Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Dump The Opposition Party Response To The State Of The Union Speech?

In a New York Times op-ed, Jeff Shesol (a former speechwriter to President Bill Clinton) says the customary opposition party rebuttal to Presidential State of the Union speeches "is a dog of a speech." He continues:
If it achieves anything it is a lightness of being, an instant irrelevance. Or worse: the State of the Union response has a long record of diminishing anyone who delivers it. It's time either to reform the rebuttal - or retire it.

His suggestions include changing the rebuttal speech venue, sharpening the focus and avoiding the laundry list approach of responding to every item in the President's speech. He says:
It ought to make one clear, provocative argument and leave the audience with no doubt about the speaker's purpose. A less ambitious speech may well be a more effective one. For example, the Democrats could use their less-than-equal time to define an exit strategy for Iraq and leave it at that. Or they could present a plan to save Social Security from privatization. With an unambiguous message in hand, the Democrats could then build on their speech as the president does - by heading out to the heartland, repeating a single, memorable refrain, and making the case for a clear course of action.

Tonight's rebuttal will be given by the minority leaders of the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Heeding Mr. Shesol's advice, I've written them a speech:
The state of the union sucks, and you can thank George Bush.


This is exactly right. The rebuttal automatically makes us look small.

We need a bigger stage.
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