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'The Curse of the State-of-the-Union First Responder'

9:02 AM, Jan 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Fred Barnes, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking House Republican, will deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union address Tuesday night, just minutes after President Obama finishes. She'll be speaking to a national TV audience. For a little-known Republican whose district covers the eastern third of the state of Washington, this looks like a plum assignment.

Only it's not. History is not on her side. Nor is the schedule, the staging, the press or anything else. Responses by the out-party have been part of the State of the Union ritual since 1966. Yet there's never been a truly successful one. Indeed, Ms. Rodgers is unlikely to win accolades, elevate her party or advance her career. No responder, Republican or Democrat, ever has.

That Mr. Obama will overshadow her is inevitable. He will speak in a House chamber packed with members of Congress, Supreme Court justices (not all of them), cabinet secretaries and foreign diplomats. He'll get standing ovations. The press galleries will be filled.

Ms. Rodgers will be a lonely figure amid the majesty and grandeur of the evening. She will speak to a television camera in a room in the Capitol—no pomp, no audience, no ovations. "It's a setup for failure," says politics professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. "If it were a prize fight between the president and the responder, the referee would stop it."

Whole thing here.

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