GOP SOTU guest list focused on ObamaCare

posted at 5:21 pm on January 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The State of the Union, like big sporting events, tends to produce its own sub-themes based on the peripherals of the event. One such sideshow is the guest lists from the White House and its opposition for the gallery, which tip the hands of both sides in their framing of national issues.  The Obama guest list provides a number of proxies for the variety of issues that the President seeks to highlight in his annual address to the joint session of Congress:

An immigrant brought illegally to the United States as a child, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the governor of Kentucky, and the mayor of San Francisco will be among President Obama’s guests at Tuesday night’s State of the Union.

The White House announced 11 more guests Tuesday who will sit with first lady Michelle Obama and other officials in the presidential box.

They join six other invitees announced Monday, including two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings and openly gay basketball player Jason Collins.

There will also be an Air Force veteran who has $90,000 in student debt while being a single mom to a teenager, the teacher who talked a student out of a shooting spree in Georgia, and a previously-uninsured physician’s assistant who got coverage under ObamaCare. That’s a pretty wide policy spread, and not terribly focused on what the White House claims as its central focus tonight, income inequality. In fact, it’s a little amusing to see an NBA multimillionaire in the box as Obama’s guest as he talks about the disparity between the rich and the poor.

On the other side, Republicans are making their point about tonight’s opposition message very clear:

GOP lawmakers are bringing guests to President Barack Obama’s address Tuesday night who are negatively affected by the health care law – from consumers who’ve seen their insurance plans cancelled to business owners who are beleaguered by new guidelines under the Affordable Care Act.

At least a dozen GOP lawmakers are bringing Obamacare plus-ones to the State of the Union in a coordinated effort, according to information provided by the House Republican Conference and individual offices.

“It’s putting a face to the problem,” said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), who is bringing Diane Hunter, a president and CEO of Interim Health Care, a home health agency in his district. “So often times, people in Washington, D.C., don’t seem to understand that these policies are having a real, dramatic effect on small businesses.”

Using State of the Union guests to make a political point is nothing new. But the president’s annual address gives an especially bright spotlight for Republicans to wage yet another political assault on the health care law – particularly in an election year in which Obamacare is expected to play a major role.

The Republicans are aggressively promoting their anti-Obamacare guests in the media and holding events to put the focus on the health care law. Just hours before the address, a handful of House GOP lawmakers and their Obamacare-centric guests will hold a press conference in conjunction with the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

This is exactly where Republicans need to focus. They need a coherent, fact-based, and personal response that underscores the overreach and incompetence of the Obama administration on their first comprehensive program to address inequality — ObamaCare. It would help if they could pull together a united response with that kind of focus, too, but that’s where the effort broke down:

The new White House mantra is that Barack Obama, forever thwarted by an obstreperous Congress, will use “his pen and his phone” to push the action in 2014. But at least for one night, Obama can still draw on the power of the pulpit. Tuesday’s State of the Union will showcase all the pomp a presidency can muster: the House chamber filled with dignitaries, the seesaw of applause, a broadcast audience numbering in the tens of millions. The privilege is a perk of the office.

But Congress has found a way to intrude even on this. Obama’s address will be followed by no fewer than three Republican rebuttals, which will (spoiler alert) pan the speech with varying degrees of contempt. These responses—not to mention the 530 or so separate email blasts that will begin flooding in-boxes before Obama even finishes speaking—are meant to siphon attention on the one night the President is supposed to have it in full.

At the same time, however, the triple rebuttal lays bare the challenges facing a fractured party. After consecutive losses to Obama and the disastrous government shutdown, the GOP‘s factions are increasingly divided over tactics and message. The practice of responding to the sitting President dates back decades for both parties, but it wasn’t until the Obama era that Republican factions began jostling for post-presidential airtime. Instead of advancing the party’s ideas, the competing speeches wind up stepping on them.

I tend to agree. Ironically, ObamaCare is the one issue that galvanizes and unites Republicans and conservatives, on the overall goal of repeal if not necessarily on short-term tactics. If anything should have produced a single, coordinated response from the various factions on the Right, it’s a SOTU response focused on ObamaCare. The impact from one would still not have broken free of the shadow of pageantry and pomp from the SOTU itself, but at least it would have provided a single rally point for Obama’s opposition. Instead, we’ll probably get debate over which response was the least weak in the aftermath of the evening.

The damage will be minimal, though, because no one recalls SOTU speeches except through searches to see how baldly a President ignored his own promises, let alone responses. Let’s focus on the real drama tonight … SOTU dating.

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Don’t think I can stomach this…

OmahaConservative on January 28, 2014 at 5:27 PM

That’s a can of worms!

Lanceman on January 28, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Willie Robinson from Duck Dynasty being a guest there is almost worth watching for… Almost… Blood pressure says no

sandee on January 28, 2014 at 5:32 PM

It’s all little more than kabuki theater…

…and the MSM will have their stories for tomorrow’s morning newspapers and news programs 90% complete before Barack Obama even enters the House chambers. Except for something unexpected (‘You lie’), little editing will take place.

Such is the nature of the spectacle and propaganda.

Athos on January 28, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Won’t be watching , my family didn’t escape Idi Amin to watch Idi Hussein !

burrata on January 28, 2014 at 5:34 PM

The entire GOP side of the house should be empty except for a sign that reads: “You lie.”

dogsoldier on January 28, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Wonder how many from the SCOTUS will be there…

OmahaConservative on January 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Ironically, ObamaCare is the one issue that galvanizes and unites Republicans and conservatives…

What difference does it make?

When at the end of the day, you’re a squish, it really doesn’t matter how tough you sound/look.

newtopia on January 28, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Don’t forget that the Republicans answer for Obamacare is immigration reform.

That’s the smart power we’re in bed with these days.

newtopia on January 28, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Barky & Moochelle wanted Pete Seeger and now they’ve had to settle for CEO of Gummint Motors…

viking01 on January 28, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Moochie should have a crate of lobsters in the seat next to her.

fogw on January 28, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Wonder how many from the SCOTUS will be there…

OmahaConservative on January 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM

If Benedict Roberts doesn’t attend Larry Flynt gets “the photos.”

viking01 on January 28, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Bishop…for President.

newtopia on January 28, 2014 at 5:44 PM

An immigrant brought illegally to the United States as a child, General Motors CEO Mary Barra…

Installed there by Obama for purely political reasons. That’s not really an inspiring story.

RJL on January 28, 2014 at 5:47 PM

I’d watch the SOTU but I have a date with the cartoon network. :)

McCain Hater on January 28, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Showtime: Barry’s SOTU Tonight

petefrt on January 28, 2014 at 5:52 PM

RJL on January 28, 2014 at 5:47 PM

obama owns general motors.

she’s a token

she’s an illegal.

she got the job.

renalin on January 28, 2014 at 5:53 PM

GOP should have invited the families of the Benghazi SEAL’s and the FF border patrolman.

Bishop on January 28, 2014 at 5:53 PM

SOTU Address Tonight: Self-Medication Required

petefrt on January 28, 2014 at 5:55 PM

If they could dig up Che Guevara and somehow make him look presentable, the set would be complete.
Just sit him next to Mooch.

AllahsNippleHair on January 28, 2014 at 5:56 PM

One of the SEALS fathers is going, Bish.

wolly4321 on January 28, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Barack’s Bullsh*t Bingo Cards!

Get yours now but whatever you do, DO NOT make this a drinking game.

Key West Reader on January 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Here, focus on THIS message:
Will Obamacare be repealed or won’t it? Will Congress fund it or won’t it? Will the web site be fixed or not? Blah, blah, blah. We the people just need to do what we need to do and Congress be damned. Resist. Refuse. Revolt. EXEMPT OURSELVES! We did not comply with Prohibition and we simply should not comply with Obamacare. For religious reasons. For privacy reasons. For the cause of liberty and freedom and in protest of the idea that the federal government (under one party rule, no less), can force private citizens to purchase anything with our own money. Are we citizens or subjects? Mice or (wo)men? Just say NO to socialism and to the corrupt, unionized, far left IRS: the gestapo of America’s political class. After all, the federal government ignores millions of illegals who are breaking U.S. immigration law every day. Our Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. All we have to do is just say no to a scheme we all know is un-American and a violation of our most basic founding fundamentals of privacy, self reliance, limited government and individual freedom.
How To Opt Out Of Obamacare. Know your options and become savvy self-pay patients. Join a health care sharing ministry. These are voluntary, charitable membership organizations that agree to share medical bills among the membership. They function similar to insurance, and are probably the best alternative to conventional health insurance. There are four of them, at least that I know of. Three are open only to practicing Christians (Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Christian Care Ministry) while a fourth, Liberty HealthShare, is open to anyone who agrees with their ethical commitment to religious liberty. They operate entirely outside of Obamacare’s regulations, and typically offer benefits for about half the cost of similar health insurance. Members are also exempt from having to pay the tax for being uninsured. From the article by Sean Parnell http://thefederalist. com/2013/12/04/opt-obamacare/

devan95 on January 28, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Okrah Winfrey couldn’t fit it in due to space limitations.

viking01 on January 28, 2014 at 6:00 PM

All I want to know is that Sandra Fluck is sassyfied with her free birth control pills and rubbers.

That’s what the ACA was all about.

Key West Reader on January 28, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Key West Reader on January 28, 2014 at 6:01 PM

That big slut had better be satisfied…

OmahaConservative on January 28, 2014 at 6:03 PM

The Republicans are trying to make political hay out of it. That’s all this is – they will do nothing to eliminate Obamacare or it’s burdens. They simply want this power over the people for themselves.

besser tot als rot on January 28, 2014 at 6:13 PM

They better be “minorities” or you can call it a day.

el hombre on January 28, 2014 at 6:57 PM

GOP should have invited the families of the Benghazi SEAL’s and the FF border patrolman.

Bishop on January 28, 2014 at 5:53 PM

I hear they tried to invite Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. For some reason, none of them replied to the invitations.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 28, 2014 at 7:05 PM

” previously-uninsured physician’s assistant who got coverage under ObamaCare. ”

?? Pretty sure PAs tend to draw salaries that should cover insurance premiums ($80-110k I think…)

cs89 on January 28, 2014 at 7:13 PM

GOP should have invited the families of the Benghazi SEAL’s and the FF border patrolman.

Bishop on January 28, 2014 at 5:53 PM


But then again, GOP is the rollover party.

petefrt on January 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Kevin Williamson is himself sick of the practice.

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

It’s the most nauseating display in American public life — and I write that as someone who has just returned from a pornographers’ convention.

Akzed on January 28, 2014 at 7:54 PM