Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst caught a lot of criticism for her performance delivering the official Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union. But considering the task—and her predecessors—she wasn't all that bad.
Here's a sampling of the condemnation Ernst received from liberal political pundits:
But really, the newly-elected senator did a perfectly fine job responding to Obama's address. The State of the Union response is a tough gig. The speaker must counter the president's message without all the pomp and circumstance of a joint address to Congress and in a tenth of the amount of time.
Ernst's response was not memorable, and that's a good thing. She didn't lunge for a water bottle like Marco Rubio. She didn't look at the wrong camera like Michele Bachmann. She didn't fall completely flat like Bobby Jindal. She didn't participate in wacked-out piece of performance art like Bill Clinton.
And she didn't make a glaring grammatical error.
Her speech did not convey an overly negative tone against Obama. She talked about her humble upbringing in Iowa; how she worked at Hardee's to save for college and how her mother used to put plastic bags on her one good pair of shoes to keep them dry in the rain. It was a decent attempt at reassuring Americans that the GOP understands their economic concerns after Obama painted them as defenders of wealthy plutocrats.
Ernst's overarching message that Republicans are ready for a fresh start now that they are in full control of Congress. She outlined how the party plans "to make Washington focus on your concerns again" and work to break through political gridlock.
“We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear," she said. "And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country."
Yes, that's a boilerplate political message. But that's about all you can ask for from a State of the Union response.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.