Advocating local control and limited government is the quintessential
response to a State of the Union address that is likely to justify --
even subtly -- an activist government protecting the people against big
problems. McDonnell's job is to make sure that voters associate his
response with the notion that people at the local levels know better
than Washington about how to govern their lives.
2. Tell the nation about his daughter's military service.
Liberal pontificators will try to diminish McDonnell by bringing up the
infamous graduate thesis that he wrote while attending Regent Law
School, in which he hypothesized whether women who entered the workforce
could have a detrimental impact on the nuclear family. To preemptively
counter this attack, he might mention that his daughter served in
Iraq. When Jim Webb responded to George Bush's State of the Union
speech in 2007, he mentioned his family's history of military
service--including that of his son--and talked credibly about national
security to buffer Democrats against charges that they were weak on
national security in one of the best and more effective State of the
Union responses to date. In a similar vein, if McDonnell mentions his
daughter's military service, it will make it difficult for liberals to
paint him as the Neanderthal that MSNBC viewers will no doubt be asked
to believe he is.
3. Discuss education reform.
McDonnell should wax enthusiastically about how much he is looking
forward to working with Obama on education reforms, particularly those
dealing with charter schools, merit pay for teachers, and loosening the
iron-clad grip teacher's unions have on the public education system.
First, focusing on education will show that he (and by proxy, the GOP) are willing to work with Obama on an issue that should not even be
partisan in the first place.
Second, by graciously showing his support for Obama's Race to the Top
program, the media might mention that Obama did not invite him to the
Race to the Top kickoff event in Falls Church, Virginia -- a fairly
dumb mistake by a White House seeking bipartisan cover.
Obama will probably talk a lot about the need for bipartisanship and
will paint Republicans as the "Party of No" who are hell-bent on being
obstructionists while being devoid of any positive ideas. The best
response is to put forth a positive idea.
4. Tim Kaine = DNC = Tax increase.
McDonnell might note that Virginia's outgoing Governor, Democrat Tim
Kaine, tried to leave him with a tax increase, which Virginia's General
Assembly resoundingly rejected by a 97-0 vote. He'll note that the
titular head of the Democratic National Committee, Kaine, tried to
raise taxes while he left office during a recession. He should leave it
up to the audience to decide what, if anything, that says about Democrats
and the person leading the effort to re-elect Democrats in the 2010
5. Don't try to do to much.