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Examining Katie Britt’s Jinxed State of the Union Reply

State of the Union: Republicans miss out on pummeling Biden.

Secretary Mayorkas Testifies In Senate Hearing On 2024 Budget Request

Someone tweeted last night that Senator Katie Britt “killed it” with her response to President Biden’s State of the Union declaration of war against half of America. The only thing she killed, hopefully, was her chance of being the VP choice for Trump. 

What was the point of that nonsense? For a country that defines itself against hereditary hierarchy, Americans are arch-feudal in spirit, and the entire State of the Union is mantled in pseudo-monarchic pomp. Fair enough. I am a firm believer of tradition and, provided the SOTU is unifying, which it rarely is, it could theoretically at least be a moment of unity in a country whose diverse breadth is comparable to the whole of continental Europe. Nevertheless, this is a republic as originally designed. There is no such thing as a “loyal opposition,” nor should there be. And to act and speak like one is pure theater, and bad theater at that. 


It was understandable what the Republicans wanted. Britt is exactly of the type who are considered credentialled in Washington, D.C. by the consultant class; a former Senatorial aide, bright and policy-savvy, she is the youngest senator and, better, a woman—even a mother and wife. She has, to her credit, taken consistently sound positions on Ukraine since 2023. Republicans realize they face a five alarm fire with working suburban women, with IVF and abortion issues being front and center. It made sense that they chose a millennial woman for the rebuttal to Biden’s shouty address. The contrast couldn’t be clearer. Biden is lying, Britt is authentic, Biden menacing, Britt composed, Biden a threat, Britt a return to normalcy. 

Except it didn’t work. A response to SOTU is always a thankless task; it should be scrapped as it is pre-written and often fails to catch the mood. This time was no different. Britt had to speak to an audience she couldn’t see or feel, bizarrely from a dimly lit kitchen counter, as if wives and mothers cannot have a decent study or a desk. She delivered a hyper-emotional speech that verged from creepy to hormonal to giddy within the span of twenty minutes. She focused on how “weak” Biden was on the world stage against Putin. One wonders if Liz Cheney wrote her speech. As someone tweeted, it was similar to a drunk mother rambling about national debt. Tina Fey might play her in an SNL cold open. 

My colleague Bradley Devlin wrote about how President Biden declared war on half the country in one of the most divisive speeches in the recent history of the auspicious chamber, where he sought to demonize domestic opponents of his policy as Putinists and undemocratic rebels—despite himself presiding over the most quasi-fascistic administration of recent memory—and to divide the country on the lines of gender. He also lied, blatantly, about immigration and foreign policy. A smarter option for a response would have been to sit in an office and fact-check Biden’s speech, instead of whatever in God’s holy name Britt was up to. 

I don’t blame her. These things are rarely a solo effort. But the good senator should fire her speaking coach, speechwriters, and aides, because, if she ever looks back on where her blossoming career faced its first possibility of derailment, around 11 p.m. Eastern on March 7, 2024 will be the point marked by amateur historians. 

Her career isn’t dead. She’s still a promising senator who should hold onto her own detached foreign policy realist instincts, perhaps scoring a potential admin position on the NSC or the State department. But she should disregard anyone who wants her to lean on last decade's neoconservative hawkery and the cult of “authenticity.” Stiff upper lip, and all that. 


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