried for the bad optics. Still, it’s either drool, or as Politico noted, a very healthy slathering of lip balm:
The Democratic congressman's mouth corners appeared especially shiny during his response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address — and many online were quick to accuse him of drooling during his address. The alternative theory was an overzealous application of lip balm.
His speech also included embraces of the “me too” and “Black Lives Matter” movements, and a few lines delivered in Spanish.
But, if Rubio is any guide, State of the Union responses are remembered more for the optics — which in this case were especially moist.
Besides the glossy lips, others were noting the busted up car in the background, which is probably something you don’t want in the background as a member of the Kennedy family, rehashing memories of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Joe’s uncle, and his dip into the Chappaquiddick. For some, this rebuttal ran off the pier as well. Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said, “Chuck and Nancy chose a dynastic establishment Massachusetts liberal to represent the Democrats tonight, showing how out-of-touch their party remains with most of America. That their far-left base planned four dueling responses shows how divided, leaderless, and off-message Democrats still are.”
Bravo to the Dem advance staffer who decided to put a Kennedy in front of a car wreck on national TV.— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) January 31, 2018
Why is Kennedy speaking in front of a broken car?— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 31, 2018
Joe Kennedy continuing the Clinton "Stronger Together" theme for his SOTU response.— amy walter (@amyewalter) January 31, 2018
This Kennedy reaction looks like a sketch comedy with the set and forced applause— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 31, 2018
I start watching the D response with legitimate sympathy for @RepJoeKennedy A SOTU response is such an impossible job, in any year, in any party. And then he starts on "targeting the laws that protect us." Says the party that makes laws up as they go. #SOTU— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) January 31, 2018
Joe Kennedy: "We choose both." Who doesn't? I just heard in Trump speech about tax cuts for all taxpayers, military protection for all citizens, deregulation that helps all businesses and workers, and a govt. willing to help those truly in need. #SOTU— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) January 31, 2018
Again, there was some bipartisan flavor here. Besides Joe’s blue collar and rural outreach attempts in this speech, he’s still a Kennedy, which brings all the connotations of wealth, class, and status into the mix. It’s the establishment pure and simple, and it’s something the progressive wing of the Democratic Party wants to break free from in their agenda for the movement. CNN’s Angela Rye noted how Kennedy being picked shows that “Democrats are completely missing the pulse of the culture.” They’re done with dynasties. They tried it and it failed.
Dem-friendly pundits are so easily swooned pic.twitter.com/hviWF25MS0— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 31, 2018