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Kennedy III: We are all equal and we all count

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) says this administration isn't just targeting the laws that protect us but the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 4:15 AM
Updated: Feb 1, 2018 4:30 AM

Outraged by President Donald Trump's action in office and fueled by the #metoo and Black Lives Matters movements, Democrats' liberal base is hugely engaged and activated.

What better time than the Democratic response to Trump's first State of the Union speech on Tuesday night to capitalize on that momentum with a voice from and of those twin movements, right?

Or pick Joe Kennedy III, a white male Massachusetts Democrat and scion to one of the most famous families in American politics.

That's not to say Kennedy wasn't good; "Droolgate" aside, he delivered a solid rebuttal to Trump and cast Democrats as a credible alternative. And it's not to say Kennedy isn't a voice for the future of the party; at 37, he is widely regarded as a rising star who might someday run for president.

It's just to say that, at first glance, he seemed like a somewhat odd pick for this moment.

But, there are lots of extenuating circumstances that went into the Kennedy selection that show just how hard it is to find exactly the right person to deliver the SOTU response. Among them:

1. 2020 politics: The most prominent names within the Democratic party -- Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris etc. -- are all actively thinking about running against Trump. They represent the diverse face that the party wants to put forward. But, to choose any one of them to deliver this very high profile address would look like that person was getting favorable treatment -- and a leg up in the 2020 jockeying. You can be sure that if, say, Gillibrand was chosen to give the Democratic Response, the political operations for Booker, Warren and Sanders would be up in arms. So, none of them wind up even getting considered.

2. Fundraising: A big part of the calculation when choosing who will give the response to President's State of the union speech is how the party's donor base will respond. You need someone people know -- or someone whose name they recognize. You need to turn their frustration in watching Trump's speech into actual dollar contributed to Democratic causes and committee. Whether or not donors know the specifics of Joe Kennedy III's life, they know his last name and like it. That makes it more likely they decide to part ways with their cash.

3. Proven performer: People, most of whom are sitting on their couch in sweats, are convinced that doing this sort of public speaking is easy. All you have to do is read the teleprompter! As we've seen in the recent past -- Marco Rubio's water grab, Bobby Jindal's unwitting "Kenneth the Page" impersonation -- it's a lot harder than it looks, even for people who make a living speaking in front of large numbers of people. Neither party wants to run the risk of a total PR disaster by plucking someone who isn't used to the bright lights of a national address. They want a proven performer; a safe pick is always better than a sorry pick.

When you run all of the prospective Democratic response deliverers through that gauntlet, the number of choices is much more limited. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has an interesting profile but is largely unknown nationally. Ditto Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo, who, nonetheless, would have been an intriguing pick. Virtually every Senate Democrat under 65 is running for -- or thinking about running for -- president. Aside from Nancy Pelosi, who is too divisive a figure to put in the response speaking slot, there just aren't any House members with national profiles.

And so, the duty fell to Joe Kennedy III. He wasn't the perfect pick. But that''s because a perfect pick almost certainly didn't exist.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
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White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
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Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
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Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
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Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35513

Reported Deaths: 2155
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5862262
Cuyahoga4444226
Hamilton2672150
Marion266628
Lucas2267242
Pickaway207437
Mahoning1431174
Summit1420173
Butler89329
Columbiana79353
Stark72791
Lorain68759
Montgomery66316
Trumbull57348
Belmont42912
Warren37321
Miami35730
Tuscarawas3434
Ashtabula33934
Medina33722
Delaware33713
Portage32557
Lake30812
Wood29446
Clark2856
Geauga28432
Wayne27450
Fairfield2676
Licking24810
Allen21232
Mercer2117
Clermont2115
Richland2003
Erie17214
Darke17021
Madison1567
Washington11819
Crawford1144
Morrow1071
Greene1015
Ottawa9916
Putnam9214
Sandusky7911
Monroe7812
Auglaize733
Ross712
Hocking694
Jefferson672
Hardin610
Huron581
Williams551
Union521
Muskingum520
Hancock501
Clinton431
Shelby433
Wyandot412
Fulton410
Fayette400
Coshocton400
Logan390
Holmes391
Preble371
Guernsey351
Defiance342
Carroll313
Lawrence300
Brown291
Champaign281
Highland251
Knox251
Vinton212
Seneca202
Ashland200
Athens181
Perry181
Scioto160
Henry150
Paulding140
Jackson140
Adams101
Harrison100
Gallia81
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
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