By Eleanor Fletcher- International Affairs Editor
On the 1st of March 2022, President Biden gave his inaugural State of the Union Address. This speech made history in numerous ways. Firstly, for the first time in the history of the United States of America two women sat behind the President. Both the Vice President, Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi sat behind the President as he spoke.
The State of the Union Address is a speech made by the President of the United States to a joint session of Congress. The address is a constitutional requirement and the President attends following an invitation by the Speaker of the House. The speech has been televised since 1965 and is where the President lays out his plans for the next year.
For the first time in a long time Congress looked unified. Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine many members of Congress wore gold and blue and when it was announced that one of the guests of the First Lady, Jill Biden, was the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States she received a standing ovation. This is a clear contrast to previous years where one side of the political spectrum would often remain silent whilst the other cheered on the President (which party varied based on who the President was).
A moment of partisanship was also apparent however, when Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert made a comment regarding the thirteen servicemen and women killed on August 26th, 2021, in Kabul. Her comments came as President Biden talked about service members who became sickened following exposure to burn pits. As Biden stated ‘and they come home, many of the fittest and best-trained warriors in the world, never the same. Headaches, numbness, dizziness, a cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin’ Boebert shouted out ‘you put them there-13 of them’. This angered many Democrats because President Biden was talking about his own son Beau Biden who died from brain cancer in 2015 after serving time in the military. Many have called out Boebert for her insensitivity whilst others have also been quick to point out that Biden’s comments also have personal relations to the Republican Party because the 2008 Republican Party Presidential nominee, John McCain, died from the same cancer in 2018 (also served in the military).
However, Boebert is not the first to speak out of turn during the State of the Union. In 2009 Republican Senator shouted out ‘you lie’ to then President Barack Obama as he was speaking on immigration. Also in 2020 gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter in the 2017 Parkland shooting, was escorted out and later detained after yelling out during President Trump’s State of the Union.
Overall, despite the interruption many deemed Biden’s State of the Union Address strong and his approval rating has risen with forty-five percent of registered voters thinking he is doing a good job as President. The question remains: can Joe Biden continue this trend or will his approval rating begin to dip?