Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Bread Bagger" Joni Ernst Goes To Washington

Move over Sarah Palin & Michelle Bachmann, it's Senator Joni Ernst time!
Given the maniacally partisan nature of our political system these days it's no surprise that President Obama's State of the Union address last night drew mixed reviews from both sides of the political spectrum.

Personally I thought it was an excellent speech and his most effective State of the Union speech by far.

If you haven't already OD'd on post-SOTU 2015 discussion, check out the opening segment of this morning's Brian Lehrer Show; excellent analysis and insightful commentary from both the guests and the callers.

Good excerpts of the speech too.

The best moment of the night came after some on the Republican side of the chamber broke into subdued sarcastic applause when Obama said, "I have no more campaigns to run."

As Republicans snickered, without missing a beat he shot back: "I know because I won both of them."

The most bizarre moment? Unquestionably the strange appearance of newly elected Iowa Senator  
Joni Ernst to give the GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union - which turned out to be more of a stream-of-consciousness kinda thing rather than an actual rebuttal to an address by the President of the United States.

You may recall Ernst as the GOP-Koch brother's darling who won the seat of former long-time Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin during the recent fall elections, helping to secure a Republican majority in the Senate chamber.

She ran a campaign television ad showing hogs being castrated to bolster her "Iowa farm-girl" cred and illustrate what she was going to do to shake things up in Washington.

Based on her vocal tone and cadence during her brief "rebuttal" last night, it was hard to tell if she thought she was speaking to a class of first graders, or a national audience of millions of people who'd just watched the President lay out his political objectives for 2015.                   

My guess is that Republicans decided to simply ignore what Obama said and instead parade Joni as a shining example of the GOP's ability to connect with women voters.

Her effort to use her folksy mid-western charm to connect with the audience came off as hokey, forced and hypocritical.

For example, she kept hitting on the theme of her having grown up with a farm family who taught her to "live within our means" to demonstrate her commitment to "cutting pork" and shrinking "big government."

But as an interesting article posted on the districtsentinel Website revealed, between 1995 and 2009 her own father Richard Culver, her uncle Dallas Culver and their grandfather Harold Culver collectively received over $460,000 in agricultural subsidies and contracts from the federal government back in Red Oak, Iowa.    

Now there's nothing wrong or illegal about US farmers receiving crop subsidies, but it reeks of hypocrisy for her to campaign on the twisted Tea Party idea of a bloated, overreaching federal government handing out money to the undeserving masses when her own family accepted almost a half million in taxpayer dollars for well over a decade. 

In the short time she spoke it just seemed as if she laid on the whole modest upbringing, "lived within our means" shtick a bit thick. Early in her presentation she talked about having to cover up the one pair of school shoes she had with bread bags in bad weather to keep them from getting wet and messed up as a child.

She talked about having worked at Hardee's serving breakfast biscuits; like her working a food service job when she was younger somehow makes her special or unique. Frankly I found that insulting to the millions of underpaid employees in America working at fast-food chains for minimum wage because they can't find better  paying jobs.

Her comments sparked an explosion of revealing insight on Twitter last night as she was speaking. One Twitter user who grew up in Iowa wrote that kids covering their shoes with bread bags in the spring or winter when it's wet or muddy was a fairly common thing in Iowa; it's not like she was raised on "Little House On The Prairie".       

State of the Union dress code? Joni Ernst's camo pumps
Speaking of shoes, as if her mentioning the fact that she was in the military no less than three times during her "rebuttal" wasn't enough, (we heard ya' the first time Joni...) she was sporting a rather strange pair of camouflage dress pumps during her rebuttal of the State of the Union address.

Now I certainly respect her military service to the nation and all, but I never saw former Senator Bill Bradley wearing dress shoes with a Nike swipe, Addidas stripes or a New York Knicks logo emblazoned on the side when he was in Congress.

Just as the former Republican Kansas Senator Bob Dole never wore combat boots on the Senate floor to prove he fought in WWII.

Given the disastrous Clint Eastwood talking-to-a-chair debacle during the last Republican National Convention, Senator Marco Rubio's bizarre water break during his State of the Union address rebuttal in 2013, you'd think the GOP would take extra care to review the text and delivery of the people who are selected to address a national audience of millions on behalf of the Republican party.

You'd think.

No comments: