And SOTU Speak…– Republican chaos makes for entertaining night

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

March 9th 2024

After last year’s State of the Union address, you might think the Republicans would have dusted the Biden boot marks off their collective asses and learned a lesson. Don’t try to heckle Biden. He’ll eat you for lunch. Did they learn?


Empty “Armpits” Greene (R-Trash) once again led the Charge of the Dim Brigade, “Half a brain, half a brain, half a brain downward!”. She showed up in full MAGA regalia, including the tacky red gimme cap. Someday I hope to figure out how acting like a nekulturny imbecile “owns the libs.” It doesn’t hold up well in my experience. The fastest way to wipe the shit eating grin off a MAGAt’s face is to point out that looking and acting like a fool doesn’t own me.

She stuffed a button in Biden’s hand that read, “Say her name, Laken Riley.” This referred to a 22 year old woman murdered by a Venezuelan national in the US without documents. Biden referred to “Lincoln Riley” in his speech, committing the gaffe of calling her accused murderer “an illegal,” a term much beloved by bigots and hatemongers. But Greene’s crusade was gaffy in and of itself: the presence of the Venezuelan wasn’t because of any Biden policy; the assailant was in the country as a result of a last-day-in-office move by Trump. Per Politico ( ) “President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he will offer Venezuelan exiles protection from deportation, a move he has considered for years but refused to do until his last full day in office. Trump is using the little-known Deferred Enforced Departure program, or DED, to offer temporary legal status to Venezuelans fleeing the humanitarian crisis brought on by Nicolás Maduro’s regime. DED, similar to Temporary Protected Status or TPS, protects recipients from deportation and allows them to get work permits. However, it is granted directly by the president instead of the Department of Homeland Security.”

It wasn’t the only time during the speech where the right exploited a grieving parent to blame Biden for something Trump did. Florida Rep. Brian Mast hit on the bright idea of inviting Steven K. Nikoui, the Gold Star father of Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, who was killed in August of 2021 by a suicide bomb during the chaotic evacuation of Americans from Kabul Airport. However, it was Trump who agreed to withdraw all troops by May 1st 2021 (he originally wanted to do it in just two weeks, by March 2020, but backed off over vociferous Pentagon objections). By the time Biden took office, 5,000 Talibani prisoners were released, and US presence reduced from 13,000 to 2,500, who were supposed to oversee the removal of all US equipment somehow. The government of Afghanistan was given no say in any of this, of course. Biden was able to get an additional three months, but it was going to be a mess anyway.

The Republicans even managed to duplicate one of last years’ missteps, booing loudly when Biden described their tax policy as “giving trillions to the rich.” Biden leaned on one elbow, grinned, and asked, “You’re saying you don’t want to do that now?”

Speaker Mike Johnson, sitting behind Biden alongside Vice President Kamela Harris, was a silent comedy show all to himself with a variety of strained smirks, purse-lipped headshakes, eye-rolls and open indecision over whether he should approve or disapprove of something Biden said. You could almost see a giant translucent Trump head, glaring orange at him, daring him to disobey any transitory whim Trump felt during the speech. Johnson looked like a bible literalist forced to audit a scientific convention on evolution. In case he felt even a moment of comfort, the clown show caucus was there to embarrass him.

How honest was Biden’s speech itself? By SOTU standards, which always involves a lot of presidential congratulatory self-back-slapping, it was really good. He shaded the truth some in some areas, but unlike his predecessor, didn’t say any flat-out lies. You can read the Politifact review here.

Oh, and George Santos showed up. There’s a loophole in Congressional rules that allows expelled and disgraced members of Congress to get seats at the SOTU. No, really. He was there. Maybe he wanted a MAGA franchise for Trump’s $400 gold sneaks. He was a good addition to GOP gravitas.

But the fun didn’t end when Biden finished the speech. He made a classic Biden open-mike gaffe on the way out, telling Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado “I told Bibi (Netanyahu), don’t repeat this, you and I are going to have a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting.” Even that gaffe couldn’t help the GOP, since Biden said exactly what a large and increasing number of Americans, upset by the ongoing slaughter in Gaza, have wanted to hear him say.

Then there was the Response from the kitchen of Alabama Senator Katie Britt. By the time she was done, a lot of people were expecting to hear a sudden voice over: “From New York, it’s Saturday Night Live!” I won’t go into how weird and bad the speech was—thousands of others have already done that, and the video is around. Watch it. Really. It’s a comedy gem. But she misplayed the same “blame Biden” game. She spoke of a 12 year old girl who was made a sexual prisoner and gang-raped for months on end. She said, “We wouldn’t be OK with this in some third world country. This is the United States of America.” She blamed Biden border policies, of course.

Except it didn’t happen in America. It happened in Mexico. And Biden wasn’t president during any of that; Trump was.

Well, at least she knows what country she’s in. Maybe?

CORRECTION:  The Washington Post has this to say about the rape allegations by Katie Britt:

If you were watching Britt’s speech on Thursday night, you likely would have thought she was talking about a recent victim of sex trafficking who was abused in the United States and suffered because of President Biden’s policies.

If you did, you would have been wrong. Sean Ross, Britt’s communications director, confirmed that she was talking about Karla Jacinto Romero — who has testified before Congress about being forced to work in Mexican brothels from 2004 to 2008. (A viral TikTok by journalist Jonathan Katz first revealed that Britt was speaking about Romero.) In a phone conversation and a statement, Ross disputed that Britt’s language was misleading.

Trump himself had a Truth Social meltdown. He suggested that Biden was using performance-enhancing drugs to come across as not-senile, a curious suggestion from a man often suspected to taking Adderall, especially in light of the mushrooming Trump White House drug scandal under “Doctor” Ronnie Jackson, which gave the impression of Animal House with Doonesbury’s “Uncle Duke” running the show.

Trump didn’t like Biden’s stridency, writing, “THIS IS LIKE A SHOUTING MATCH, EVERY LINE IS BEING SHOUTED.” Yes, he was complaining about someone shouting in all caps. Only Trump, am I right?

But Trump got some good news: Someone put up the $92 million surety certain to be lost when Trump makes his doomed appeal of the defamation case he lost (twice, now) to E. Jean Carroll.

Trump’s bond was guaranteed by the Federal Insurance Company — a New York-based subsidiary of the company Chubb Group LLC, which is headquartered in Switzerland. According to Elana Sulakshana at RainForest Action Network, “Chubb insures fossil fuel infrastructure in Russia that is bankrolling Putin’s war on Ukraine, oil and gas extraction off the coast of Brazil, exploratory drilling in the Arctic, and other fossil fuel projects globally.” CEO Evan Greenberg likes to talk a good environmental stance, but it’s greenwashing. He underwrites some of the filthiest fuel projects for some of the filthiest regimes. And now, apparently, he’s underwriting Trump. At least he’s only taking a small step down, right?

GOP, have faith in George Santos. You are all part of his plan. Or maybe you’re part of Putin’s Plan.

Either way, you’re screwed.

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