Etiquette Tips for Lauren Boebert at the 2023 State of the Union

Lauren Boebert, who totally knew that and was just seeing if you did, duhhh.
Lauren Boebert, who totally knew that and was just seeing if you did, duhhh. YouTube
At the last State of the Union, Representative Lauren Boebert singled herself out with some less-than-stateswoman-like behavior when President Joe Biden was in the middle of a statement of support for U.S. veterans with cancer diagnoses directly linked to “burn pits” in the wars in the Middle East, “a cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin," he intoned. “I know…”

“You put them in!” Boebert interrupted with a screech. “Thirteen of them!” Her outburst was met with audible gasps and general shock and chastisement from the chamber, including vocal boos (though the folks at NewsMax might have suggested that people were simply chanting "Boo-bert! Boo-bert!").

Biden chose to just finish his thought, adding “…because one of those soldiers was my son.”

The Hill called Boebert's interruption “an extraordinary breach of decorum.” CNN reported that “Lauren Boebert hits a new low — even for her.” FoxNews just called her a “firebrand,” far-right code for “an asshole we agree with.”

Before the president returns to the podium on February 7 for his next State of the Union, we thought it might be helpful to offer some tips on how Boebert should conduct herself at ceremonies of national importance such as this one. As the late, great journalist Sydney J. Harris said, “The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”

Here’s hoping that Lauren Boebert can stop admiring herself in her mirror long enough to learn something from these suggestions:
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Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene as mean girls.
Know Your Job Well Enough to Know You’re Invited
In 2022, Boebert revealed in a FoxNews interview that she was unaware that she was even invited to the State of the Union address, as all 535 members of the House and Senate traditionally are. To be fair, she was pretty busy making fun of her colleagues for wearing masks to protect both themselves and others from COVID. This was based on old information, which had originally suggested the limits on attendance might be necessary for safety in gathering, even at important political events — something former president Donald Trump proved in helping to shove Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court by holding a massive and maskless Rose Garden celebration, which moved it from callow political stunt to superspreader event. Still, part of being in Congress is, you know, paying attention.

Don't Sit Next to Marjorie Taylor Greene

It's the old aphorism in action: if you lie down with dogs, you're gonna get up with fleas. Likewise, Representative Boebert, if you stand next to Marjorie Taylor Greene, some of her aura of maniacal stupid will shine its hateful and incoherent light upon you. You've gone on record as wanting to separate yourself from her, anyway — so separate. And also stop sounding exactly alike. 
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Dress for excess.
Don't Wear Something Obnoxious
Again, appearances count for something, especially if you're wearing the political equivalent of a homemade T that a middle-school kid might craft for Spirit Week. Yes, we all saw the purposeful vulgarity of "Let's Go Brandon" on your ass when you met with Trump. And yes, Fox at least commented on your black silk shawl from the last SOTU, the one that said "Drill Baby Drill." Tragic lack of punctuation aside, the message was muddy. Why did it look like a shroud? Was that part of the messaging? And given your husband Jayson's too-close ties to the drilling industry, do you really want to wear its lobbying message on your back? Just dress nicely. Respectfully. You don't have to wear your partisanship on your literal sleeve.

Understand That the State of the Union Isn't a Rally
There's a time and place for peaceful protest, and the sanctity of a presidential address to Congress and the whole of the American public isn't it. Chanting "Build the wall" while the President talks about immigration reform — as you and your mean-girl pal Marjorie did at last year's SOTU — would have been fine if you were, say, at home or at a bar, or maybe a bowling alley where your husband was doing his best not to exhibit his junk to minors. At the State of the Union, it's just showing how little respect you have for American traditions that don't line your pockets or bolster your xenophobia.

If You Can't Have Respect, at Least Show Restraint
It's a shame that the hypocrisy of the GOP on this subject isn't even close to the most shocking thing that party does anymore, but let's not forget how much pearl-clutching there was from the Republican side of the aisle when there were murmured boos and dissent from the Democrats during George W. Bush's addresses in 2005 and 2007. They were shocked — shocked! — to find that there was such disrespect shown to the office of the president. And then they did a complete 180-degree turn when Representative Joe Wilson yelled out "You lie!" to President Barack Obama in 2009. The difference between then and now? Wilson had the political savvy to apologize for his outburst at the time, even if his symbolic censure was later opposed by the majority of his party. In 2022, no such gestures are required or expected from the GOP, which has since fully embraced opposition politics. Winning is more important than consistency or honor or tradition or logic or fairness. But really, Representative Boebert, you may have learned the wrong lesson from the past: Just because you're saying it loudly doesn't mean anyone's listening.
Grow Up and Have Some Class
You clearly aspire to wield actual power, and for deeply weird and politically expedient reasons, you've been bestowed committee assignments that offer you the chance to do exactly that. But even sinister anthropomorphic turtle Mitch McConnell knows when he needs to at least portray respect, even if his wizened black heart knows nothing of honor. You don't seem to have learned that lesson yet. Naked and unreasonable antagonism will only take you so far; at the very least, you have to learn to keep your ugliness on the inside. Or, better yet, come to an understanding that more is required of you than just being a barky gun-activist rabble-rouser. Understand that respect for a person or institution isn't about them, but reveals you.

Behave at this year's State of the Union 2023, and no colleague will have to ask that most infamous congressional question: "Have you no sense of decency?"
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen

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