Tonight President Obama will address the nation in his sixth State of the Union address, just a few weeks after Democrats were destroyed in the midterm elections. And, per tradition, as soon as he wraps up, Republicans will get their moment to throw some shade at the president.
The person selected by Republicans to offer the State of the Union rebuttal is the new Iowa senator, Joni Ernst. Haven't heard of her? That's the point. The party offering the rebuttal usually picks someone they think has a shot at a future run for a higher office—it's their chance to get prime time shine. Past politicians who have given the rebuttal include Bob Dole, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Paul Ryan. (Marco Rubio's water bottle speech was probably the greatest of all time.)
At first glance, Ernst looks like someone who might be worthy of some love: she's one of the Republicans who won their seats during the midterms (they'll show off how much the Democrats were smashed in the elections), she was deployed to Kuwait in 2003, and is a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. That makes her the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress and the first female veteran in the Senate. Not bad to have on your resume.
Dig a little deeper though, and Ernst starts to seem a little, well, nuts. There's your run-of-the mill Tea Party demagogue crazy: though Republicans are delivering a Spanish-language version of their rebuttal tonight (given by Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo) Ernst has supported making English the United State's national language, and sued Iowa's secretary of state for offering voting forms that came in languages other than English. There's the O.J. Simpson-style help-me-find-the-real-killer crazy: she still thinks there were WMDs in Iraq. Then there's your stomach-churning crazy: Ernst got her name out in Iowa by making an ad last spring that talked about her castrating hogs. And of course she's called Obama a "dictator" and believes he should be impeached, is for banning abortion, and wants to eliminate the IRS, EPA, and Department of Education.
But this is the most fun crazy of all: Ernst believes that "Agenda 21," a voluntary action plan by the United Nations to promote sustainable development, was a scheme to take farmland from Iowa's farmers. It's kinda like District 9 meets Chinatown, set in Sioux City. Forget a village missing its idiot, Michael Bay is missing a collaborator. This is a blown chance by Republicans to showcase one of their own who can appeal to young Americans who tend to vote Democrat in presidential elections.