Biden at 2023 State of the Union | Photo via

Editor’s Note:  This column was published Feb. 10 following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.  Even though it’s 10 days old, we think it’s important for South Carolina legislators and Statehouse regulars to keep civility alive in Columbia. Remember — all of this modern-day heckling got started when U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., yelled “liar” at President Barack Obama during an address.

Discourteous people bother me…seriously. It doesn’t matter who, when or where someone shows bad manners, it’s telling…about that person.


Yes, we were shocked at the lack of civility Tuesday night (Feb. 7) when the president of the United States was heckled by many Republicans during the State of the Union address.  

No matter who is the president, no matter the party, no matter the time in our history, those in Congress should at least pay respect to the office of the president itself. Any president of the United States should be shown this common courtesy, no matter who he is now or was. Yes, the Congress was courteous to a now-deposed president, Richard Nixon. And when addressing the Congress, Donald Trump did not hear the Senators or Congress members trying to shout him down.

What these resentful Republicans showed was a lack of civility. It was wrong, rude, and far uncalled for. Not only that, these GOP members were showing a lack of good manners in front of the entire nation and the world, watching on television. Sadly, these catcalls were led by a Georgia Congresswoman, that Marjorie Taylor Greene person.

Have the people who are supposed to guide our United States, those elected to the Congress, now stooped so low that they cannot calmly sit and listen to the concerns of the president addressing the nation? The halls of Congress are not like that of the British parliament, where debate among its members often draws hoots and slurs from the opposite party. American debate has traditionally been civil.

Debate in Congress today has unusually fallen to dangerous levels of pure partisanship, to the detriment of our country. Both minds of members of both parties seem to be well made up in advance, so that the debate means nothing more than posturing for the audience of their constituents. Weighing the remarks of debaters in Congress seems to be a lost art.  

In effect, “You can‘t argue with me. My mind is made up.” That is too often true.

In reality, watching the heckling makes a person wonder about the parents of those GOP members more intent on shouting down the president. Their parents, raised to be courteous, would be ashamed of them. It’s sad, and scores heavily on the upbringing and background of what is supposed to be learned and polite gentlemen (and women)!  

Do the Democrats heckle a president? We have no record of it. But we have not remembered news reports of such heckling and jeering of the president of the United States before, except for one Republican who shouted at President Obama during a State of the Union address.

Do Congressmen have a difference of opinion from the president? That is common in Congress and expected from people with different views. How can these discourteous Republicans ever think they are leaders if they are so disposed that they cannot listen with good manners? Can’t they simply show their differences by sitting there quietly, perhaps without clapping, when the president gives the State of the Union address? 

Feb. 7 was a rude and sad night at the Congress. It was not the best face of the United States when people are so closed-minded that they resort to such bad manners. It was not the finest night for Republicans, who most decidedly embarrassed themselves…but many of them do not even realize it. Meanwhile, let’s offer prayers for them, also for the Democrats, and for our country.

Veteran Georgia columnist Elliott Brack is editor and publisher of GwinnettForum, where this first appeared. Have a comment? Send to:

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