Iowa senator and hog castrating enthusiast Joni Ernst delivered tonight's Republican response to the State of the Union standing in the Armed Services Committee Room and wearing camouflage heels for subtlety. Ernst elected not to respond to the SOTU at all, instead delivering something between a belated campaign ad and an incredibly soothing Paxil voiceover.
Despite our fondest hopes, Ernst's response was not even minimally insane, if you discount the fact that she doesn't appear to blink nearly as often as a normal human being. It functioned instead as the blandest possible stump speech for Republicanism and for Joni Ernst, Humble Farm Girl Made Good, a warm bath of cliches and general sunshine-out-the-ass regarding our bright future under the new Republican majority.
"Tonight, rather than respond to a speech, I'd like to talk about your priorities," she began. "I'd like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again." The new Republican Congress, she said, " understands how difficult these past six years have been. For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington's dysfunction, weren't things we had to read about. We felt them every day."
That's because Joni Ernst is Just Like You. She continued:
We felt them in Red Oak — the little town in southwestern Iowa where I grew up, and am still proud to call home today.
As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees.
We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning. You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry. But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.
Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have. "These days though, many families feel like they're working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it. Not just in Red Oak, but across the country.
(Ernst has mentioned working at Hardee's countless times, even working it into stump speeches as an argument for how great minimum wage jobs are, and how that minimum wage definitely doesn't need to be any higher.)
The senator also attacked President Obama and "Washington" generally for, as she put it, "the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare." She promised the new Republican majority would repeal Obamacare, and is "working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve." That's right! Job-creating measures like Congress immediately introducing a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks! Job-creating measures like the Senate trying to repeal important Civil Rights-era educational legislation! Lots of Good American Jobs in preventing legal abortions and re-opening racial and economic educational disparities.
Ernst also promised that the Republicans would work to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, an environmental disaster waiting to happen that will create thousands of temporary jobs and just 35 permanent ones. And like President Obama, she pledged to honor our veterans, prevent cyberattacks, and protect the American Way of Life, throwing in yet another pandering reference to her grandparents:
They had very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands. But they worked, they sacrificed, and they dreamed big dreams for their children and grandchildren. And because they did, an ordinary Iowan like me has had some truly extraordinary opportunities because they showed me that you don't need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference. You just need the freedom to dream big, and a whole lot of hard work.
As always, Senator, the Simpsons did it first and best.
You can see Ernst's full remarks here, if for some reason you really feel the need to do that.