The Calpundit analyzes the weak Democratic response to the SOTU address, and he has a few suggestions:
And what I feel like posting about is the crappy Democratic response to the SOTU. Why was it so crappy?
To be sure, part of it was the speakers themselves. And the speech itself wasn’t so hot either. Plus the decision to have both Pelosi and Daschle speak probably wasn’t very smart. But I think there’s an even bigger problem.
When the president speaks, he does it in a big room full of people. He’s addressing those people, they clap and cheer, and there’s a lot of natural energy surrounding the whole thing. This is what the response needs.
Now, back in my marketing days I used to enjoy talking to groups. I don’t know why, I just did. But practicing speeches was entirely different. I almost never did it, and when I did I was horrible: wooden, stuttery, and joyless. Much like tonight’s performance. But put me up on a stage with real people in front of me and I was fine.
I think that’s what the response needs. The Democrats should have rented a ballroom or something, invited a few hundred party stalwarts (at 500 bucks a pop!), and delivered a real speech to a real audience. Instead of a deathly quite soundstage and an unblinking camera, they could have used the energy of the room the way any good speaker does.
Unfortunately, Kevin is wrong on almost every account. I have some advice of my own, and this is for both parties. Stop giving the responses, period. Just stop it. They are pointless, and I have never seen either party give an effective response. All they do is serve to make the opposition party look puny and out of power, mainly because, as Kevin noted, the President will always have an insurmountable advantage with the pageantry of the spectacle.
How many of you remember the hideous responses the Republicans gave during the Clinton years? I remember Bob Dole’s hideously wooden attempt in 1996 (which served only as a prelude to how awful his campaign would be that year), I remember an equally awful performance by Trent Lott in 1999, and who could forget Jennifer Dunn’s hideously cringeworthy attempt in 1999. The only one I remember that even approached respectability was J.C. Watts in 1997.
The tradition of an opposition response started in the 1960’s, and I think it is time it ended. And, Democrats- if you do nothing else, please stop referring to Nancy Pelosi with the Stalinesque title of ‘Leader Pelosi.’ Jeebus- that made my skin crawl. I can’t imagine how it played in the VFW.