Behaving badly: Parkland’s Fred Guttenberg kicked out of SOTU address


The fall-out from this year’s State of the Union address continues. Divisions are deep and entrenched, to understate the atmosphere on Capitol Hill. Traditions and decorum are long gone.

One incident from Tuesday night’s event that has not made many headlines is that one of Speaker Pelosi’s guests was escorted out of the room because of his behavior. Longtime Democrat activist Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was murdered in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, yelled at President Trump during his address. This happened as Trump spoke about protecting the Second Amendment and gun rights. He was escorted out of the Speaker’s Box by a plainclothes police officer.

Guttenberg has now apologized on Twitter. He first explained his excuses for the outburst and then apologized for the bad behavior.

He’s right – he didn’t conduct himself with dignity but this outburst was just more of the same bad behavior that was on display that night. It remains to be seen if a lack of decorum is now the new normal or if the pendulum will slowly swing back. The Republicans chanted “Four more years”, and Democrats chanted about prescription drug prices or something. The Democrat women dressed in white because the bad Orange Man is a sexist pig and a couple of The Squad sisters gloated on Twitter that they got up and walked out. Apparently, they are too delicate to do their jobs, which that night was to go and represent their districts as the president delivered the State of the Union address. What is lost in all of this is that these events are not about one particular politician. They are about the American people and our country.

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The State of the Union is a political event, but it’s gotten much worse during the Trump administration. In the case of Guttenberg, he was sitting in a special spot. He was the invited guest of the Speaker of the House. He is well-known to her (and all Democrats) and she had to have known of his past behavior. Remember when he caused a stir during the Kavanaugh hearings? He complained that Judge Kavanaugh refused to shake his extended hand during a break, yet the truth was that Kavanaugh had not seen him do that. Guttenberg looks to create headlines and does. The State of the Union is not the place for aggressive activism, that is better left for campaign rallies and town hall meetings.

Speaker Pelosi is dealing with the fall-out of the address, now on her second day of talking after the event. She is still answering for her behavior during the event. She muttered to herself out loud, she made faces, she sat on her hands even while good news for all Americans was delivered, and she ripped up her copy of the address at the end of President Trump’s presentation. She is now overreaching again as she trashes President Trump’s speech. She criticized some of the guests that were presented during the speech, which is odd enough, but she also is upset that Trump presented Rush Limbaugh with the Medal of Freedom during the address. “Do it in your own office,” she said during a press conference on Thursday morning. Wow. Imagine being so Trump-deranged that the Speaker of the House complains about awarding a man with such an honor during the State of the Union, simply as it was an unprecedented move. Did she complain when Obama left a seat unoccupied to represent gun violence? How about when Obama chastised the Supreme Court Justices sitting in front of him? No, she did not.

Pelosi’s behavior is devolving right along with everyone’s. She, however, is failing miserably when she holds herself out as a bridge-builder. She even used the term “manifesto of mistruths” to describe the State of the Union address. And, she tossed in a mention of Charlottesville for good measure. It’s a bit much for her to hold herself out as an example of good behavior as she tries to own President Trump and Republicans. She trashes Trump for holding up a newspaper headline about his acquittal yet she then says “You are impeached forever. You will always carry around that scar.” She didn’t bother to mention that the other side of that coin is that acquittal is forever, too.

This is why so many people just tune out. It is also why President Trump will be re-elected. Speaker Pelosi has come to that realization and is not handling it well. If everything – especially the economy – holds as it is today, it is hard to imagine a different scenario on Election Day. Pelosi’s bitterness had gotten the better of her. She invited an activist to the event knowing of his history of bad behavior. She knows that Trump is a straight-shooter. Trump didn’t mention the impeachment yet he didn’t need to do that – he’s able to induce Democrats to behave just as badly as they accuse Trump of doing. All the polling shows that Trump won the impeachment battle with the American public. That’s his best revenge of all – until Election Day 2020.

I’ll end with a tweet from Stephanie Grisham, the White House Press Secretary.

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