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Opinion | You do not want to offer the rebuttal to the State of the Union

The responder is scorned and ridiculed. This is the rule without deviation.

Sen. Katie Britt delivers the Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.
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Without question, you do not want to be the political sacrificial lamb selected by your party hierarchy to give the rebuttal address in opposition to the Presidential State of the Union address. It does not matter if it is a Democratic stalwart responding to a Republican president or a Republican future rising star responding to a Democratic president. The responder is scorned and ridiculed. This is the rule without deviation.

Our own junior Senator Katie Britt was the subject of this national abuse in February when she was chosen to give the Republican response to Democratic President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. By the way, the president is generally subjected to the same ridicule as the responder, if not worse. However, most of the slings and arrows hurled at the president and responder are partisan driven.

Our national political stage has degenerated to nothing more than a totally partisan, philosophically driven, theatrical show. We are distinctly two nations, divided almost evenly, between left-wing liberal Democrats, who watch CNN, MSNBC, and Rachel Maddow, and right-wing, ultra conservative Republicans, who watch Fox News and Hannity. 

Very few Americans, much less Alabamians, watch these State of the Union political addresses and rebuttal speeches. They are aware that these are merely political speeches that disrupt their favorite evening television shows. The only reason I tuned in was because as Alabama’s primary political columnist and commentator, I had an obligation to watch so I could intelligently comment on and analyze both speeches when asked to do so by my primary network affiliation. 

The next day the entire left-wing liberal Democratic leaning pundits massacred poor Katie. Even the liberal media writers in Alabama jumped on the bandwagon, although they have minuscule readership. Contrary to the national media, I gave both Biden and Katie glowing reviews. However, in retrospect, I was shocked Biden had the stamina to make it through the hour-long teleprompter political delivery, and Katie was a little over-the-top with melodramatic theatrical expressions.

In the days and weeks following the rebuttal address, more than a few of my liberal readers wrote me and asked why I did not elaborate on Katie’s performance and accused me of being prejudiced in favor of Katie. They said you have always written good things about her and played a major part in helping her get elected. To all of that I plead guilty. I am a Katie Britt fan and always have been. She is the real thing. She is a shining star for Alabama’s future. She exudes leadership, character, and integrity.

Katie has always been a superstar, dating as far back as to when she was Alabama’s Junior Miss. She excelled in everything – including academics, leadership, and dancing – although maybe not acting. I vividly remember the first time I saw Katie on a political stage. It was 24 years ago, when she was an 18-year-old high school student. I was a speaker at Alabama’s Girls State and I witnessed her be elected Governor. The next week I called my old friend, our former Senior Senator Richard Shelby, and told him, “Shelby, I have just met a young lady named Katie Boyd from Enterprise, who has just been elected Governor of Girls State, and she has Governor or U.S. Senator written all over her.” 

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Katie went on to be President of the Student Government Association at the University of Alabama, graduated from law school, practiced law, became Shelby’s Chief of Staff, headed the Business Council of Alabama, then became the youngest female Republican U.S. Senator in history. She arrived in the U.S. Senate at age 40 and the national media seized on her and anointed her a national superstar. Thus, the GOP hierarchy thrust her on the national stage and gave her the dubious task of being the GOP responder to Biden’s State of the Union address.

None of this liberal media buzz about Katie’s appearance affects her popularity in Alabama one iota. She remains destined to be our U.S. Senator for the next three to four decades. Hopefully, this episode will deter the national GOP from striving to place her on the Trump ticket in the fall. That path would be devastating for not only Katie’s political future, but Alabama’s as well. 

I also watched the Saturday Night Live spoof of Katie’s rebuttal address. Scarlett Johansson’s impression of Katie was spot on. She was more like Katie than Katie herself. It is no wonder that she is a famous actress. Katie was actually flattered they selected Johansson to portray her.

In closing, Katie’s response was exactly what a real Republican from Alabama would stand for and applaud. If anyone had listened to her speech on the radio and you are a Conservative Christian Alabamian, you would have said, “hallelujah!”

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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