Finally, and most disturbingly, is the significance of the venue for the Republican response to the SOTU—the legislature in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond, of course, was the capitol of the confederacy. Although the significance of the locale was apparently missed by the networks and the Democrats, it likely would not be missed by the core Republican constituency—southern whites.I don't know. For some reason, everyone's making a big deal about the fact that Gov. McDonnell's speech was delivered in the well of a state legislature. No one seems to remember Gov. Christie Todd Whitman's response to President Clinton's 1995 State of the Union address. Like McDonnell, she spoke in front of her state legislative chamber. Surely there was no racial component there. And I'm guessing it wasn't the GOP's intention to conjure an alternative universe in which women ran the nation.
I think the visual was actually the key here. The president has an enormous advantage when delivering a SOTU, including a built in audience, roughly half of which is likely to cheer wildly for him at the drop of a hat. A governor speaking in front of a legislature has at least a fighting chance of looking good by comparison.