It has long been my belief that the media and the Republican Party learned the same lesson from Sarah Palin’s disastrous interview with Katie Couric. And that lesson was that the Republican Party looks really bad when the media get a good, unrehearsed view of their wingnuts (which now make up over half of the party’s successful politicians). It is because the media would prefer not to go through anything as cringingly embarrassing as that interview that Joni Ernst managed to become a United States Senator while not only crazy but utterly unqualified.
This goes way back to at least the 2008 vice-presidential debate. When Biden countered her on the fact that she didn’t answer the first question, Palin replied, “I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.” And that was how the debate went: she just talked about whatever she wanted in her own peculiar way also. I don’t suppose that there was anything that could have been done about that. But afterward, the media reaction was mostly relief that it didn’t result in anything like this:
So when Jodi Ernst was running for the Senate, the media did not push the way they would have pushed a regular candidate — a Democrat, or a Republican who wasn’t crazy, ignorant, and of average intelligence. But now she’s in the Senate and there is no reason to think that the media will push her any harder than they have pushed her before. (Note: other than comedians, the media went very easy on Sarah Palin after the Couric debacle.) And the Republicans know that. So they have decided to use Ernst as a trained seal — or something like that.
She is, after all, attractive. She is a woman. She’s not a terrible speaker. So why not have her give the response to the State of the Union speech? But they decided to do it right. Just as Sarah Palin wasn’t going to answer questions in her debate, Joni Ernst wasn’t going to give a response to the president:
And thus began the nine minute infomercial, “The Republican Party Is Not Scary.” The whole thing was so over-rehearsed that I’m quite sure Ernst did little more than practice for the last week. But the style reminded me of those dreadful animatronic creatures like they had at Disneyland when I was a kid. But perhaps more accurate would be to say that she seemed like one of The Stepford Wives from the 1970s. I was afraid that she might crack during the speech and we would see the electronics inside.
That would be an improvement, however. As it is, I still kind of think that her conservative colleagues are just reptiles inside a human costume. So maybe they are the reptiles and she is just a robot that must be pre-programmed. Clearly, they’ve worked some of the bugs out since the Sarah Palin model. This model sticks to simple sentences and doesn’t launch into open-ended logorrhea. But it is no more convincing.
“I’m Joni Ernst. As a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa, I am proud to speak with you tonight. I was just going to give you coffee. As a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa, I am proud to speak with you tonight. I’m Joni Ernst. I was just going to give you coffee. As a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa, I am proud to speak with you tonight.”