If you watched President Obama's State of the Union address last night you may have been as struck as I was by the stunningly stupid, I can't think of any other word for it, response from most Republicans.
It has become a tradition at these events for the each party in the chamber to stand and applaud when the president says anything they might interpret as supporting one of their positions or causes. Both parties do it, and the spirit in the room has usually been, at least in my lifetime, collegial. I mean literally it feels like college kids playing at being adults, with a certain amount of good humor and no, or at least very little, evil intent.
That changed once Obama was elected. We had the Republican who shouted "liar," and similar incidents showing the deep level of animosity some Republicans have for our president. But last night, it seemed to me that anyone outside the USA watching would have to conclude that the Republicans in the House and Senate are simply too "stupid" to understand their own president's words, or so malevolent they don't care how their actions are interpreted by anyone outside the "stupidity" of their core constituency.
Even if you didn't hear the speech you may have heard of the ending, which was more emotional and dramatic than any State of the Union speech I've ever seen, and I've watched pretty much every one since I was a boy sitting on the couch with my father, the Democratic Party Chairman for our town, as we watched the old black and white TV. It was a simple plea—a weak one in retrospect in the eyes of many who want some serious new gun regulations—for a vote on new gun regulations like background checks for all gun sales.
As the president pointed out the survivors of gun violence in the audience, he repeatedly and simply asked for a vote on new gun regulations, not even a vote FOR them, just a vote. As the audience rose to applaud that request and to applaud the victims in the audiences, John Boner and his party members sat in their seats, looking disgruntled, not moving their hands for one clap, as though they were saying, and they were, they despised the idea of going against the NRA so much they wouldn't even consider voting AGAINST new gun regulations, just in case someone might think they would ever even consider or talk about gun regulation in any way.
They did that on numerous issues, including fixing our infrastructure. When once again (he's done this before in this tenure) President Obama pointed out that 7,000 (or is it 70,000) bridges in our country need repairs, and even though he couched his request with how it could be paid for without raising the deficit and how corporations and businesses are making it clear if we had a better infrastructure in the USA, like say they do in European countries and many even so called "developing" countries, they would bring more jobs home, despite all that, the Republicans sat on their hands and looked glum and angry at even the suggestion of fixing anything in this country. It would be almost too weird if it wasn't just the same old politics of "no" in the face of their Tea Party and other rightwing groupthink primary voters and corporate and otherwise wealthy donors and lobbyists. But it came across as just plain sourpuss stubborn stupidity.
How incredibly disappointing is it that we can't dislodge this kind of stupidity from, if not the entire Congress, at least enough to make them an impotent minority, which they would be in any parliamentary form of government, because those who actually vote for these women and men are a minority in the overall population. (One of the most disappointingly memorable images was a glum-faced angry Republican Congresswoman sitting on her hands while the Democrats cheered Obama's call for the House to pass the equal pay for women law. It was a clear statement from this woman that as a woman she didn't want equal pay for other women like she receives in the House!)