CMR's Heckling Glee
Peas in a pod?
Last Tuesday I watched CNN’s streaming coverage of President Biden’s first State of the Union address. As CNN’s camera panned the crowd I searched in vain for “our” representative to Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (CD-5, eastern Washington).
As Biden spoke of cancer-producing toxic exposures of our troops it was clear to anyone paying attention that he was leading to a reference to his son Beau. Beau died in 2015 at age 46 of brain cancer years after just such toxic exposure as he served in our military in Iraq. Just after the words “a cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know [pause]” a woman’s voice from the crowd was heard shouting, “You put them there! Thirteen of them.” The crowd responded with booing. To those not present in the chamber it unclear at whom the booing was directed. (The incident can be reviewed just past the middle of this video.) During the booing the camera showed Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) looking pained.
The next day the origin of the heckling voice and, apparently, the target of the disapproving booing were made clear: Marjorie Taylor Greene and former gym rat Lauren Boebert had been heckling the President a little less audibly from the Republican side of the floor during the entire speech, their idea of a fund-raising spectacle for themselves and the Republican Party. Shameful.
McMorris Rodgers’ official reaction to the State of the Union speech was, as one might expect, the Republican talking points: blame President Biden for weakening the U.S., essentially accusing him of inviting Putin to invade Ukraine (recent coziness of CMR’s “positive disruptor” with Putin notwithstanding) and call for casting off all caution and regulation of the domestic fossil fuel industry.
Where was McMorris Rodgers that evening? How was she reacting in real time to the speech and to the heckling? The answer appeared the next morning in the Getty image posted below. There we see our Mrs. Milquetoast smiling her toothy grin as Boebert and Greene engage in their heckling. To be fair, KXLY reported, in CMR’s defense, that at the moment depicted Boebert and Greene were shouting “Build the Wall”. Perhaps at the moment that Boebert screamed her interjection about coffins, CMR disapproved, but, given the glee on her face in this photo, we ought not bet on it. A photographic impression is hard to erase—and this one should go down in history.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. If you glance at the right wing “news” outlets you will find them equating Boebert’s and Greene’s heckling and interruptions of the Biden’s speech to Nancy Pelosi act in 2020. Then, after listening to the most divisive State of the Union speech in living memory, she silently tore up the paper copy of Trump’s speech while standing on the dais behind Trump’s left ear. Pelosi later said it was “the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative." I agree. Making a silent action of disapproval is very different from trying to rattle a speaker by heckling. Republican spokespeople have latched on to a false equivalence.