Biden Stays on Script and Emerges as the “Adult in the Room” During State of the Union Address
President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and while the speech was mostly well-received, much of the conversation around it was focused on the heckling and disruptions from some Republican members of Congress. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was particularly vocal, repeatedly shouting that Biden was a “liar” during the speech. Her outburst was the most dramatic of the night, and it was a stark contrast to Joe Biden's confident, optimistic, and “normal” demeanor.
Biden largely stayed on script, but he also went off-script in response to the heckling, rolling with the interruptions and using them to reinforce his message. He even joked about “welcoming all converts” after certain Republicans yelled their approval for his policies. The president also used the speech to highlight the importance of issues such as policing reform, lead pipe replacement, and capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month for all Americans, regardless of their age or income.
The Republican response to Biden’s speech was delivered by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She accused Biden of caring more about “woke fantasies” than economic concerns and called him “unfit to serve.” While she did not directly address the heckling, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) repeatedly shushed his conference, attempting to keep them in check.
The event brought back memories of Representative Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) shocking interruption during the State of the Union in 2009, when he yelled out “you lie” in objection to then-President Obama's statement that the Democratic Party had no plans to provide health care to undocumented immigrants. Though Wilson’s breach in protocol was considered shocking, he soon apologized and was formally reprimanded by the House.
Though the debate around Biden’s policies is ongoing, it appears that the heckling at the State of the Union may have helped to establish the president as the “adult in the room.” Biden’s speech was effective in showcasing his “retail political skills” and his commitment to addressing the major concerns of all Americans, not just those on the left or the right.
0. “FactChecking the State of the Union” FactCheck.org, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.factcheck.org/2023/02/factchecking-the-state-of-the-union-4/
1. “Marjorie Taylor Greene’s fur coat at the State of the Union sent a message” The Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2023/02/08/marjorie-taylor-greene-coat-state-union/
2. “No One With a Brain Sees the GOP as the ‘Party of Normal'” The Daily Beast, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/no-one-with-a-brain-sees-the-gop-as-the-party-of-normal
3. “How Biden's State of the Union Successfully Baited Congressional Republicans” The Atlantic, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/02/state-union-joe-biden-congress-republicans/672984
4. “GOP divided over whether heckling Biden hurts them” The Hill, 9 Feb. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/3850194-gop-divided-over-whether-heckling-biden-hurts-them
5. “Why Republican heckling of Biden’s State of the Union mattered” MSNBC, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/republican-heckling-bidens-state-union-mattered-rcna69664