At the State of the Union, the Republicans showed who they really are – and that wasn’t pretty

Like most State of the Union speeches, this one stood out not for its content, but for the drama unleashed on the margins. It started with a CNN report of Mitt Romney going to George Santos in the room and telling him, “You don’t belong here,” and ended with Marjorie Taylor Greene interfering while dressed as Cruella de Vil.

But let’s rewind. Al Weaver, a reporter with The hill covering the senate, asked Romney for confirmation if he had called Santos “a disgrace” and got the response, “I don’t know the exact words I said. He shouldn’t have been there. Look, he’s a sick puppy. He shouldn’t have been there.” Romney clearly hadn’t gotten the memo that you shouldn’t report sick puppies around George Santos (for anyone who hasn’t been following the latest news about Congress’s most fascinating liar, one of the many, many allegations that have been made recently). have been leveled against Santos, one is that he stole $3,000 from a GoFundMe that was meant for a veteran’s ailing dog, On the other hand, Santos has never admitted to those accusations — while Romney himself once easily admitted to tethering the family dog ​​to the trunk of his car before driving on the highway for six hours.)

And while I don’t want this to be all about Santos, it seems fair to add that the poor guy jumped to his feet to cheer Biden’s insulin announcement before looking around and noting that none of his fellow Republicans were doing the same , and slowly sit down again. This would be an embarrassing moment for anyone else, but it won’t even register on the Santos radar. In fact, it’s not even the most embarrassing thing he’s done tonight. Santos brought a 9/11 firefighter to the SOTU as his guests, perhaps in an attempt to repair his reputation or legitimize some of his wilder claims. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect, reminding everyone that Romney’s “sick puppy” kept claiming his mother died in 9/11 on the campaign trail, before journalists started digging through obituaries and whereabouts and discovered that his mother actually died of cancer 15 years after 9/11, in Brazil, not living in the US since the 1990s.

Santos’ brazen presence underscores exactly why other Republican politicians are struggling. On Tuesday night, Kevin McCarthy went out of his way to look like a representative of a normal party. When Biden opened his speech by congratulating him on his new position as Speaker of the House and jovially saying, “Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” McCarthy smiled back and applauded. . When Biden said most cops are good cops who just want to come home to their families, McCarthy got back on his feet. And when Marjorie Taylor Greene yelled, “Liar!” to the president as he spoke, the look on McCarthy’s face could only be described as long-suffering.

The GOP has only just recaptured the house. They are expected to take the Senate after the next election. It will be better. Meanwhile, Donald Trump — the favorite to win the 2024 Republican nomination — spent State of the Union Day unleashing a vicious new assault on Ron Desantis. And then Taylor Greene appeared, dressed in a fur coat, after dancing through Congress with a white balloon for the past few hours.

But despite everything, Biden tried to kill them with kindness. He even gave Mitch McConnell a shout-out in his opening words. Everyone knows Joe and Mitch are really friends when they’re not performing in front of the cameras. But for the cameras, they have to perform this routine: Joe tries to catch up with him, and Mitch pretends his dad just showed up at the end of prom and yells if he needs a ride home. “Where are you, Mitch?” Biden said, and everyone stood up to applaud Mitch’s long service in Congress, and Mitch remained frozen in his seat.

“We are often told that Democrats and Republicans cannot work together,” Biden continued, undeterred. “Over the past two years, we’ve proven the cynics wrong.” But have we? In a sense, the evidence is there: 300 pieces of legislation successfully signed; some truly transformative deals. But in another, it’s hard to ignore that much of the GOP has gone off the deep end. A male voice from the Republican side of the room began to yell, “It’s your fault!” when Biden held an impassioned aside about parents who lost their children to fentanyl. It was indecent to say the least.

How does Biden work with these fringe members, some of whom seem to genuinely believe that the US government is run by a mysterious presence called Q? Republicans like to shout about culture wars and commies, but the evidence of who is actually a threat to Democratic standards was right there in the room Tuesday night. Bernie Sanders, a dangerous communist for any right winger in the GOP, was the only person to wear an N95 mask and casually spent his time cleaning his goggles. Elizabeth Warren’s most notable moment was when she jumped to her feet and blasted companies that pay zero percent taxes. It’s hardly the Bolshevik Revolution, is it?

Elsewhere, Biden outlined the usual things: cancer will be cured, Covid is on the wane, infrastructure needs to be fixed, police need to be held accountable, Xi Jinping should be scared, because “it’s never been a good bet to play against America.” betting” (which elicited chants of, “USA! USA!”) Raphael Warnock was the only man in the room wearing a suit that fit him, brilliant in gray. Like it or not, Kyrsten Sinema stole the show for the women, dressed as she was in a stiff yellow statement-making-possibly-dress-or-possibly-something-else-indescribable.

Biden packed. He stated that the State of the Union was “strong” because of course the spirit of America is strong. He yelled a few times about “WE ARE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, at one point even pointing his finger. And then it was over and we were left with the same two parties we entered the room with. For all his talk of bipartisanship, it’s still unclear whether Biden can turn these opportunities into something useful. At least it looks like Kevin feels the pain too.

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