The Slatest

The State of the Union Hasn’t Happened Yet and the Bickering Over It Is Already Exhausting

Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Jan. 28, 2014.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The White House announced last week that Michelle Obama would leave an empty chair in her section at tonight’s State of the Union to commemorate “victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice.” This straightforward and not-unprecedented piece of symbolism (George W. Bush left a seat empty in 2003 to commemorate the victims of 9/11) has upset the president’s political opponents a great deal, it seems. 

Ted Cruz responded that aborted fetuses should have a seat too.

(Here’s where that 50 million number comes from.)

Mike Huckabee mentioned abortion as well and added facetiously that the president should commemorate people who are beaten to death with hammers (haha?):

Screen shot/Mike Huckabee for President

(The rhetorical comparison of gun violence to hammer violence is one that Bernie Sanders has also made.)

Some other ideas (the second is a Benghazi reference):

Right-wing evangelical figure Gary Bauer took the game up several notches, raising the possibility of empty seats not just for abortion victims but also for religious business owners, police officers killed in the line of duty, Christian victims of ISIS, and “a dying Judeo-Christian civilization.” So many empty chairs!

Finally, CQ is now reporting that Iowa Rep. Steve King is actually going ahead and doing the damn thing:

New Republican House speaker Paul Ryan, incidentally, is suggesting he might not be able to control himself from making faces during the president’s speech:

Politics! Tonight is going to be fun!