September 10th, 2009
04:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Town hall anger echoed in Congress

One Republican member of Congress holds up a sign during President Obama's speech to Congress Wednesday night
One Republican member of Congress holds up a sign during President Obama's speech to Congress Wednesday night

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Shouting from the audience. Holding up signs blasting the health care reform bill before Congress. Frequent hissing and booing.

hough it sounds like behavior at one of the health care town hall meetings last month, it was how some Republicans reacted to President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

But Norm Ornstein, a longtime observer of Congress and an expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said the tone and behavior from members of Congress are not necessarily new.

"A lot of what went on [Wednesday] night has become fairly typical of what we've seen in the State of the Union messages over the last 10 or 12 years, where it's one side jumping up wildly and the other side sitting on their hands in stony silence."

The most memorable moment came from Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, who shouted "You lie" after the president said that a Democratic-sponsored health care bill would not cover illegal immigrants.

Ornstein said that in addition to being beyond the bounds of what is typical, Wilson's comment is "just sort of stunning in the level of disrespect for not just the president but the presidency."

During several moments in Obama's speech, members of the GOP hissed and yelled at the president as he laid out his plan for reform. One Republican wore a sign around his neck saying, "What bill?"

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, was seen several times typing on his phone during the speech.

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Filed under: Congress • Health care • Joe Wilson
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. rimantas

    Two facts:
    1. Obama did lie, more than once.
    2. Rep. Wilson was rude and out of line – not my kind of congressman.

    September 10, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Vets4Obama

    "One Republican wore a sign around his neck saying, "What bill?""
    -----------
    I remember doing those kind of things when I was a young and not so bright child of 10 years old and less.

    It's sad that republicans are stuck at that level of maturity their entire ives. Oh well, retardation is a birth defect, thankfully it only effects republicans.

    September 10, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. Sam Sixpack

    Now that ANY position has been articulated, we can get to the business of flushing out the truth (of which there isn't much).

    So far, we can be assured Americans will be required to contribute all they can "afford" to the lifestyles of fat, greedy, rich insurance executives.

    September 10, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. dougie dude

    what they don't tell you in that other article is that only 3 people watched the speeeeeeeeech!

    September 10, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Deuce

    CNN just paid that Bill??

    September 10, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. WhoCares?

    So sad that schoolgraders act more adult than elected officials. It was like watching churlish pre-schoolers when they showed the Republicans.

    What an utter disgrace to our entire nation.

    September 10, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Chris

    It looks like an advertisement for Grumpy Old Men 3.

    September 10, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Tony

    Interesting that the Dems will condem this guy for insulting the House of Reps while NOBAMA spoke, but they do not think anything wrong with Charlie Rangel...................

    No other explanation is needed. I say this guy should not say anything else. It seems to be the Dems MO when there are issues and it is accepted.

    September 10, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Shari, NY

    Well, to be honest I have seen a few infantile outbursts thanks to the foreign media. In some countries, they throw chairs and glasses of water at each other. Sometimes they even get physical.

    I have nothing but praise for our POTUS who, despite getting the kitchen sink thrown at him since he became a political figure, has never lost his cool in public. Thanks, Mr. Obama for teaching not only your children, but our children about PROPER DECORUM!

    September 10, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. Randolph Carter, the head of the death panel

    For some reason the republicans are under the impression that it is their God-given right to rule this nation. It's hilarious to watch them lie and act like spoiled little pouty children when they don't get their way. Did you see Boehner rolling his eyes, sighing and squirming last night? Classic. Now they know how we felt for 8 years under the smirking chimp and his pal Dick. Too bad for them that the demographics of this country are changing. Their days are numbered and they know it. Hahaha. On a side note, perhaps we could help fund healthcare reform by ending all farm subsidies. We don't want big bad government meddling in the private sector, do we repubs? Have a nice day!

    September 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. bam

    Looking at the photo of Wilson and the two neocons beside him, it's pretty clear that Wilson's outburst was pre-arranged, probably to grab media headlines and steal President Obama's thunder. The effort backfired. Campaign contributions to President Obama and to Wilson's opponent in the 2010 election are rolling in, and Democrats are galvanizing behind President Obama's health insurance reform plan. Further, the Republicans have demonstrated one more time their penchant for gutter politics. No substance, no ideas – just theatrics, lies, fearmongering, hysterics, and mob rule. Bush, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, Palin, etc. really pulled the Republican party into the sewer.

    September 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. bern

    All Wilson and the other republicans proved last night was that they can be stupid and rude at the same time.

    September 10, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Deuce

    Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. CNN Barack Obama did lie. He has done nothing but switch his agenda. Then he goes back to his original. He is a witch Doctor who has even CNN eating out of his hands. Why is it CNN's Obama wont "Go Away"???

    September 10, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. m jeff

    The Republicans looked like ignorant townhallers during the Obama speech. You guys are suppose to be educated, why don't you act like it.

    September 10, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. The Bu

    And we wonder why the American people are acting irrationally when our lawmakers act like this???? They just stoke the flames and people continue to go along with them. Has anybody heard an actual plan from the Republicans? I keep hearing them say that they've been shut out, but I continue to think of the "Gang of Six" but apparently that just doesn't count. For a President who has run on hope and change, it just seems like the other side just wants to pee-pee on that and they continue to tell the President and the American people to go to hell. It's really sad.

    September 10, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Bluebonnet

    I find this quite comical – wasn't it the Democrats that had the audacity to boo GW Bush at his 2005 address? Where was the disdain for the Democrats then? The hypocrisy appalls me! Why don't you liberal craps just let it go! The man spoke the truth, albeit out of line, apologized for it.

    September 10, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Ted Tartaglia

    Many of the Repubs in Congress acted like children during the President's speech last night. Surely the American people deserve better from their elected representatives.

    All elected representatives, regardless of party, should remember they represent all of the people in their districts, not just those who belong to the same party.

    It is time to end the petty ideological bickering and start working together to solve the country's problems. This means compromise!

    September 10, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Alfatu

    What Rep. Dingell said today explains it all:

    Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest serving member in House history, said he was not impressed by the GOP antics. "Well, you've got to understand: They're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural," he told HuffPost.

    September 10, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. gg

    Some those republicans' congressmen seem they elected from back door to the congress!!stupid..stupid..stupid.

    September 10, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Shirley In California

    Trash all of them. This is the type of behavior children are seeing all around the world. Its no wonder violence in the schools has gone up. Just look at the role models. Very impressive aren't they? Personally, I would be ashamed to exhibit that kind of behavior and call myself an adult.

    September 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. Russ

    Rupublicants are such bunch of infantile little babies. I'm not going to play with you if I don't get my way. I'll just take my ball and go home.

    What a bunch of losers.

    September 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    The problem with the GOP is that the majority of their leadership, Representatives and Senators are like the basest elements of their "base":

    - Obstructionist
    - Self-righteous
    - Power- and money-hungry
    - Party first, country last
    - Arrogant
    - Pro-business/anti-Middle Class

    And rude, hostile, uncooperative, whiny, divisive and immature. And did I mention suffering from a huge victim complex.

    No surprise that they behaved so badly during President Obama's speech.

    September 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    Last night the Republicans looked bitter, upset, miffed, annoyed, peeved, displeased, chagrined, irked, bothered, peeved, irritated, cross, incensed, enraged and infuriated.
    They looked like the bunch of salty haters they are

    September 10, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. alpha_nu_916

    civility from the republican party? uh . . . no way.
    the gop is now marginalized to parts of america that are predominantly uneducated & caucasian. yikes! game over!

    September 10, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. CG

    Total disrepect from the party of "false values" not just from Joe Wison.
    I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel , due to the building up of this hate machine within the GOP.

    September 10, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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