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?):
(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):
#EmptySeat for Americans, Israelis endangered by Iran’s Obama-funded nuke program.— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) January 12, 2016
GOP should have empty chair for Ambassador Stevens. https://t.co/twEOyl9edB— Instapundit.com (@instapundit) January 8, 2016
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:
The president & I don't agree on much. Might be hard to hide that in my facial expressions. https://t.co/nZSCZljVaK— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) January 12, 2016
Politics! Tonight is going to be fun!