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.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier Booed at Swearing In  Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. participates in a mock swearing in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Apr. 10, 2008. Speier, a former state lawmaker, replaces the late Rep. Tom Lantos, who died in February of cancer of the esophagus. (AP Photo/Brendan Hoffman) ( Brendan Hoffman ) 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.

via Memeorandum

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. C.Wagener says:

    Hillsborough. You can get a nice fixer-upper there for about $10,000,000. Just an FYI for those not familiar with the bay area.

  2. Anderson says:

    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.

    JJ, I don’t recall ever having thought that you’re full of it, but here, you’re full of it. Sorry ’bout that.

    Doesn’t matter HOW inappropriate it was for her to … er, um … actually express the views of the people who sent her to Washington? As their REPRESENTATIVE?

    Anyway, doesn’t matter. They booed her at her freakin’ swearing-in ceremony. Didn’t just criticize her afterwards … they BOOED her. In front of her family.

    The Republicans who did so are sorry little bastards, who I hope will be finding other work after this November.

  3. James Joyner says:

    They booed her at her freakin’ swearing-in ceremony.

    Exactly.

    This wasn’t a debate on a bill. It was supposed to be a friendly gathering where colleagues welcomed her in a spirit of bipartisan comity.
    She turned it into an uncomfortable, partisan event. That was unseemly.

    I agree that booing isn’t sporting, either, but it was out of disgust for the inappropriateness of her actions.

  4. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    She did not turn it into a “partisan” event. A Republican National Committee fundraiser is a partisan event. Giving an address on the floor of the House on the nation’s most important topic is most definitely _not_ partisan.

    Personally I think she was firing a shot over the bow of Pelosi, who has stubbornly refused to even approach the subject of ending the war, despite representing a San Francisco congressional district which is utterly opposed to that war. Speier’s district is neighboring to Pelosi’s.

  5. davod says:

    As I recall, the Demonrats are good at being innapropriate, taking every opportunity to be political.

    I recall the non-partisan funeral during the election which was turned into a Democratic campaign rally.

    Then their was the recent memorial to Tom Lantos where the Dem leadership tried to conduct business while the memorial was in progress.

    Yet we have commentators complaining about the Republicans booing the Congressman.

  6. Grewgills says:

    I recall the non-partisan funeral during the election which was turned into a Democratic campaign rally.

    I watched the footage of the Wellstone funeral and it was not as you characterize it. Did you see anything other than snippets pulled out of context and right wing spin?

  7. JohnG says:

    If it’s her right and duty to express her views, then certainly isn’t it the right and duty of other representatives to express their views as well? Why does it feel low class when someone gets booed at their swearing in? Because it’s not appropriate to boo someone on an occasion like that, right? Well then why is it appropriate to make decisive comments in a situation where the opposition is expected to stand there and applaud?

    If you want to debate about something, then don’t do it when the other side is supposed to be compelled not to respond.

  8. floyd says:

    Wellstone was a Democrat? Wow! And I thought sure he was a communist. Whaddayaknow?? Well, anyway he’s a Statesman now![lol]

  9. tom p says:

    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.

    “Not the time or place”…

    Ya know James, I remember an evening about five years ago, I was sitting in a pizza joint with about 40 friends, and “W” appeared on the TV screen to say we had just begun bombing Iraq. It got very quiet.

    Than somebody said, “God bless America!”

    My initial impulse was to say “Allah Akbar!!”… but instead I said, “F*** Bush.” Immediately, somebody on the other side of the bar jumped up and said, “WHO SAID THAT??? I’M GONNA KICK THEIR ASS!!!”

    At which point I jumped up and said, “I did! I have 2 sons who could end up there! What do you have?”

    He turned and walked out the door.

    Afterwards, I heard many comments, but the one that stuck in my craw the most was, “Tom, this is neither the time nor the place.” and I wanted to scream, “WHEN IS THE TIME AND THE PLACE????”

    My answer is, the time and the place is when you will be heard, which is not the same as when you will be listened to. I spoke out loudly and oftly before the invasion, and neither my democratic nor republican senator listened to me. Neither did anyone else. (big surprise, eh?)(it was going to be a cake walk and Iraqi oil was going to pay for it all, ritght?)

    My point is this: If I can deal with almost getting my assed kick (he was a whole lot bigger than I) than Jackie Speier can deal with a few “boos”. We are all big boys and girls.

    Now IS the time and the place. Speak.

    tom

  10. Hal says:

    James, you’re either being completely disingenuous or being completely clueless.

    The polling trends are quite clear, and provide you with absolutely no evidence that Iraq is “the most divisive issue in American politics.” Indeed, the polling data we have shows precisely the opposite – i.e. that the American people have come to a commonly held conclusion regarding Iraq. Rather than being horribly divided on the issue, the evidence clearly shows the America is united in their opinion of Iraq.

    Considering your wife is in the business, it would certainly help bolster the central claim of your criticism of Speier if you could provide a shred of evidence that the American people are bitterly divided regarding Iraq. Again, all the evidence points to precisely the opposite conclusion.

  11. C.Wagener says:

    Grewgills,

    Whaaaaat???

    When Trent Lott and Rod Grams were shown on a screen at the memorial service they were booed. AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE. Rick Kahn told the crowd “we are begging you to win this senate election for Paul Wellstone”. Kahn asked the Republicans to withdrawal their candidate.

  12. Jim says:

    I thought dissent was the highest form of patriotism……

  13. James Joyner says:

    it would certainly help bolster the central claim of your criticism of Speier if you could provide a shred of evidence that the American people are bitterly divided regarding Iraq.

    It’s controversial that the American people are divided in a bitter fashion? I’m not claiming that they’re evenly divided but that they’re bitterly divided.

    The issue was divisive during the run-up, Bush ultimately built a bipartisan consensus in Congress, and the war was quite popular when it was going well. It has slowly gotten less popular — with a handful of spikes during good news — and has been quite unpopular in the last couple of years. At each of those points, though, the dispute was incredibly bitter.

    Perhaps other issues are more divisive. Abortion and immigration come to mind. But they tend to be privately held positions rather than those that provoke outbursts in bars and restaurants.

  14. just me says:

    I watched the footage of the Wellstone funeral and it was not as you characterize it. Did you see anything other than snippets pulled out of context and right wing spin?

    I watched the whole thing from beginning to end, and thought it was appalling. It essentially turned a funeral into a political rally. GOP representatives were booed.

    That moment was not a shining one for democrats.

  15. Hal says:

    I’m not claiming that they’re evenly divided but that they’re bitterly divided.

    Well just because there’s a very vocal minority who’s offended doesn’t mean they get to control the agenda and discourse, does it? It seems as if you’re saying that we should all be Politically Correct, simply because some made something a very divisive issue for the rest of us.

    To “just me”:

    That moment was not a shining one for democrats.

    At least we didn’t authorize war crimes at the highest levels of this government, fight a preemptive war against a country that didn’t threaten us and complete f*ck up an occupation which has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and is going to cost about 3-4 trillion dollars.

    But hey, booing the GOP is serious stuff.

  16. Richard Jacobs says:

    And pray, just when would be the proper time to speak out against one of the worst mistakes ever made by this country?

    Get over yourself. We need more representatives in Congress to speak out repeatedly and often to end the occupation of Iraq before it destroys both countries.

  17. John B. says:

    There is no wrong time or place to speak out about the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history.