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

Town hall anger echoed in Congress

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Penn Voter

    Joe's a hero. He called it for what it is, a big fat democrat lie.

    September 10, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. monman

    Let's all be honest with this. This kind of rhetoric has been ongoing ever since Obama campaigned for the presidency : "Terrorist", "Socialist", "Kill Him" ... Let's not fool ourselves, this is all because a minority, black president is sitting in the white house, and the so called "Republican Base", white folks, still can't accept him, nor will they ever do. If these people have the guts in spewing all this hateful rhetoric, and incite their base to do the same, go out and own up to it, so the rest of the country who are not as bigotted as you can drive you out of office and keep you out come election time. Don't hide behind the false pretenses of looking out for the"ordinary people". Well I'm an ordinary person, christian as well, and in no way form or shape am my values the same as yours.

    September 10, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Joe Wilson is a new hero – he stood up for the truth !! Obama is a bigger con artist than Bernie Madfoff – and much more dangerous.
    I am ordering a Joe Wilson T – shirt right now !


    September 10, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  4. Dennis

    Dear Emmanual Goldstein

    So apparently you are not pleased with the current state of affairs, so your solution is to give the Democrats half the country, the name and the debt? You do realize of course that 80% of the national debt has been incurred by Republician Administrations don't you. Why would the Democrats want to take over the payments on the Republicans drunken sailor spending? If you have doubts about what I say, than do some research, before you start parroting the puppet masters next time.

    September 10, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
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