Speaker of the U.S. House Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday joined a chorus of Republicans who either called it unwise or outright criticized fellow members for heckling President Biden during Tuesday’s State of the Union speech.
The heckling reached a crescendo during Biden’s discussion of Social Security and Medicare, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) shouting “liar” at the president multiple times. Biden, who had claimed some Republicans wanted to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare, responded by joking he had instantly converted Republicans to his side.
“We need to be smart,” McCarthy told Fox News. “Don’t take the bait.”
Other Republicans were more direct about the heckling.
“You should never do that sort of stuff,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif). “When he did come out and say the bit about we’re trying to cut Social Security, that drew a round of boos, and I thought that was pretty fair. But the catcalling I didn’t really like. I understand the frustration, but it really isn’t how – in order to conduct the business of the institution – how we should do it.”
Former Trump advisor John Bolton also was critical, saying some members of Congress “are performance artists, and they can’t help it.”
“Marjorie Taylor Greene is now the face of the Republican Party, and it’s a mistake,” Bolton told NBC.
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said, “This is not the House of Parliament. I wish there were more decorum, but it seems like we just keep going further downhill every State of the Union.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who often votes with Republicans on hot-button cultural issues, also was critical.
“That’s just not acceptable in the type of country we are and the leader of the free world,” Manchin said. “Might be accepted in a Third World country. But not here.”
GOP pollster Frank Luntz said the heckling made the State of the Union look like a “high school assembly.”
“It is wrong for elected officials to act that way,” Luntz said, adding that Republicans already had a time of response with Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “... I am an advocate for civility. I am an advocate for respect. I am an advocate for us not destroying ourselves and tearing each other apart. … [And] it happens on both sides.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.