September 10th, 2009
04:45 PM ET
9 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. President George Hussien Washington

    By the way President Bush told lies that sent young men and women to early deaths, Reagan lied about the Iran Contra affair, did anyone from congress call them liars while they were making an address? No because we respect our president Trillion dollars in Healthcare cost, Trillion in Iraq. Why is it okay not to help your own Country?

    September 10, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Lori in St. Pete

    RE: bush was booed by dems in 2005; I just watched the video at real clear politics, and it wasn't clear who booed him. However, the topic was privatizing Social Security, and when bush was finished speaking, the entire repub side of the house gave him a standing-o. Ya'll were wrong then, and ya'll are wrong now.

    September 10, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. Sheryl

    Who voted for these people???? Bush was never treated like this, it is all about race i don't care what they say this is bigger than Healthcare and we all know it!!!!! CNN why arent you guys calling out the REPUBS when they lie you guys are feeding into this mess!!!!

    September 10, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. Rob H

    Sometimes I wonder how some Republicans in congress can sleep at night. They are dishonest and hypocritical almost all the time. I feel really bad for people who believe some of the things that Republicans and conservative commentators say. They are sheep being led around by wolves.

    September 10, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. Kim

    Joe Wilson wasn't the only Republican member of Congress who behaved disrespectfully during President Obama's speech. I didn't vote for President Obama, however, I do respect him and his office. I genuinely pray for him and his family, as we all should. I remember when former President Bush was ridiculed in office how members of the GOP rushed to his defense, claiming they respected his leadership and his office and that this is what is taught in the Bible. Yes, we have a different President in office, but what the Lord teaches us about respecting leadership – His position on that – hasn't changed. I'm sorry to say it all has the appearance of racism thinly cloaked behind a tattered veil of partisanship. I don't think I'll ever vote for a Republican candidate again.

    September 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. Down South

    It is the faces of loss. Loss of a Party. Loss of respect by the people of this nation. Loss of any contructive input into the legislative process. And a severe loss of relevance.

    September 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  7. Barry NiFong, Hawaii

    Oliar continues to preach about healthcare reform but STILL won't say what it is. Why does this guy need to lie about everything? I'm for reform, but it has to happen across the board, including TORT REFORM.

    September 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  8. Jane in S.F.

    If I might ask 'slp', on what do you base your absolute conviction that we will all 'know better" in the future? Do you work in the White House? Are you privy to information other than that spewed by Rush Limbaugh et al? Did god come to you in dreams and explain it all to you? So, where are your facts, and what in your expert opinion, besides the color of President Obama's skin, makes him such a danger to the free world, or more specifically, to you???

    September 10, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. Cindy

    Republicans are so out of touch. President Obama did a magnificent job... he reached out to them for bi-partisan support. Today, all you see from them are more posturing.

    They will be on the wrong side of history.

    "Grandpa, where were you when President Barack Obama finally provided healthcare to all of us?"

    "Well grandson, I was following my party's marching orders, and continued to be an obstructionist..."

    September 10, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. tonyt

    The Haters keep saying President Obama lied.

    But It's Been Fact Check by every news group and by some private news watch dogs also.

    And The verdict; Rep. Wilson was wrong, Obama Has Not Lied.

    All Of You Who Feel Our President Lied, Concerniing this Matter Where's your Proof.?

    Name At Lease one Fact Check Watch group or proof it yourself and post it.

    If your going to take the time and post saying our president lied, "the easy part" Show us or explain, too difficult to proof I guess.

    Show Us Please, Break it Down!

    September 10, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Lila

    Nice. It sounds like these people need a time out for behaving like 5 year olds.

    September 10, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. Laura in KS

    Dear God, can we please stop using those horrid catchphrases like "we the people!"! It sounds so phony. I mean, saying "we the people" insinuates that you view Americans as a collective body, however, for the most part, those shouting out about "we the people" couldn't care less about the welfare or well-being of their fellow Americans. It's so hypocritical.

    September 10, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. cmkc

    Republicans – Angry privileged wealthy white men who can't stand the idea of helping others - "I've got mine, go get your own." (Anyone that wants to discount me as a racist - I"m white.)

    September 10, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Emmanuel Goldstein

    The hypocrisy of the left is astounding. It is clear the Republic is finished, and it is ending under the sort of conditions I expected it to. If we can't agree to an amicable divorce, we should do the honorable thing and fight it out in the streets and countryside until we each have our own countries. Then, we can be with our own, and you can have your socialist utopia. You get to keep the US designation and its debt.

    September 10, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Tom

    The Republican party tried to stop Medicare, Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, and the list could go on. In the last eight years, they gave us the Iraq war, the recession, massive tax breaks for the richest among us, a decaying infrastructure and tons of environmental pollution, and a bad name around the world. Somebody tell me again why we are listening to the Republican party at all? It's time to get real health care reform done now.

    By the way, why do Republicans say that the public option will be a failure yet at the same time somehow it will drive the insurance companies out of business? Which is it, GOP? You don't know, do you? That's because neither is true. The public option works in the rest of the industrialized world. We deserve the best too.

    September 10, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. stan

    Thanx to joe wilson the Republicans just gave the Democrats 80% of the latino vote,which means the Gop will not ever gain control of anything in Washington,the gop couldnt afford the latino cummunity voting the way the African-american cummnity is doing.,So say goodbye to the Republican party,the Gop will be absolete by 2024 you can bet on that.

    September 10, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Beeman

    Even though it is true it is and was idiotic to say it . We have had Senator Reid call Bush a loser and a liar. He spoke like a crass and unrefined Democrat and he hurt the Republicans by doing so.

    September 10, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  18. perri

    I think any congress member who votes against health care should have to give up his or her government provided health insurance.

    September 10, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. Andy

    Wait a minute... The Republican Party still exists??? Lol.

    September 10, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "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."

    You mean the status quo?

    September 10, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. ~~ July ~~ ( Working HARD to make TX Blue )

    IF you are 'man' enough to MAKE a sign ... be 'man' enough to HOLD UP THE SIGN UP!!!!! ... don't hide it sweetie it only makes you look more hhmmmmmmmm coward?

    September 10, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  22. No one should die or go bankrupt because they can't afford health care

    Angry white men who are about to go postal have no place in the US Congress. Most Republicans have not repudiated Wilson's outrageous, rude, childish outburst at our Commander in Chief. The GOP is being reduced to a few desperate angry white men.

    September 10, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. Ken

    One would think, given the age requirements to be a congressman, that the members could behave like adults.

    September 10, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Judi Baller

    The Republicans looked like a class full of sulky 5th graders, scowling and mumbling under their breath. Made me want to shout, "Grow Up"!

    September 10, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  25. Dave

    Republicans said that the President was not bi-partisan enough in his speech. Really? Did you watch the same speech I did? I think that it's time to tell the republicans to shove it and do this on our own.

    September 10, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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