It was The Stepford Wives meets The Handmaid’s Tale. For anyone regularly tuned into the world of American politics or popular culture, you are aware of the State of the Union response given by Senator Katie Britt. Britt, the junior senator from the state of Alabama, delivered a rebuttal that was widely attacked by politicians, pundits, and viewers across the political spectrum.

Rolling Stone was inundated, sometimes completely unprompted, with excoriating messages from longtime GOP operatives, right-leaning pollsters, conservative Capitol Hill staff, MAGA lawyers, and even some senior members of Trump’s own 2024 campaign. Left-wing blogs went into overtime, attacking and analyzing Britt’s response. It certainly did not require the skills of a futurist to realize that her less than stellar efforts would result in a raw and ruthless parody on Saturday Night Live.

Over on the political, social, and cultural right, one of the Republican pollsters called Britt “creepy,” one national Republican consultant stated bluntly “I’ll give Biden this - He at least gave a better speech than Katie Britt,” and an unnamed Trump adviser asked of Rolling Stone, “What the hell am I watching right now?” “It’s one of our biggest disasters ever,” another unnamed Republican strategist told The Daily Beast. Radio host, Megyn Kelly, all but served the junior senator her political severance papers.

One thing is for certain, Katie Britt was successful in one manner. She had people talking about her.

In all fairness, we can safely say that giving the State of the Union response is pretty much a thankless job. You are in the crosshairs of the opposing party, which is bound to attack or misrepresent anything you say in an effort to discredit you. It is a precarious task by its very nature. More often than not, it provides few advantages to the career of the individual who receives the ambiguous honor of delivering it. Indeed, there have been some very poor performances. Britt’s, however, was a colossal failure, a wipeout that overshadowed even the less stellar attempts such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s near drowning in 2009, Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) water guzzling in 2013, and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) appearing in front of the cameras with ChapStick plastered over his chin in 2018, prompting viewers to believe he was panting.

What tipped Britt’s lukewarm performance from merely clueless to outright obscene was its darkest moment, when she told a horrific and sadistic story that, at least by implication, turned out to be a vile, bold-faced lie. It was about a woman Britt met when she visited the Texas border. “She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped,” Britt said. “We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a Third World country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace.”

Such an account appeared to be a powerful, touching, and emotional story, and by any truthful account, it would be. However, some stealth fact-checking, led by journalist Jonathan Katz in a TikTok video that went viral, revealed that although the woman in question and her experiences are accurate, they did not take place on American soil, but rather occurred in Mexico, and between 2004 and 2008, more than a decade before Biden was sworn in as president. The Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, awarded Britt four Pinocchios for the way she twisted this tragic story to make a craven partisan point.

The 42-year-old, a rising star in her party, was supposed to represent “America’s mom,” according to talking points that were sent around to conservative influencers before she spoke from her upscale designer kitchen. Fellow Alabama senator, Tommy Tuberville, commented, “She was picked as a housewife, not just a senator.” Really?

The truth is that Senator Britt is an attorney who served on Capitol Hill as chief of staff to her predecessor, Richard C. Shelby. She further served as deputy manager and communications director of his reelection campaign. In addition, she was the first woman to lead the Business Council of Alabama, which is the state’s chamber of commerce, as its president and chief executive. Thus, she has been a pioneer insofar as it relates to female politicians in Alabama, better known as the “Heart of Dixie.” The fact that Britt is a politician who hails from the more centrist, middle-of-the-road Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney school of Republicans has made her suspect and viewed with a jaundiced eye by the more extreme MAGA right Republicans.

Serious, faulty, and disturbing falsehoods aside, the manner in which Senator Britt was presented to the American public revealed some alarming and major flaws behind why the GOP struggles to recruit suburban women effectively. First, such a breathy, overwrought response would have been seen as flawed by any high school drama teacher and fellow students. Second, such a background sent another deeply contradictory and problematic message that was hardly reassuring during a moment when the Republican Party is attempting to dispel its image as a retrograde entity that desires to return women to the pre-1960s era.

An era of women being largely nonexistent in the workplace, primarily raising families, forced to accept physical and emotional abuse, battling mental health issues (as was the case with many men for that matter) by suffering in isolation and silence, having to quietly overlook, if not outright tolerate, marital infidelity, bereft of any legal rights from the judicial system, and residing in a state of potential economic and social vulnerability, deeply mired in second-class status. Such an image will hardly prompt many women across the political and generational spectrum - particularly many millennial and Gen Z women - to embrace the party.

There are people weighing in on Katie Britt’s future. Some argue that she has likely been omitted from Trump’s short list for vice president. Others believe that it will take her years to recuperate from such a politically disastrous situation. Still others are content to simply speculate. One thing is for sure, neither the Republican National Committee nor the National Republican Party did themselves any favors by ushering Katie Britt into the political lion’s den to deliver such an ill-judged response.

BlackCommentator.com Guest

Commentator, Dr. Elwood Watson,

Historian, public speaker, and cultural

critic is a professor at East Tennessee

State University and author of the recent

book, Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in

Contemporary America (University of

Chicago Press), which is available in

paperback and on Kindle via Amazon and

other major book retailers. Cotnact

Dr.Watson and BC.

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