Rep. Joe Kennedy’s response to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday night was a flaming pile of garbage. Full stop.
The Democratic Party, which ran a candidate from a political dynasty last time and lost, probably should have looked beyond the Kennedy family to deliver a response to Trump. The content of his speech was light on ideas and his delivery proved the congressman is still wet behind the ears — and around his mouth.
Not sure if trotting out the Drooling Ginger Princeling of Camelot is the best way to dethrone Trump, but it's a bold strategy
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) January 31, 2018
But you wouldn’t know it if you read some of these takes from the usual suspects. New York magazine’s Margaret Hartman called it “good.” My favorite is this one from none other than Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, who actually compared Kennedy to Abraham Lincoln. Yes, really.
Then he slipped into the identity issues, calling out specific reasons Trump might slot you into something other than first-class citizenship. Wrapping up, he said: ‘Their record is rebuke to our highest American ideal, the belief that we are all worthy, that we are all equal, that we all count in the eyes of our law and our leaders, our god, and our government. That is the American promise.’
Abraham Lincoln, writing in 1855 about the anti-immigrant movement of his day, struck a similar tone:
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocricy.
Lololololol. I can’t.
Yglesias also wrote that it wasn’t a bad idea to have Kennedy, a white guy from one of the most privileged families in America, deliver the response on behalf of the party that is always mocking Republicans for allowing an abundance of white males in leadership roles. Yglesias also said when Kennedy mentioned all of the right hashtags — #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo — it was totally not playing identity politics or stoking ire among groups of people Democrats segment by race and sex to get them to vote a certain way.
Yet when Donald Trump, a white guy, delivers a speech and Congress responds to by chanting “USA!” this is the worst thing possibly imaginable, says Yglesias.
“Republicans understand the remorseless mathematical logic of having a white guy stand up and deliver a speech about how whiteness is the best and then wrap it up with a bunch of white members of Congress lustily chanting ‘USA!'” he wrote.
“Remorseless mathematical logic”? For chanting “USA!” Are you insane?
Yglesias concluded by saying Republicans who mocked Kennedy’s speech are just jealous.
“GOP sources are texting snark about it, because the honest truth is they have no idea how to appeal to a diverse electorate,” he wrote.
Let’s recap what really happened last night. The Internet savaged Kennedy for wicks of moisture in the corners of his mouth, which overshadowed his speech.
The drool or whatever that is on the side of this guy's mouth is 1000x worse than Rubio reaching for that water bottle
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) January 31, 2018
What is the stuff on the side of Rep. Joe Kennedy's mouth? #SOTUResponse
— Ford O'Connell (@FordOConnell) January 31, 2018
He's drooling over his own speech. #SOTU
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 31, 2018
To the credit of whoever was running Kennedy’s Twitter account last night, this was hilarious.
No kidding. https://t.co/84ZArQynpt
— Joe Kennedy III (@joekennedy) January 31, 2018
There was also the bizarre choice of location for Kennedy’s speech — in front of a car with the hood up in the auto shop at Diman Regional Technical School.
In case you forgot the infamous 1969 incident in which Ted Kennedy drove a car into a “tide-swept pond” and left a female passenger inside the vehicle to die, here’s a quick refresher. The U.S. senator was leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island with 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne in the passenger seat when he swerved off the side of a wooden bridge into a channel. He was able to swim from the submerged car to safety. Kopechne was not. Ted Kennedy did not report the incident until 10 hours later. When authorities recovered the vehicle, Kopechne was found dead inside. He told investigators that he had tried to save her, but failed.
Reminding everyone of Ted Kennedy’s shady misdeeds by placing his grand-nephew in front of what looks like a busted-up car was not the best idea in the world.
But back to those wet lips!
In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning, Kennedy had to explain that he was not in fact drooling during the speech, which prompted this glorious headline from TMZ.
Jokes about the drool aside, watch this interview with George Stephanopoulos. Seriously, watch it.
Rep. Kennedy tells @GStephanopoulos he decided "to go light on the Chapstick" this morning after giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union. https://t.co/Uhk1ekQPME pic.twitter.com/h3tCYbOi75
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 31, 2018
Joe Kennedy stammers repeatedly, speaks haltingly, and ends almost every statement with an inflection at the end, as if he is asking a question instead of answering it. His responses are meandering, and his answer to questions about the stock market’s rise under Trump do not make sense. He says the stock market is not a good indicator of how all Americans are doing economically because not all Americans own stock. Huh?
Now let’s get to the substance of the speech. As I said before, Kennedy mentioned all of the right hashtags and loudly beat the drum of identity politics to gin up outrage among certain demographics. One of the strongest lines he delivered was this one about Trump’s time in office. He said Trump’s tenure has been “a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count – in the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government.”
But it was light on the specifics — how are the rights of certain groups of Americans being trampled? This is a big claim. If there are American citizens out there whose constitutional rights are being revoked by policy decisions Trump has made during his time in the Oval Office, I would like to know.
Kennedy later reached out in Spanish to address those who were brought illegally into the United States as minors.
“You are a part of our story,” he said. “We will fight for you. We will not walk away.”
This is a nice thing to say, except just last week Democrats proved they are unwilling to do what it takes to give this demographic amnesty. They refused to compromise on aspects of immigration policy and were completely unwilling to even talk about a proposed merit-based immigration system in exchange for legalizing 1.8 million illegal U.S. residents. As a result, Democrats threw this group under the bus.
Kennedy’s speech also did not explain how the Democratic Party can better serve segmented identity groups, aside from a vague Kumbaya rallying cry that boils down to: “Let’s all come together and kick that big meanie out of the White House.”
He said Trump’s efforts to pit people of different races, sexual orientations, and faiths against one another are wrong because Americans should all band together to overthrow the 1 percent.
“We are bombarded with one false choice after another,” he said. “Coal miners or single moms, rural communities or inner cities. The coast or the heartland. As if the mechanic in Pittsburgh, a teacher in Tulsa, and a day care worker in Birmingham are bitter rivals, rather than mutual casualties of a system forcefully rigged towards those at the top.”
I’ve heard that one before. And it has historically not worked out well.