**Posted by Phineas
So, last night was the State of the Union address. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t watch. First off, Obama’s a tedious, hackneyed speaker, and listening to him for an hour would be painful. If you did, you’re made of sterner stuff than I.
Second, we know what he’s going to say. As I posted on Twitter  yesterday morning:
#SOTUinLesssThan140  Set up straw man, present false choice, bash critics, pretend moderation, wage class war.
— Phineas Fahrquar (@irishspy) February 12, 2013 
And, from what I can see in the transcript , he mostly lived down to my expectations. (1)
But I was interested in the Republican response. For one, prior response speeches have ranged from indifferent to outright flops, but, as this was the first speech of Obama’s second term, there was a chance to begin anew and to lay the first paving stones on the road to 2014 and 2016. Also, the speakers were two men whose careers I’ve followed with interest: Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl) and Rand Paul (R-Ky). Both, I think, gave very good responses, concentrating on philosophy over wonky policy details and providing an excellent contrast between our vision of limited government, liberty, and free markets, on the one hand, and Obama’s progressive dream of limitless government, statism, and dependency on the other.
First, Marco Rubio (2):
And then Rand Paul:
While I have points of disagreement with both men, I could comfortably, happily vote for either for president. Along with Governor Jindal of Louisiana, I think we have at least three strong candidates for 2016, and a great improvement over the last group.
(1) About that proposed $9 per hour minimum wage, indexed to inflation. I suggest anyone who thinks that’s a good idea look up the words “inflationary spiral.”  Government should have no role in setting prices or wages, period. It’s just bad policy .
(2) You probably noticed the awkward moment when Rubio reached for a bottle of water. According to actor Adam Baldwin on Twitter last night, that was a sign that the producers screwed up and left the room too warm, which, when combined with the hot lights, left Rubio dying of thirst. He handled it well that night and this morning, though, making jokes about it and disarming the inevitable “OMG!! He drank water!” attacks from the Left. (Really, guys. Is that the best you’ve got?)
(Crossposted at Public Secrets )