President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on March 7, 2024. Looking on are Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). (Kenny Holston/The New York Times)

March 8, 2024

EDITORIAL | Childish Antics Backfire on Republicans

Print More

As early as kindergarten, kids generally learn to not talk out of turn. Republicans — especially Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — must’ve never taken a lesson.

How did sporting bright red campaign merch and hurling insults at the commander-in-chief during his State of the Union address become the new normal? Republican politicians continue to break norms by trampling on tradition and the rules of common decency, but their gamble isn’t paying off. 

The aging president doesn’t speak with the energy he did during his days in the Senate, but when the going got tough, the elder statesman showed that he still has it: He hurled ad-libs right back. He frequently went off-script, turning interruptions from the audience into important talking points. In the face of all the bluff and bluster from his hecklers, Biden kept his poise, sloughing off attacks and speaking directly to voters on the issues that matter, from NATO and gun control to the humanitarian crisis along the border. 

The State of the Union address has, in recent years, devolved into something of a circus of intense partisanship, but last night particularly veered into political mayhem for a Republican party fractured by childish infighting and unworkable egos. 

On Wednesday, in preparation for a series of GOP tantrums, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) urged his fellow lawmakers to show decorum at the State of the Union. The rationale? Republican heckles would only bolster the president’s case for himself as an alternative to insanity. The call for restraint was an unusually politically savvy example of foresight from the puppet speaker, who, as it turned out, would have little sway over his party anyway. 

Since the 2016 election, the GOP has transformed from a political party into a cult that wouldn’t accept the result of a fair election. The madness on display can’t be ignored  — the corruption, the internal disorganization, the loud-and-proud fascism. It needs to be called out for what it is: dangerous. It felt inspiring to see a president who can hit back at the mob rather than egg it on. 

After all, it takes a leader to set an example from the top down. Biden proved that while he may be old, he shouldn’t be counted out. “I know it may not look like it,” Biden addressed the audience. “But I’ve been around a while.” A seasoned, veteran politician, Biden isn’t shaken by a MAGA-hat-toting congresswoman or a Gold Star parent removed from the chamber balcony.

It’s not that the president doesn’t have shortcomings. Old age, border chaos and an unfinished economic recovery deserve to be called out in the right forum. But Republican behavior during the State of the Union wasn’t reasoned criticism — it was childlike disruption.  

Respect for the presidency is something all patriots should hold in common. Without respect among branches, the government will slip further into its tailspin of gridlock and turmoil. As President Biden stated last night, “you can’t love your country only when you win.” Unless the Republican party shores up its political gaps before the 2024 general election, they face an uphill battle in the months ahead. 

Love your country. Whiffing shots at the President doesn’t help your case.

Henry Schechter is the Opinion Editor for The Cornell Daily Sun’s Editorial Board. The Cornell Daily Sun’s Editorial Board is a collaborative team composed of the Editor in Chief, Associate Editor and Opinion Editor. The Editorial Board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by personal expertise, research and debate to represent The Cornell Daily Sun’s long standing values. The Cornell Daily Sun’s editorials are independent of its news coverage, other columnists and advertisers.

The Cornell Daily Sun is interested in publishing a broad and diverse set of content from the Cornell and greater Ithaca community. We want to hear what you have to say about this topic or any of our pieces. Here are some guidelines on how to submit. And here’s our email: [email protected].