Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) delivered the State Of The Union rebuttal for the Republicans last night, laying out her party's vision for America. Desperate to appeal to women who are leaving the GOP in droves, Rodgers was clearly a calculated pick - reasonably sane, female, and a better speaker than Bobby Jindal. But she had nothing to talk about other than broad philosophical difference between the parties, indicating the painful reality that the Republicans have no policies worth talking about.
The speech, while reasonably well delivered, seemed to be catered to those with a reading age of a 4th grader. Rodgers spoke slowly (probably a good thing given her target audience), and was shockingly light on actual content, proving yet again that the GOP is in a terminal death spiral and completely incapable of being anywhere near government.
Rodgers trundled through the embarrassing jingoism and religious homilies that have come to define Republican speeches these days, promising to liberate Americans from the tyrannical Obama and his pesky 'get poor people health care' policies and attempts to minimally raise taxes on the mega rich.
And that was about it really.
For those who haven't seen the speech, don't bother. Below is a handy translation that takes her key points and explains what she is actually talking about:
"Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The President wants that too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen. So tonight I’d like to share a more hopeful, Republican vision… One that empowers you, not the government"
Translation: We're going to leave you to the whims of the free market, the ultimate arbiter of individual empowerment. Obviously we don't care if it empowers people or not, but we say it does, and that should count for something.
"Every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time. We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school…so college is affordable…and skills training is modernized.
Translation: We've cut taxes for rich people.
"Yes, it’s time to honor our history of legal immigration. We’re working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest, and hardest working from around the world."
Translation: In states where immigration is unpopular, we'll pretend to oppose it. But corporations need desperate people to work for no money, so we'll allow it anyway.
"We have solutions to help you take home more of your pay – through lower taxes, cheaper energy costs, and affordable health care."
Translation: We will cut taxes for rich people.
"Not long ago I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who hoped the President’s health care law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month. No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s. And that whether you’re a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer … you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you."
Translation: We don't have a health care policy, but the free market sounds like it's pretty good at sorting everything out, so we'll rely on that.
"Tonight, I simply offer a prayer… A prayer for Sgt. Hess’s family, your family, and for our larger American family. That, with the guidance of God, we may prove worthy of His blessings of life … liberty … and the pursuit of happiness. For when we embrace these gifts, we are each doing our part to form a more perfect union. May God guide you and our President, and may God continue to bless the United States of America."
Translation: We have no policies. But prayer makes everyone feel good, so let's pray!