Kim Davis was among the many citizens present at President Obama’s valedictory State of the Union Address on Monday night. Ms. Davis, a County Clerk from rural Kentucky, first made headlines in 2015 when she refused to issue marriage licenses after the federal mandate declaring same sex marriages legal. The legal standoff ended when Davis spent five days in jail for defying a federal order, and the governor of her commonwealth declared that marriage licenses would be issued without the name of the presiding county clerks.
Questions arose regarding the identity of Davis’ benefactor. Charla Bansley, a spokesperson for Liberty Counsel, the legal firm who has represented Davis in her previous forays into public life, played coy with CNN.
“We are not releasing the names of the Congressmen who provided tickets for Kim and Mat because the focus should not be on the Congressmen or politics but on why Kim and (Liberty Council Chairman) Mat Staver are there. Kim will be in the gallery tonight as a counterweight to the President’s message. She is representing many Americans who have been adversely affected by the President’s policies, specifically this Administration’s trampling of religious liberty.”
It was later revealed that tickets to the event were provided by Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Jordan maintained that he did not arrange for Davis’ attendance as a way to make a statement. He went on to say that he offered her the tickets at the request of The Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative lobbying group. According to Congressman Jordan, Davis’ presence was not about his opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding marriage equality, a stance he claims is well-known among his constituents. Jordan framed his decision to act as Capitol Hill Ticketmaster to Davis as a way to highlight what he saw as President Obama’s failed policies, something that does not, in his view, “make a statement.”
Kim Davis kept her remarks simple and to the point.
Davis’ unadorned candor and aggressively counter-fashionable affect did not obscure the calculated theatrics she engaged in while seated at the back row in the House of Representatives. The Liberty Council press liason who refused to identify who invited Ms. Davis to the address was also quick to note her seat location, something that was not missed by news outlets who cut to Davis for reaction shots during the speech.
There was no mistaking the Kentucky official’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. A correspondent for the Daily Mail noted Davis’ grim demeanor and refusal to applaud during most of the address. Matt Fuller, congressional correspondent for the Huffington Post, kept a running count of Davis’ reactions to the President’s talking points. Fuller reported she refused to applaud or acknowledge the announcement of President Obama’s entrance as Commander-in-Chief, offered a single clap at one point, and golf-clapped when the President praised the U.S. military. Observers noted she remained seated during the standing ovation at the end of the address, rising only after sticking her ticket in her mouth and adjusting her clothing.
Davis was mum about who she wore to the event, but her styling choices made her a standout in a crowd of tailored suits, military issue clothing, and the usual scattering of khaki, jacket, and tie press mufti. Dressed in an adventurous mix of red, white, and blue patterns, the festive patriotic theme of her clothing belied the grim countenance she maintained during the Commander-In-Chief’s speech.
Was this a good look for the self-styled speaker for social conservatism in America? Talk radio host and Fox News contributor Meghan McCain took to Twitter to offer her opinion about Davis public show at the SOTU.
Bringing Kim Davis is a bad look for everyone, all the way around. #SOTU— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) January 13, 2016
At the other end of the political spectrum, Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead was as taciturn as Davis when she weighed in on the would-be defender of religious freedom.
Educated guesses about Davis’ future suggest she is nowhere near the end of her interest in public life. Is there evolution as a pundit for the Right in her future? Possibly, but only on Kim Davis’ terms.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]