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Can Joe Kennedy Beat the State of the Union Curse?

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Can Joe Kennedy Beat the State of the Union Curse?


This year’s opposition response to the State of the Union address has two elements to lift it from its status as a star-crossed, sometimes futile exercise: One, the president’s name is Donald Trump; two, the responder is named Kennedy.

Tuesday night’s story is, rightly, about President Trump. Aside from times of crisis, the State of the Union is an unmatched opportunity “for the President to showcase his … arsenal of constitutional powers,” the scholars at the Congressional Research Service reminded us in a 2015 white paper.

Trump’s gracelessness with substantive issues and his penchant for fibs, dodges and reversals will devalue the State of the Union address’ traditional shopping list of goals and deprive the speech of much of its customary usefulness as an organizing tool for administration policy.

But he has the requisite performing skills to seize the moment, and the nationally broadcast speech has been a fat pitch down the middle for his predecessors since the days of Franklin Roosevelt and the advent of electronic media.

We may be inured to the SOTU’s charms (Quick: Name one substantive takeaway from an address given by George W. Bush or Barack Obama), but any provocative statement by Trump will generate the requisite Twitter storms and spasmodic replays on cable television.

But for the party on the outs, the official response’s status as an afterthought—limited in time and watched by but a small sliver of the massive audience the preceding speech receives—limits its capacity to make much of a splash.

It is no easy gig. In recent years, “the response” has earned the reputation among political doyens as an ill-starred opportunity—as likely to quench a promising career as to serve as an accelerant.

Read more… POLITICO

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