Responding to the President, 80s Style

Last night, after the President’s State of the Union address, Republicans offered not one, not two, but three separate responses. This raises the question: what should they look like? How do you rebut the President and woo potential supporters to your side? The opposition tends to be at a major disadvantage, at least in terms of visuals, although Skip Lupia offers some nice suggestions in this Monkey Cage post.

But for an idea of what a SOTU response speech could look like, check out this response from 1985, when then-Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas offered a multi-media presentation that highlighted what Democratic members of Congress and governors were doing across the country. The speech is backed by the 1980 Genesis song “Turn It On Again,” which is about a man who is so obsessed with television that he believes the images are real and the characters are his friends. Perhaps that was an extremely subtle dig at President Reagan, but I doubt it.

[Cross-posted at The Mischiefs of Faction]

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Seth Masket

Seth Masket is an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.