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. sara

    Remember the Republicans did the same thing about Medicare. Now their mamas are receiving it and loving it.......then their children will get it and love it..........

    September 10, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Thanh

    Letting that heckling go without repercussions is damaging to the GOP and the nation. You can't set that as a precedent. That will give license to others around the world to assail the office.

    Also the behavior by Republicans last night did more than to confirm suspicions that they're training these mobs that wreck town halls across the nation. They don't care about health care reform. If they did, they would listen first, and react later, not goof around and tap on their Blackberries. They're only interested in killing or stalling the process.

    It's going to cost them big time and that whooshing sound is that of their independent constituency going down the toilet.

    September 10, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  3. Single-Dad-Uninsured-Fully-Employed

    Hypocrisy. Bigotry. Corruption. Lunacy. These four traits have led me to decide to leave the Republican Party in the next election.

    The American people need healthcare reform now. I work 10 hour days, go pick my 2 kids up from my Moms and pray they haven't been injured or get sick because it will bankrupt me. I can barely pay my rent, utilities, and living necessities because wages and job security in this nation have been on the back burner for the past 15 years. Who put them there? The Republicans. I have a college degree, obey the law and pay my taxes yet the Republican Party obviously don't give a crap about the working class in this nation, even their own like me.

    The Congressman who heckled the President is a LOSER with no class. Seems to be the set standard for Republicans these days. He should be forced from office and if the people of South Carolina don't do that it will paint a very low, low class picture of them.

    September 10, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. Stacy VanGroningen.

    Still nothing. No way of paying for it. This Health care plan is becoming a joke. I think it"s time to clean up the congress. I believe we were better off before the Democratic took over the congress. By the way you also talked about Madoff caught on tape today what about Acorn caught on tape. Do you wonder why your viewers are turning you off.

    September 10, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. victim of republican greed

    Republicans cannot stand the truth. Their stupidity is unbelievable. However, I'll bet Greer from Florida is glad that Wilson got him out of the headlines today.

    September 10, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  6. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    I dont understand why this is such a difficult task. It clear that Americans need affordable healthcare. It's clear that the Republicans are hellbent on stopping Obama no matter what his plan is.

    I dont think that it should be manditory for all americans to purchase health care though. It should be mandatory for healthcare to be provided to all Americans. A single payer plan is the only way to go.

    Who cares if insurance companies couldn't compete with a government run plan. That is capitalism right? If you cannot compete, you go out of business. Good bye and good riddance.

    It's time to stand up and let Big Business know that they cannot take advantage of us any longer.

    September 10, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  7. Thinking coherently

    I am proud that our President is a bigger man than most of the regular posters on CNN.com. Our President graciously accepted Mr. Wilson's timely apology. He understands that no man is perfect.

    I am also both saddened and amused by the obviously Democratic posters who speak out against the disrespect for the presidency. These are likely the same posters who continue to admire their precious Bill Clinton, who had so little respect for the office that he dropped his pants for an intern. It's interesting how some people only dislike the bad behaviors of people who don't agree with their own agendas.

    September 10, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Sniffit

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

    Indeed...keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The historic downfall of the Dems has always been winning power and then resting on their laurels though. Donations slow, the fervor mellows, etc. Meanwhile, the GOP does everything it can, including their tried and true demogoguery, to push the several factions of their fringe base over the edge of sanity: gun rights, secession talk, abortion blather, krischun nashun idiocy, states rights, socialism, communism, fascism, veiled code-speak for the benefit of the southern racists, etc etc. Dems need to realize that November 4, 2008 was not the victory, it was the drawing of the line in the sand....the knocking of a chip off the shoulder...and the fight's not over.

    September 10, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. jayel

    Where is the outrage when for the past 7 years trillions of dollars are being spent in a war based on lies (WMD)? Yet, to spend 900 billion dollars for health care reform that will benefit all Americans is being rejected vehemently by the right wingnuts. It's mindboggling...

    September 10, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. ctvoter

    Certainly clear that most of what's left in the Republican party are the fanatics = lots of disruptive behavior without ideas to solve the problem they couldn't. Complaints about fiscal responsibility are like running up a credit card charge (under Bush) and then giving it to someone else to pay off. How do these people get elected??

    September 10, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. ike

    Can someone please tell me what the Rebublicans alternative plan is to Obama's plan...where is it. All they have done is shoot his ideas down without offering there own. I think there dumb

    September 10, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  12. Jerome

    Since the presidential election of 2008, the face of the Republicans has been that of a contorted , red-faced white man or woman screaming in anger. Elected Republicans have done little to tone down this anger or speak out against the hate that is being directed toward Barack Obama. It has gotten to the point where even in the hallowed halls of Congress, Republicans behave like the crazed mobs we have seen at town hall meetings. Where was all this outrage when George Bush lied to American about "weapons of mass destruction"? Not one Republican spoke out about rampant deregulation, dead Americans overseas, and a war that has bankrupted this country. How in the world do Republicans think that they can get more minorities and women to join their ranks? It was made clear to open-minded citizens by the election of Obama that Americans are thinking, caring people. And we are wise to the fear-mongering and race-baiting the Republicans think will sweep them back into office. I only hope that they have not opened a Pandora;s Box of hate and uncivility that may lead this great country down the road to ruin.

    September 10, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  13. Jake

    just look a this photo! is this the sorry face of the Republican party? PATHETIC!

    is anyone truly fooled that these men are hard at work for YOU!?

    September 10, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  14. kingssman

    LOL i like the sign of "what Bill?" hanging from a republican. Its so true. What Bill do republicans have to offer?

    September 10, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. maureen

    Sounds like a bunch of domestic terrorists. Is that treason?
    Is Gitmo still open ?
    All these Tea Bagger Town Hall loonies should be taken there for threatening the President and Nation Security.

    September 10, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. LacrosseMom

    Interesting that the GOPers just say "Obama lied, or Obama lies" but..... they do not give any specific example!

    Here are some lies told by the Bush Regime:

    WMD's in Iraq
    "We do not torture" – even though they had secret prisons in foreign countries, for torturing.
    "We did not out Valerie Plame" – plenty of proof that ...... yeah..... they did!
    Bush hid the actual cost of the Iraq war, it was President Obama who publish its true cost.
    Bush lied about spying on Americans, breaking Constitutional laws.

    Don't believe me? Look it up, its fact.

    September 10, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. GOP DEATH PANEL

    GOP – No Health Coverage your screw, got pre-existing condition your screw, your health insurance doesn't cover medication you need your still screwed. GOP party of Death Panel. GOP answer to health care reform and millions whom being drop by health insurance due to that fact they have to cover for you – you should just go in a corner and die. Death Panel = GOP.

    September 10, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. marcus2

    These Republicans who held signs are absolute morons. They need to go back to their caves – joining their Taliban brothers.

    September 10, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Tony

    I wonder if Rep. Cantor let's his childeren text during church or family dinner? Or does he consider that rude and disrespectful?

    If people shouldn't text while driving, they shouldn't text while running our government.

    September 10, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  20. DA

    This is about RACE and it is time for the media to point it out!!!! The Republican party are a bunch of angry white men that basically have a problem with a African American President trying to help the common American!!! It is ridiculous and they all need to be thrown out of office!!

    September 10, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. GOP

    GOP is also the party of a CRIMINAL. Rember RICHARD NIXON??? then there is Ronald Regan who try to STOP MEDICARE. So who is the party of the Death Panel? Answer GOP.

    September 10, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  22. Obamanation

    wah wah wah! How is it that the subject of etiquette and "respect for the presidency" never came up when Bush was being lambasted and skewered – day after day after day?!? And who is the one acting classy now? President Bush. And who is the one that is going it alone and being condescending? MR. Obama.

    Dissent was patriotic, but apparently now it is disgraceful – even when it is the truth. The moral relativism is either schizoprhenic or downright embarrasing.

    "Oh, but MR. Obama is TRYING to reach across the aisle" – yeah, right with a mallet in his hand like he is playing whack a mole. Let's just be honest – he is trying to bulldoze his agenda through the same way the looney libs claimed Bush was doing.

    I think the libs clearly overestimated their "mandate" and are using up every piece of goodwill they have left with independents and disenfrachised republicans. There will be a vialbe third party soon. There has to be a viable third party soon, or the republic is dead!

    September 10, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. Beth

    Republican elected officials are narrow minded, purposeless, greedy pigs. They look like typical Russian mafia (not smart) sitting in the chamber. They are disgusting and nonsense people I ever seen. I will never, never support republican again. They all are liars, cheaters and hypocrites. I am done with them.

    September 10, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  24. ron

    These shills for big corporations look mad. They can see the day when there big payoffs will go away and they will have to answer to the American people.

    September 10, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  25. kas

    Obama does nothing but lie.
    Joe Wilson for president!

    September 10, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
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