Opinions about the president's State of the Union speech will no doubt vary. I thought it was thoughtful, positive and generally pretty good, with enough specifics (something totally missing in the official Republican response by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers -- though we did learn about her kids and being in 4H) to be satisfying. But I suspect it will close to unanimous that the most entertaining part of the evening came during MSNBC's post-speech coverage. That's when Rachel Maddow interviewed Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KA) who had posted several incendiary Tweets after the speech.
No doubt fans of Rep. Huelskamp will be applauding his combative appearance, though they will likely be alone. Even the wonderful Steve Schmidt (former senior adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign) had a hard time keeping a straight face afterwards when the panel was discussing it. Schmidt even noted that one of the panelist's use of the word "nutshell" was particularly appropriate.
Maddow does an interesting job for one of these interviews -- rather than give Mr. Huelskamp just a platform to vent, she refuses to let his most hyperbolic statements go without challenge, and keeps trying to get him to be specific, and she is as blunt, though polite, as I've seen an interviewer. And at times her reaction ranges from anger to wanting to burst out laughing from bemusement.
I was watching the interview live, and unfortunately this video is the interview alone, not the discussion after. Half the fun of that discussion was seeing the reaction of the other panelists, seemingly pleased that they hadn't had to handle the interview themselves, and understanding the trapeze act Ms. Maddow had had to go through live. The best reaction came, however, from Chris Hayes, who had sat quietly during the others' comments, and then suddenly just interrupted, ready to burst, unable to hold his almost-sputtering reaction. To paraphrase him, he said, struggling to stay seated, "There in a nutshell we have the past five years of politics in Washington. The president makes a speech about raising the minimum wage, saying we should get business leaders together, and how wonderful America is, and the Republican response is, 'What about all the people killed at Benghazi??!!!'"!!!!!
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor