The First Lady will be featuring an empty chair as one of her guests for the State of the Union speech tonight. (It’s really rather crass to be stealing ideas from Clint Eastwood, isn’t it, Madam?) The empty chair will be joined by Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo, Paris train attack hero Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, Ryan Reyes (whose boyfriend died at San Bernardino) and Satya Nadella.
But it’s not just Obama cheerleaders in the crowd. As the Hill reports, one guest will be from a decidedly different camp.
The Kentucky clerk briefly jailed last year for refusing to hand out marriage licenses to gay couples is slated to attend President Obama’s final State of the Union address, a source has confirmed to The Hill.
Kim Davis will attend Obama’s speech Tuesday night after the Family Research Council arranged for her to be in the House audience along with her attorney Mat Staver.
The Rowan County clerk will be in the audience along with Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case legalizing gay marriage across the country, who will be a guest of President Obama.
Ms. Davis has certainly had a full dance card since she first vaulted to national attention. She’s already gotten to meet with the Pope and now she has the dubious honor of sitting through a Barack Obama speech in Washington. Of course, it’s fairly obvious what a dog and pony show this is for our nation’s politicians given that Jim Obergefell will be there as well. The pairing makes for a dream ticket in terms of the networks, though. Just think about it: every time the President says something about all of his many victories on the social justice front for gays the cameras can be ready to flash over to Davis grimacing and Obergefell fist pumping. If we’re really lucky they might even do a split screen. Oh, the drama!
It’s kind of a shame that things have gotten to the point where the guest list at these speeches is just a series of pieces of performance art to poke a finger in somebody’s eye rather than filling the seats with people who might just legitimately want to be there. Yes, I know… for the vast majority of the people we normally speak to here the obvious question is, why would you want to? But the Democrats certainly do. And I’m willing to bet that if there’s an upcoming State of the Union given by a President Cruz or Trump or Rubio there are a fair number of folks here who wouldn’t mind going. Trust me, I’ve been to my share of rubber chicken events in DC and at various stops along the campaign trail elsewhere. Sometimes it can be a chore, but it’s also an experience to have at least once, providing a chance to see (and yes.. be seen) with other folks in the game. Also, some of the after parties can be pretty good at times.’
In fact, in the end, it’s not really about the speech at all. If what you really cared about was hearing what the President had to say you could do so from the comfort of your own home on any of dozens of network and cable channels or on the radio in your car. It’s far more spectacle than substance. But the media owns the show now and the guest list is strictly serving the purpose of building a “highlight” reel from an even that will be drearily short of actual highlights.