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GOP's Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann To Give Obama Responses

Quick, what politician had his or her career made by giving the response to State of the Union speech by the president of the opposition party?

I drew a blank, too. Easier to think of those who have been knocked down a few pegs by the experience. Think Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Republican in 2009, for instance.

Still, if you get chosen to give the opposition's response, you're usually one of your party's rising stars.

Also, the amount of free media you get is the equivalent of political catnip.

So despite the reality of becoming the very definition of the word "afterthought," there is an upside for Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who got the nod from Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to be the official responder.

Ryan will not only be in Obama's shadow, he'll need to deal with competition from fellow Republican. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN.) She plans to give an unofficial response on behalf of the Tea Party Express.

Boehner is quoted in a news release on Ryan's site:

"Paul Ryan is uniquely qualified to address the state of our economy and the fiscal challenges that face our country," said Speaker Boehner. "We're broke, and decisive action is needed to help our economy get back to creating jobs and end the spending binge in Washington that threatens our children's future. I'm pleased that Paul will be outlining a common-sense vision for moving our country forward."

From the same release, Ryan is quoted saying:

Delivering an address to the nation is a unique opportunity, and I am grateful to my party's leaders for entrusting me with this responsibility... I look forward to outlining a vision for a future that fulfills the uniquely American legacy of leaving the next generation with a stronger, more prosperous nation.

The choice of Ryan guarantees that congressional Democrats and bloggers will take the opportunity to mention that Ryan is the author of a Social Security reform plan that would privatize some of its funds for younger beneficiaries.

Over at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog, Steven Benen wrote:

Given Ryan's often-ridiculous, far-right worldview, he's a pretty awful choice.

As for Bachmann, The Hill reports:

The Tea Party Express will host Bachmann's response to Obama's speech to Congress on its website "shortly after" his speech and the official Republican response concludes, according to a release from the group.

"We're doing this broadcast to demonstrate that the hardworking citizens of this country have a powerful voice in Washington, even if they still aren't being heard in the White House," Bachmann said in the release.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.