Congresswoman Jackie Speier Booed at Swearing In
Jackie Speier, who was sworn in yesterday after a special election to replace the late Tom Lantos, was booed after she turned her introductory speech into a tirade against the war in Iraq.
For a few feel-good moments on the floor of the U.S. House today, Jackie Speier basked in bipartisan applause as she was sworn in as its newest member. Her family, supporters and kids cheered as she embraced her new colleagues.
Then, in her first speech in Congress, Speier spoke out about Iraq, and the boos and hoots began from the Republican side of the aisle.
“When will we get out of Iraq?” was the most frequent question she heard, she told the House, while campaigning in the special election she won Tuesday to succeed the late Rep. Tom Lantos. “The process to bring the troops home must begin immediately,” she said, as several Republicans loudly booed. Rep. Darrell Issa, a Vista Republican, bolted from his seat and left the floor. The hoots grew in volume as Speier, a Hillsborough Democrat, continued. “The president wants to stay the course and a man who wants to replace him suggests we could be in Iraq for 100 years,” she said, a reference to Republican John McCain’s assertion that U.S. forces could be there decades, if they are not under attack.
“The House is not in order,” shouted Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Some Democrats applauded. Speaker Nancy Pelosi banged her gavel. “Why are they booing my mother?” Speier’s middle-school daughter Stephanie asked, according to a staffer.
Speier’s first day in Congress had begun – 29 years after she first ran for the seat. “I didn’t expect that sort of reaction, but I’m not a newbie here,” Speier, a congressional staffer in the 1970s, said in an interview after the swearing-in. “There’s a lot of polarization. I heard the boos. I think it’s counter-productive to getting things done.”
So is turning a friendly welcoming ceremony into a platform for speaking out on the most divisive issue in American politics. It’s her right, even her duty, to express her views — and those of her constituents — on the war. This wasn’t the time or the place.
I’m not a fan of booing in these circumstances, either. But I understand the sentiment.