The response from many Republican lawmakers to President Biden. State of the Union address on Tuesday marked a new low for civility in politics in the United States.
Interrupted multiple times by jeering, boos and accusations of lying by GOP members. Biden gamely endured the taunts, at times seeming to revel in. The prospect of egging on his political opponents, calling them out over threats to refuse to raise the debt ceiling and other contentious issues.
That led to an outburst by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who called the president “a liar.”
Moments later, when Biden was discussing overdose deaths cause by fentanyl. Another Republican House member shouted, “It’s your fault!”
Republican response to Biden State of the Union speech?
State of the Union addresses, which are mandated by the Constitution. Have, for most of the nation’s history, been rather staid affairs. The president reports on the progress being made, outlines policy priorities for the year ahead. While the members of the opposing party or parties choose either to applaud unenthusiastically or sit on their hands in protest. Debate over the substance of the speeches had, until recently, been reserve for after they were finished.
Even then, the official rebuttal given by the opposing party only made news headlines. When the person who delivered it neede a sip of water to get through it. On Tuesday, by contrast Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump White House press secretary, came out with guns blazing.
Republican response to Biden State of the Union speech speeds decline of civility in politics
“He’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is,” Sanders said. “In the radical left’s America. Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire.”
In his own rebuttal, former President Donald Trump was equally subtle. Joe Biden’s weaponized Justice Department, and I’m a victim of it, is persecuting his political opponents. His administration is waging war on free speech,” Trump said. They’re trying to indoctrinate and mutilate our children. He’s leading us to the brink of World War III.”
But tonight’s State of the Union and the response to it. While perhaps more coarse and unsparing than those in the past, is simply another step in the decline of civility. Here’s a look back at the recent developments that got us here.
Rep. Joe Wilson yells ‘You lie!’ at President Barack Obama
During a joint address to Congress on Sept. 9, 2009. Then-President Barack Obama laid out the details of his signature health care reform bill to Congress and the nation. Republicans in the chamber who voted against its passage stewed as they listened.
But it was Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who was unable to control himself. “You lie!” Wilson shouted, interrupting Obama, and drawing a chorus of boos from Democrats and Republicans alike for the breach in decorum.
At the urging of leadership, Wilson later contacted the Obama White House, telling them his statements were inappropriate.
At the end of President Donald Trump’s final State of the Union address on Feb. 4, 2020. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angrily tore her copy of the speech into shreds.
The address was given the day before the Senate acquitted Trump in his first impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launch an investigation into Hunter Biden ahead of the presidential campaign.
Like virtually all of his speeches, Trump’s State of the Union address was highly combative and riddled with what outlets like the New York Times deemed to be falsehoods and exaggerated claims.
“It was a manifesto of mistruths,” Pelosi later told reporters regarding the speech.
Reps. Greene and Boebert heckle Biden’s first State of the Union address