AT LEAST HE WAS BETTER THAN JINDAL…. Giving the official response to the State of the Union — any president’s State of the Union — tends to be the kiss of death for any political figure of note. Given the recent history, I’m generally surprised when anyone even accepts the gig.
Virginia’s newly elected governor, Bob McDonnell, made a good decision to offer his response in a better setting — he spoke from the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates — though as a friend of mine joked last night, following on the heels of State of the Union, McDonnell more or less came across as the president of a much smaller country.
As for the content, I’ve been trying to think of something noteworthy to write, but the speech was rather boilerplate. All McDonnell had to do was avoid embarrassing himself the way Bobby Jindal did last year, and I’m confident the Virginian cleared this very low bar.
In terms of substance, McDonnell was pretty conventional. We learned, for example, that when the government takes money out of the economy, it helps create jobs. That doesn’t make any sense, but this was the official GOP response, where facts are irrelevant.
But more than anything else, McDonnell’s comments on health care stood out.
“All Americans agree, we need a health care system that is affordable, accessible, and high quality. But most Americans do not want to turn over the best medical care system in the world to the federal government.
“Republicans in Congress have offered legislation to reform healthcare, without shifting Medicaid costs to the states, without cutting Medicare, and without raising your taxes.
“We will do that by implementing common sense reforms, like letting families and businesses buy health insurance policies across state lines, and ending frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals that drive up the cost of your healthcare.
“And our solutions aren’t thousand-page bills that no one has fully read, after being crafted behind closed doors with special interests.”
A few quick things to keep in mind. First, the U.S. system isn’t the “best in the world.” That’s just silly.
Second, the Democratic plan does not turn over medical care to the federal government. McDonnell probably should have looked into this before giving the speech.
Third, the Republican health care plan was a fairly transparent joke. It was an embarrassment to the GOP, not a plan to brag about.
And fourth, while the Republican proposal wasn’t a 1,000-page bill “crafted behind closed doors with special interests,” it was, in reality, a 700-page bill crafted behind closed doors with special interests.
Media Matters did some additional fact-checking, but on the whole, the address was largely forgettable. Given the history, though, it was largely a pass/fail test, so McDonnell should probably be pleased.