early and often

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Showed That the GOP Is Truly Not ‘Normal’

It’s official! Sanders is a true Trump protégé. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Much of the reaction to Tuesday’s State of the Union address has focused on the unprecedented heckling by House Republicans rather than on what President Joe Biden actually said. As our own Ben Jacobs put it, “It wasn’t simply that Biden wasn’t treated with the deference that the British would give a monarch. At times, he wasn’t given the deference the British would afford a crank giving a speech about UFOs at Hyde Park Corner.”

The howling mob, of course, played into Biden’s efforts to display some openness to bipartisanship while exposing the extremism of a major segment of the opposition. He set a trap, and Republicans eagerly fell into it. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was sitting behind the president, seemed to understand that. He glowered at his riotous backbenchers like a school principal trying to stare down unruly kids chanting obscenities at a basketball game. In effect, the unforgiving cameras made it look like Marjorie Taylor Greene, ringleader of the hecklers, had displaced McCarthy as the leader of House Republicans. I’m sure he felt that this was terribly unfair.

But any “this doesn’t reflect our party” defense doesn’t apply to what the country saw immediately following Biden’s address. The official GOP response from newly elected Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders may have been more coherent than the shrieks aimed at Biden in the House chamber, but it was no less uncivil and extremist. From the very beginning, she compared Biden to a lying child. It’s true that she didn’t have the benefit of knowing exactly what the president would say, but her characterization of him was so remote from anything he’d said as to be hallucinogenic:

I’m the first woman to lead my state. He’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is. In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race but not to love one another or our great country. Whether Joe Biden believes this madness or is simply too weak to resist it, his administration has been completely hijacked by the radical left.

Sanders offered zero evidence for this remarkable assertion or for ancillary howlers — like her claim that law-abiding citizens live in cowering fear “after years of Democrat attacks on law enforcement and calls to ‘defund the police.’” How many times must Biden and other Democrats deny that they want to “defund the police” before cynical politicians like Sanders stop making remarks like this?

It got worse:

President Biden is unwilling to defend our border, defend our skies, and defend our people. He is unfit to serve as commander in chief. And while you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day.

What on earth is she talking about? Certainly not about anything Biden said in his address or has ever said in his many decades in the public eye. But here’s the pièce de résistance of this remarkable speech: “The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy.”

Keep in mind that Sanders served Donald Trump for two years. Even if you unaccountably agree with Trump’s own self-characterization that he was the greatest president ever, there is nothing “normal” about him. He would stand out in a zoo of exotic animals. And there’s nothing “normal” about MTG, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, and a host of other Republicans who (like Sanders) are very clear about their conviction that this is a time for extremism in the defense of what they consider liberty. Are these words from Sanders a normal political sentiment?

Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols … all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is — your freedom of speech. That’s not normal. It’s crazy, and it’s wrong.

This is apparently a reference to the idea of equal rights for all Americans — including those Sanders doesn’t deem “normal.”

Unfortunately, this performance was nothing new for Sanders. In her all-but-unopposed bid for the Arkansas governorship, she frequently offered herself as the “last line of defense” for citizens under siege from socialists and the ravening beasts of “cancel culture.” In Arkansas, for God’s sake. That’s not normal. It’s crazy.

Some think Sanders wants to run for president or vice-president sooner rather than later, positioning herself as a Trump protégé who’s acceptable to “normal” Republicans. She wouldn’t be the first politician to use a State of the Union response to charm her party’s base and make herself more of a national figure. But at the moment, barring objections from her fellow partisans, she represents the entirety of the GOP, and that should alarm all of us.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders Showed the GOP Is Truly Not ‘Normal’