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Update: Do I still think its going to be Britt?

Warning: this is a non-Bowie post!

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Back on January 28th I posted a big picture of Alabama Senator Katie Britt, laying down a marker that she was my official prediction to be Donald Trump’s choice for vice president. I wasn’t necessarily going to revisit the matter until Trump makes his choice. And oh, by the way, before I got any further…if you are reading this and don’t know me—- I’m against Trump, so take what comes next in that context.

I made my prediction and posted it, so I can’t get out of it. A few nights ago, when I saw that Britt would be delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union, I was knowingly nodding my head to myself. My wife was giving me a look as if to wonder why I was doing that. It wasn’t important for her to know. It was only important for me to know.

So, we watched President Biden’s speech, which we both thought more than met the moment. If this was a purely political blog, rather than a David Bowie blog, I’d have been writing about that speech over the past few days. (And yeah, yeah, I’m reserving for future use the lyric, “President Joe once had a dream…”) But alas, that’s not the main focus here and I’m coming back to Katie Britt simply because of my January 28th prediction. So, stipulating that I can’t wiggle out of what I already said (that’s the point of posting it)— do I think my prediction is more or less likely after Britt’s speech?

Well, the answer should be resoundingly less. She should have disqualified herself with that performance. So, first I’m going to tell you why, though if you saw the speech or read any of the coverage, you probably already know. But then I’m going to tell you why I’m not so sure.

First— why this was a historically bad— not bad— horrible — speech: Most notably, Britt’s delivery was so overacted as to make Shatner blush. She was emoting like she was parodying herself. Almost like she was in on the joke (I don’t think she was). On top of that, though she’s 42, she looks and sounds like she’s about 25. Whether intentionally or not, she speaks using the annoying, annoying vocal fry register, which is stereotypically associated with girls and young women. I half expected her to bust out a, “like, oh my god!” at any given moment.

But all that was overshadowed by what she was saying. For Britt’s first few sentences, I thought she was going somewhere. She — and I’ve alreay forgotten her exact words— but she seemed to be giving voice to the vague sense of dread about the present and future that feeds the fear that makes the MAGA crowd long for a mythical past. She began by laying the groundwork against modernity, but then she almost immediately veered off course into a nightmare version of pinball, hurtling at high speeds from one collision to another.

The true topic of her speech was gender. Just about everything she said reminded us about a woman’s place. She was delivering the speech from her kitchen, repeatedly reminding us that she’s a wife and mother (actually, she used the word, “mom,” which has its own set of connotations). Despite being a MAGA senator from Alabama who opposes abortion, she told us that she’s pro-IVF (though she didn’t say she’d vote for the bill to protect IVF from the likes of Alabama Republicans). And then there was the gang rape.

Katie Britt made the issue of immigration about gang rape. Here, this pretty young woman was not simply talking about gender roles, but sex. She described in graphic, terrifying detail the repeated gang rape of a human trafficking victim and seemed to be blaming it all on Joe Biden’s immigration policy. That would have been bizarre enough by itself, but a couple of days later it turns out that she was referring to an incident that took place in Mexico at the time George W. Bush was president. The incident had absolutely nothing to do with Biden’s immigration policy (or, as far as I can tell, any American policy). Only by the narrowest, most literal parsing of what Britt said was this not a flat-out lie, but even by that narrow reading there is no defense for making this story the centerpiece of her speech. It was deliberately misleading. No, I’m going to come down and say it was a lie. The point that she was communicating was not true, and she knew it. This alone should disqualify her from even being considered for the vice presidency.

And yet…

Who was Katie Britt speaking to? She wasn’t reaching out to swing voters. I thought her performance stood in sharp contrast to other young women from MAGA world like Elise Stefanik and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who come off to me as aggressive warriors. It is easy to forget how appealing Sarah Palin seemed for about a week after John McCain plucked her from obscurity to nominate her for the vice presidency in 2008. Yes, she was young and good looking, but she also seemed confident and commanding. She was taking the fight to Obama. This was not appealing to me, but she seemed to project leadership qualities to her side.

Britt displayed none of these qualities. She seemed to be afraid. She was afraid for her children, afraid for herself and afraid for America. Her kitchen — the place where women belong— came off as a refuge from the horrors of the outside world. She was a damsel in distress. Rather than a Viking warrior, she was the princess in a tower, in need of being rescued.

And that brings us back to her audience. Perhaps an audience of one. Was Katie Britt auditioning for the role of Tess Trueheart, to play opposite Donald Trump’s Dudley Do-Right? (Yes, I know, Tess is from Dick Tracy— Dudley’s fair maiden was Nell Fenwick, but Tess Trueheart sounds better). Trump doesn’t want a future leader of the Republican Party or MAGA movement— he wants a a 1950s-style work wife to provide for and protect…and use however he pleases.

Mike Pence was obsequious and fawning, yet he was too independent for Donald Trump. Katie Britt’s performance displayed no risk of that. She seemed to be a resident of Trump’s American dystopia, the one only he can save us from. Offering no leadership or vision of her own, her function already seems to be to cry for help, emoted using a dog-whistle frequency that perhaps only Trump can fully hear. There is no evidence that Katie Britt has any chance of overshadowing Donald Trump. Her function is to describe the horror, bat her eyes longingly at her hero, and lavish praise upon him in response to his daring deeds. She didn’t mention Trump in her speech. She’s saving that for the convention. What she did is (attempt to) define the problem. She’s positioning herself to react with glee when the solution is coronated in Milwaukee.

Plus, she’s a visual reminder of what women are good for in Trump’s hellscape, and she’s not bad on the eyes, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean Donny-boy?

So, Katie Britt should have just disqualified herself. But Donald Trump should have disqualified himself years ago. America and the world should not be in the position it finds itself at this moment. Yet here we are.

And… I’ll stick with my prediction.

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Now back to David Bowie…

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