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The Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei pointed out that the Republican Party presented a "decidedly softer" immigration stance in its Spanish-language response to President Obama's January 12 State of the Union address than in its English-language reply.
Mazzei's January 12 post on the Herald's blog Naked Politics compared the responses, the first delivered in English by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and the second in Spanish delivered by Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), which Mazzei called "decidedly softer." The responses offered "different messages" on immigration; while the English version emphasized the need to fix "our broken immigration system" by closing borders, the Spanish version focused on "a permanent and human solution" to immigration reform and for "those who live in the shadows." The contrasting responses reflect "the Republican Party's immigration split" and the ongoing attempts by the GOP to improve relations with Latino voters, which are often discouraged by conservative media and thwarted by the inflammatory rhetoric of some of their candidates.
According to Mazzei, while some discrepancies in the speeches reflected Haley's and Díaz-Balart's different backgrounds, "the Spanish version" of the response "was decidedly softer" on the topic of immigration. From Mazzei's post (emphasis added):
The Republican Party's immigration split was reflected Tuesdayin the two responses hand-picked party members gave -- one in English, one in Spanish -- to President Obama's final State of the Union address. The Spanish version, offered by a Cuban-American congressman from Miami, was decidedly softer.
Here's what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in English:
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can't do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.
We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America's noblest legacies.
Here's what Miami Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart said in Spanish (translation is ours):
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love the United States should ever feel unwelcome in this country. It's not who we are.
At the same time, it's obvious that our immigration system needs to be reformed. The current system puts our national security at risk and is an obstacle for our economy.
It's essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and human solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.
I have no doubt that if we work together, we can achieve this and continue to be faithful to the noblest legacies of the United States.
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Right-wing media are mocking President Obama's decision to honor victims of gun violence during his January 12 State of the Union address by leaving an empty seat in First Lady Michelle Obama's guest box, calling the decision "dangerous" and "empty rhetoric."
Right-wing media personalities have incessantly attacked President Obama's six previous State of the Union addresses -- from calling the speeches "boring" to questioning his decision to invite a wounded veteran to the event -- and have even frequently waged the attacks before the addresses even occurred. Ahead of Obama's January 12 State of the Union address, Media Matters looks back at conservative media's long history of attacking annual addresses.
Before President Obama made his first official State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, right-wing media pundits called the speech "stupid" "propaganda." Fox host Sean Hannity repeatedly referred to the upcoming speech as "propaganda," and former Fox host Glenn Beck told his viewers "you don't even have to watch this stupid speech tonight. I'll watch it for you so you don't have to." Beck added, "I want to hang myself over watching this." Fox Business' John Stossel asked Obama to use the address to apologize for being "arrogant." After his speech, media personalities criticized Obama, and claimed he didn't show enough humility. Stossel said Obama "certainly didn't sound humbled," and only a few minutes into the address, National Review's John Hood criticized Obama's "cadence and rhythm" for coming "across as flippant and arrogant." The talking point wasn't anything new -- frequent Fox guest Ben Stein had predicted that "we'll see Obama with his fake modesty and his fake humility" before the speech took place. Once again, Glenn Beck joined the chorus: "the arrogance from the moment this guy walked in, the arrogance -- there's no humility there."
President Obama made his second State of the Union address on January 25, 2011, and the media predicted it would focus on theatrics instead of substance. Rush Limbaugh directed his listeners to watch a Golf Channel show he appeared in instead of the address, predicting that Obama would "lie for an hour and fifteen minutes." On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned whether Obama would be sincere, suggesting that the president was merely trying "to make sure he gets re-elected." After the speech, Limbaugh continued to attack Obama's sincerity, saying Obama "just doesn't believe" the "pro-America rah-rah" featured in the speech and suggesting that the speech was plagiarized. Fox & Friends' recap of the debate called the speech "boring."
Continuing their tradition of attacking Obama prior to the address, Fox News hosts criticized the focus on economic security and income equality. On Fox & Friends Kilmeade said that Obama would "bring up the class warfare stuff," while co-host Steve Doocy forcasted that it would "ignite the whole class warfare thing." Co-host of Fox's The Five , Andrea Tantaros predicted the address would be a "very divisive, very evil speech" that is "designed to get people in the audience who are sitting home on their duffs ... angry at their neighbors who are actually going out, who are working hard."
After the address, right-wing media largely continued their "class warfare" narrative. Fox's Doocy doubled down against Obama's focus on income inequality, saying that his comments regarding billionaires paying the same percentage of taxes as their secretaries were intended "to kick off his class warfare campaign." Fox Business' Dave Ramsey even claimed Obama "declared war on success in the name of this class warfare politics."
After President Obama's February 12, 2013 State of the Union Speech, right-wing radio host Mark Levin accused Obama of "lying to the American people" in a "Castro-like speech." Levin criticized the economy under Obama claiming he keeps "proposing more programs, more trusts, more partnerships, more agencies, more spending." A Fox Nation headline echoed Levin's comments: "Obama Pleads For Billions In New Deficit Spending." That same post, however, linked to a FoxNews.com article that reported the full transcript of Obama's comments, explaining that his proposals would be "fully paid for" and that "nothing [he's] proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime."
Before the January 28, 2014 State of the Union, Fox News once again downplayed the address, asking, "Does it matter what the president says?" After the address, Rush Limbaugh was critical of Obama's guest, wounded Army Ranger Cory Remsburg's presence. Limbaugh claimed that Obama invited a wounded veteran to the address to say "look what George Bush is responsible for." Right-wing media also pounced on Obama's comments that climate change demands urgent action and that the debate over it is "settled." Their evidence against the claim? Cold weather and snow across the country.
In the most memorable vitriol from President Obama's January 20, 2015 State of the Union, Rush Limbaugh told his audience he had already written his response before the address: "I hope he fails." Limbaugh then bragged that "that has been my State of the Union response every year. I hope he fails. It is what it is. You can't get more clear cut than that." On his January 21 show, Limbaugh rehashed his reasoning behind boycotting the speech saying that he would have been "insulted as a conservative" and "lied to" and that the address would have been the "next Santa Claus list."
Note: this analysis did not include Obama's 2009 Address to Joint Session of Congress.
Media coverage of Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst's Republican response to the State of the Union failed to explain that Ernst's family farm has benefited from large government subsidies, despite highlighting her upbringing on her family farm and calls to cut government spending.
On The Savage Nation, a caller identified by Michael Savage as "Kojo" asked Savage: "[D]o you know how the AIDS got there [Africa]?" Savage responded: "It got there because it was spread from eating green monkey meat, my friend. If you study the science -- but I don't think you have the capacity to understand science, my dear friend Kojo." Later, Savage stated: "See, we don't live in Africa where people settle arguments with machetes. We live in a country where we settle it with arguments. Something you apparently don't know anything about. ... Couldn't use the machete so his mind went blank. There, that's what we got. There's multiculturalism for you. There's immigration for you. There's the new America for you. Bring them in by the millions. Bring in 10 million more from Africa. Bring them in with AIDS. Show how multicultural you are. They can't reason, but bring them in with a machete in their head. Go ahead. Bring them in with machetes in their mind."
Discussing immigration reform, CNN's John King stated that Sen. John McCain "has changed his emphasis -- he still says a guest-worker program, still says treat those here illegally humanely." The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that McCain "subtly alter[ed] his position without actually reversing it," adding that "[t]he lesson he drew from the debate last year ... is that Americans 'want the border secured first, and I would do that.' " In fact, McCain's current support for securing the border before implementing a guest-worker program is flatly inconsistent with his previous assertion that, unless other changes to immigration laws are also passed, "people will risk their lives to cross our borders -- no matter how formidable the barriers -- and most will be successful."
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity echoed President Bush's misleading claim during the State of the Union address that "116 million American taxpayers ... would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800" if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, a claim that Frank Luntz further exaggerated. In fact, because the tax cuts are largely skewed toward the wealthiest Americans, the "average of $1,800" figure cited by Bush dramatically overstates the impact of repealing the tax cuts on most Americans.
A Washington Post article suggested that President Bush's proposal to "replac[e] a tax break for employer-provided health coverage with a new $15,000 tax deduction for families and $7,500 for individuals, regardless of where they buy insurance" was derailed by "[c]ongressional Democrats" who "were not eager to compromise with a Republican president on a signature Democratic issue." In fact, critics of the president's plan offered substantive reasons for opposing the proposal, none of which were reported in the article.
The New York Times' Carl Hulse asserted that, while Democrats were "pleased" that President Bush was giving his final State of the Union speech, "they were not as elated about ... its emphasis on reducing the pet projects known as earmarks beloved by many in Congress." Yet Hulse left out a different reason for congressional criticism of Bush's earmark threat -- that, when the Republicans controlled Congress, Bush approved all of their earmark-laden appropriations bills. Nor did Hulse report that the Democrats approved fewer earmarks last year than the Republicans did in 2006 when they controlled Congress.
A New York Times article falsely suggested that the legal authority "permitting intelligence officials to eavesdrop on the communications of terrorism suspects" would expire on February 1 unless Congress renews it. In fact, neither the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- the principal law "permitting intelligence officials to eavesdrop on the communications of terrorism suspects" -- nor the authority to monitor the communications of suspected terrorists will "expire" on February 1; rather, what are set to expire are the August 2007 revisions to FISA made through the Protect America Act.
During MSNBC's coverage of President Bush's final State of the Union address, Chris Matthews told Sen. John McCain, "Senator McCain, you know you're in my heart!" later concluding, "Well, you show a lot of courage out there, Senator." Matthews has repeatedly gushed over McCain and his candidacy.