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. Robert

    Forget the republican's at your own risk and own peril, literally.

    September 10, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. DEBBInola

    Ignorant and classless, not only do they act like a pack of rude morons, they sat in dark suits with arms crossed, faces all scrunched up and pouting like spoiled little brats..
    Then, to top it off, they had the choreographed paper waving thing all together. However I saw a few not waving in sync. heeheeeee
    Was I the only one who noticed they were mainly all white males between 40 and 80? When will the republican mostly all white males club join the new century?
    They are still awaiting the second coming, of ole Ronald Reagan..

    September 10, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Robert

    Democrats have changed the meaning of the word liar just as they are attempting to change the meaning of the word marriage.

    Liar now means anyone who says something they don't want to hear. It started with Bush and continues on.

    September 10, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    There is no excuse for bad behavior. Isn't that what we teach our children?

    September 10, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. ConsiderThis-FL

    Republicans are hateful and evil. They would rather see people live without healthcare and die because they don't have money like they do (by stealing it). What kind of people are they? Are they human? Do they have hearts or a conscience. Never in my life (except for slavery days) have people been so ruthless and barbaric. Republicans are a cancer on America and if we don't stop tolerating their filth, we'll all become infected one way or another. I'm sick of them; really sick of them. Just look at the expression on their faces – pure evil.

    September 10, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. Deuce

    Yes Wolf.. You go back to Square one. You re Elect George Bush Jnr. Then he can do what should have been done after Iraq. But you threw away a Whole year Electing this idiot obama.. Now you need to Elect John McCain to recover all that you lost under Obama...

    September 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Anne E.

    The Republicans sat there looking like the sore losers they are.
    If decent health care reform legislation doesn't pass, everyone will know who doesn't have the country's best interests at heart.
    The GOP has the burden of putting up or shutting up.
    And for the record: Joe Wilson is as classless as he is clueless.

    September 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Chris

    Are there any rational Conservatives anymore? Chuck Hagel and John Warner represented what was honorable about conservatism when they were Senators. Now, there's just a bunch of baffoons yelling nasty insults and names at the President. Why can't the right have an honest dialogue about the issues instead of spouting ridiculous insults at political opponents?

    September 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    The behavior of the Republicans in Congress and on this blog goes a long way in explaining why they will be out of power for a very long time.

    September 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. Wendy

    President is no different and history has shown us that many President's have lied. So presidents shouldn't be trusted and all details need to be verified even if that means standing up to him and in front of him.

    September 10, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. John in WV

    This man called the President a liar in the Halls of Congress before TV that most of the world could see. If he is sincere about his apology, I suggest he prove it by giving up his govt. run health care plan.

    September 10, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Lisa in MN

    The Republicans display last night was very sad. My boys played sports throughout their youths and when they displayed poor sportsmanship my husband or I would walk on the field or mat and escourt them home... then they would get an earful and last of all they had to call their coaches and teammates to apologize. Last November the Republicans lost and now they are behaving like a 2nd grader who has yet to learn sportsmanship. They are digging themselves a big hole with the independant voters.

    September 10, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. Anne E.

    Bushco and the GOP took advantage of every opportunity to call anyone who opposed the actions of the administration "un-American."
    By the same token, that's exactly what Joe Wilson proved himself to be last night.

    September 10, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Uncertain Republican

    As a long standing Republican, I'm reaching my breaking point.

    I don't agree with all that is in the Presidents plan, but I'm not against all of it either. I wouldn't mind a Trigger mechanism, it's fair to say the least.

    Alas, I would probably vote for the bill simply to spite my own party at this point. They are a pathetic lot. I can not rightly justify why I'm a republican anymore. At least not by using examples of leaders in my party.

    Grow up. Do something other then complain. Respect my country and my President. Or LOSE your party. I shall destroy it myself if you continue this pathetic and juvenile behaviour.

    September 10, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Tyler

    Republicans came off looking very foolish.

    September 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. maria

    This is not about town hall anger. People can be angry but still conduct themselves in a civil manner and have civil discourse. This is about town hall lies and distortions.

    September 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Laura in KS

    So many people keep saying Obama is a liar, but they never give specifics on what exactly Obama has lied about. Give me examples or just admit that you're a time-traveller who has been to the future and brought back proof to back up your claims that Obama is a liar.

    September 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Dean

    Well I can see the republicans have not and never will change. They will go down in history as the party of NO and fall the way of the wigs.

    September 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  19. Lydia

    The collective behavior of the Republican party since the election of President Obama is/has been despicable.

    Simultaneously they act like a group of two-year old, petulant children having a temper tantrum and a group of mean-spirited, evil, racist ideologues.

    September 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  20. Rapotat

    Hmm. The distrators are out in force today: Acorn.

    For the rest of you righties, did your mother never tell you that just because you see someone do something wrong, you aren't justified in doing the same? Or are most of you too juvenile to understand?

    The *remember when* is old, dusty, and rather stupid. No doubt it is continually being brought up due to your own party members having no ideals, no solutions, and no real motivation worth noting.

    September 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. JAX

    Republicans have stooped to a new low...even lower than a snake's belly.

    September 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Politifacts has Obama's comments sampled at 2 truths, one barely true, 1 false.

    Maybe "you lie" was over the top. It was more like "you lie sometimes".

    September 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. harold

    The Republicans oppose health insurance reform just like they opposed social security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965.. reference historynet.com... social security 1935.. Medicare 1965......Nothing new for these Republicans... even thought they do seem to have mellowed towards social ecurity and Medicare since their mother is receiving both now in her retirement....Strange huh?

    September 10, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Sam

    1 Hour of Obama Speech = has Fcdkeu = 100,000 Hours of Rush Limbaugh's Hate Speeches.

    Americans want Love Like in Obama's Speech.

    Americans don't want Hate Like in Rush Limbaugh's Hate Speeches.

    We Love you Obama.

    September 10, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. JP

    The underlying theme of quite a few of these comments and this sinking nation in general is that people are so afraid that a black man is President.

    September 10, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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