In my own take on President Joe Biden’s address to Congress this week, I dismissed the official Republican response by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and referred to it as perhaps “something between Republican desperation and tokenism as the former Party of Lincoln deals with the fact that African Americans are a large and growing element of the electorate and a group that preferred Biden over Trump in November by about 87-13 percent.”
But Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent did a much smarter and more substantive takedown at column length on the Scott rebuttal. Sargent did the work of actually taking Scott’s facts and arguments seriously. Those facts and arguments didn’t fare well.
I’ll give you a chunk of the top of Sargent’s column, and urge you to read the whole thing. What would really be great is if Scott or anyone who can speak for the Republican Party could answer the questions raised by Sargent’s column, which began:
“It would be wonderful if the Republican Party that Sen. Tim Scott conjured up in his rebuttal speech on Wednesday night actually existed.
“In his response to President Biden’s address to Congress, the South Carolina Republican portrayed a party profoundly devoted to racial progress, grounding public health responses in science, spending generously to help Americans through hard times, and making it easier to vote for people of all races.
“In so doing, Scott revealed a party badly on the defensive in some of our biggest arguments. Rebuttal speeches are often useless, but this one is instructive: It hints at how the GOP hopes to recapture power despite their defensive posture, with a waiting game.”
Scott’s remarks revolved around the idea that Republicans have better ideas for leading America out of the pandemic, the recession and back to greatness. But Sargent pointed out obviously overlooked problems with the implications of that, writing:
“Scott employed a two-step. He portrayed the GOP as favoring government spending amid crisis by citing spending Republicans supported under President Donald Trump, while falling back on bromides about big government to dismiss spending proposed by Biden.
“Scott hailed the packages of 2020, including the $2 trillion bill last spring and the $900 billion bill in December. But then he pivoted. The $2 trillion covid-19 relief bill that Biden signed was nothing but a ‘partisan’ exercise. Biden’s current proposals are a ‘liberal wish list’ funded by the ‘biggest tax hikes in a generation.’
“But this GOP simply doesn’t exist. GOP support for big packages under Trump was just the usual opportunistic Keynesianism, in which Republicans favor stimulus and deficits under GOP presidents and rail at them under Democratic ones.”