The veneer of bipartisan civility didn’t last long tonight at Joe Biden’s second State of the Union address – – and that was alright with the President and Democrats.
Less than an hour into Biden’s speech before members of the House of Representatives and the Senate it all turned into a screaming match after POTUS accused some Republicans of wanting “Medicare and Social Security to sunset.” To a cascade of boos, and as the government faces a potential debt default, the Democrat added, ”I’m not saying it’s a majority …anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.”
At that point, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) screaming “liar” at the President from the rear of the chamber, the annual remarks from the Chief Executive appeared to devolve into chaos and insults, once again. “I’m politely not naming them, but it is being proposed by some of you,” the brazenly combative Biden added as a stern-faced Vice President Kamala Harris and GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy sat behind him.
However, with the Republicans outburst, Biden was also once again blessed by his enemies.
With reports that Speaker McCarthy, who needed 15 ballots in the House to clinched his job amidst a wafer thin GOP majority, had chastised his fellow Republicans to be on their best behavior tonight, the yelling and taunts allowed Biden to turn the exchange to his advantage. The affront to POTUS put the GOP’s unspoken aims into the televised spotlight with millions of Americans tuning in on cable and broadcast TV, and online.
Going off his prepared remarks and openly engaging with the critics in front of him, Biden chided the Republicans and flipped their script. “As we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now,” POTUS gleefully said after Republicans bellowed “you lie, you lie and shook their heads. “We got unanimity.”
McCarthy could be seen trying to get his caucus members to quiet down — to little success.
“If anyone tries to cut Social Security, which apparently no one is going to do, and if anyone tries to cut Medicare, I will stop them,” Biden said, with a swipe at GOP budget schemes.
Speaker McCarthy may had spent the majority of tonight’s SOTU in his seat, but he knew with the cameras on him and Biden’s allegations on the table, he couldn’t keep it up.
“Let’s stand up for seniors,” Biden added, as McCarthy, MTG, and many Republicans got to their feet in a bipartisan display. “Apparently, it’s not going to be a problem,” the reelection seeking POTUS went on to say with a winning smile on his face in the Congressional squirmish — -at least this round.
Of course, this being the deeply divided government it is with the MAGA dominated GOP in charge in the House and Democrats ruling the White House and Senate, there were more verbal flare-ups in the more than one hour speech when Biden mentioned the the topics of Abortion rights and the fatal scourge of the synthetic opioid Fentanyl.
In what was once a fairly gentile affair, the SOTU began to turn ugly back over a decade ago and never looked back.
In 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) hurled a “you lie” at President Barack Obama when the 44th POPTUS insisted that his then proposed health care plan wouldn’t cover undocumented immigrants. Though Wilson apologized and was censured, since then the annual address to Congress and the American people has seen opposition parties heckle Obama, Donald Trump and Biden. During last year’s SOTU, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo), who was shaking her head tonight over Biden’s budget battle remarks, screamed out at POTUS over American soldiers who had died on his watch at that point. Later Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene chanted ““build the wall!” as Biden talked about his immigration proposals.
That night Biden didn’t seem to enjoy the disparagement as much as he obviously did tonight — but back in 2021 he hadn’t obviously laid out the bait and the GOP members didn’t take it.
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