- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Republicans’ taunts of President Biden with shouts of “liar” and other back-and-forth exchanges during the State of the Union address Tuesday were the latest in what has become increasingly common heckling during the annual prime-time political exercise.

When Mr. Biden lamented the rising number of Americans dying from fentanyl overdoses, a Republican lawmaker shouted, “It’s your fault!” Other Republicans called out “Border!” They were referring to what they say are the administration’s lax border security policies that allow smugglers to bring the deadly drug into the U.S.

In one of several spirited back-and-forth exchanges with the Democratic president, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, and others called out “liar” when Mr. Biden accused some Republicans of trying to cut entitlement benefits.

Ms. Greene said the president had it coming and that many of her constituents praised her actions.

“He got exactly what he deserved, and I am not sorry one bit, and I don’t think Speaker McCarthy is upset with any of us for expressing our views and [being] unwilling to allow the president to lie,” Ms. Greene told CNN. “What am I going to do? Stand up and give golf claps? No, thank you. I don’t clap for liars. I got so many messages [of support] from people in my district and people across the country, it was like I won my election again. You know what? People are pissed off.”

Rep. Andrew Ogles, Tennessee Republican, also defended his interruption of the president.

SEE ALSO: Biden boasts of spending, asks GOP to back agenda

“For him to tell us with a straight face and tell us he has a solution when with a stroke of a pen, he could have shut down that border and saved thousands and thousands of lives, but he didn’t have the courage to do it,” Mr. Ogles told reporters. “That offends me as someone who has worked in that space and worked on the southern border.”

Mr. McCarthy, who had promised decorum at the speech, couldn’t help shaking his head and mouthing “no” at some of the president’s most partisan passages.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the heckling underscores the differences between the two parties. She said viewers saw the president focus on “delivering on key issues.”

“If you talk about a split screen, you saw that from the president and you saw what the Republicans were all about, which was jeering and, you know, behaving in a way that Americans don’t want,” she said.

Some other high-profile flareups during past State of the Union addresses are:

• In 2022, Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, heckled Mr. Biden about the U.S. service members killed during the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Mr. Biden was speaking about veterans exposed to “toxic burn pits” that could cause cancer and might “put them in a flag-draped coffin.”

SEE ALSO: Pelosi says GOP heckling of Biden amounted to ‘showbiz’

“You put them in, 13 of them,” Ms. Boebert called out. She was referring to the service members killed in a terrorist attack during the evacuation mission at the airport in Kabul. She and Ms. Greene also started a chant of “Build the wall” when Mr. Biden spoke about the border.

• In 2020, Democratic Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey walked out of President Trump’s speech. At least 10 other House Democrats boycotted the address. Ms. Tlaib later described Mr. Trump’s speech as “beneath the dignity of the office.”

• Also in 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, made a grand show on camera of ripping in half, page by page, a paper copy of Mr. Trump’s speech immediately after he finished his remarks. Asked by a reporter what she thought of the address, Mrs. Pelosi said, “I tore it up.”

During the same speech, Mrs. Pelosi applauded Mr. Trump mockingly with outstretched arms when he proposed rejecting the “politics of revenge” just days after his first impeachment. Her gesture earned her the label of “the queen of condescending applause.”

• Again in 2020, Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter was killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, yelled out from the public gallery after Mr. Trump defended gun rights. He was removed by a plainclothes police officer.

• In 2010, Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. mouthed the words “not true” when President Obama decried the court’s Citizens United ruling regarding federal campaign finance rules. The president said the decision “reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

• In 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, shouted “You lie” at Mr. Obama when the president said Obamacare coverage “would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

At the time, such an outburst was considered so rare that it stirred talk of disciplining Mr. Wilson. He was in the chamber Tuesday night for Mr. Biden‘s address.

Jeff Mordock contributed to this story.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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