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Tim Burchett pre-State of the Union critique proved to be false and contradictory

Re: “Congressman Tim Burchett: What you’ll miss in Joe Biden’s State of the Union,” KnoxNews.com, March 1.

KnoxNews recently carried a guest column by Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett; it really was just a disjointed blurt loaded with factual errors, contradictions, oversights, and wild extrapolations.  As the Democratic candidate challenging Burchett, let me set straight the public record.

Burchett used President Biden’s State of the Union speech as a laundry line on which to hang a set of stale talking points just before the start of the speech.  He likely cobbled together the work, or had someone do it for him, — and the errors were glaring.  Burchett wrote, “Viewers might find the visuals for Tuesday’s State of the Union strikingly similar to President Biden’s address to Congress in 2021.  Social distancing. No invited guests. A fence encircling the Capitol Building.”

Nope. People mingled freely before and after the event. Few masks seen in the crowd because of recent success in lowering the rate of COVID infection. The President recognized many invited guests. Oh, and Tim Burchett complaining about Capitol Hill security is rich irony. Let us remember he gave the insurrectionists who invaded our Capitol and attacked police the truth-denying, democracy-destroying vote they wanted.

Burchett blasted Biden on Putin but sided against NATO allies

Burchett even had the temerity to blame Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Biden “weakness.”  Let’s remember that Biden has led NATO and other European nations in forceful responses that include military aid and substantial sanctions, blocking the wealth of Putin’s oligarch base of power. 

By contrast, Burchett was a slavish adherent to the Trumpish assaults on NATO. He was one of just 22 congressmen voting against a bill that showed support for our NATO allies by prohibiting expenditures for the U.S. to withdraw from it (HR 676, Jan. 22, 2019).

Burchett has used the invasion of Ukraine in a contorted argument that somehow Putin’s paranoid war-mongering would have been blunted by the U.S. drilling and mining more fossil fuels and selling the oil and coal to Europe. Huh? Did he somehow miss the recent report from 270 researchers in 62 countries that we are at a crucial moment in battling climate change by reducing the fossil fuel pollutants that cause it? 

Perhaps we should mention that, according to campaign finance data compiled by Open Secrets, Burchett in his career had taken more than $65,000 from contributors associated with energy and natural resource interests.

Biden addressed issues the congressman predicted he would avoid

Contrary to Burchett prediction, President Biden did address inflation and has backed legislation that would fight it, notably on the price of insulin. 

Burchett consistently has voted against the administration agenda on every needed bit of policy from COVID relief to the bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

Biden came forward in his speech with a Unity Agenda of policies that should be non-controversial, contrary to Burchett’s lament of one-party rule. 

Burchett, on issues of bipartisanship, is a bit like the guy who predicts you’ll have pain in your leg and then kicks you in the shin. Tennessee deserves a better congressman.

Mark Harmon is a Democratic candidate for Congress, and a professor of journalism of electronic media.  His views are his own and not that of his employer, the University of Tennessee. This article was written for Knoxnews.