There was a shocking lack of respect displayed at Barack Obama’s health care speech last night. President Obama spent most of his speech calling opponents of Democratic health restructuring plans liars. South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson called Obama a liar in response.
A shocking lack of respect all around.
Not for the first time. Like when George Bush was booed at Obama’s inauguration.
UPDATE: One of the commenters argues that last night was different because it was members of Congress doing the shouting. So, I link to the Democratic Media Matters compilation of news reports on George Bush’s 2005 State of the Union address, reflecting the disruptive behavior of Democrats in Congress who booed and hissed throughout the speech:
TED KOPPEL (ABC host): When the president talked about the bankruptcy of Social Security, there were clearly some Democrats on the floor who thought that that was taking it too far. And they did something that, apparently, no one at this table has ever heard before. They booed. [ABC, Nightline, 2/2/05; Koppel’s panel consisted of former Bush adviser Mary Matalin, former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, and former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman]
JOHN ROBERTS (CBS White House correspondent): At a couple points in this address, it looked more like the British Parliament than the United States Congress. I’ve never heard the minority party shout at the president during the State of the Union address. [CBS, post-speech coverage, 2/2/05]
JOE SCARBOROUGH (former U.S. representative (R-FL) and MSNBC host): After the Democrats booed and hissed, Republicans were on the floor saying, you know, we never once did that to Clinton. So every time he would talk about Social Security, the roars got a little louder. And they got behind their president. [MSNBC, Hardball, 2/2/05]
BOB BARR (former U.S. representative (R-GA) and CNN contributor): It will be a very, very difficult battle as we saw by the unprecedented and, I think, highly improper virtual booing of the president when he simply said that the system is going to be bankrupt and the time is now to fix it. [CNN, Inside Politics, 2/3/05]
JOE WATKINS (radio host and CNN substitute host): Did you hear it? Certainly not the polite protocol usually practiced when a president speaks to Congress. If a Democrat one day delivers a State of the Union address, I hope the Republicans won’t lower themselves to such a disrespectful level. I hope last night’s behavior by a few lawmakers doesn’t set a new precedent, that both parties can agree to remain civil, even when voicing disagreements.[…] PAUL BEGALA (CNN host): Let me correct your history — 1993, I was with President Bill Clinton in that House chamber when he addressed a joint session of Congress. And Republicans heckled him when he cited Congressional Budget Office statistics about the deficit. [CNN, Crossfire, 2/3/05]
JOHN GIBSON (FOX News host): Maryanne Marsh, what did you think of those audible jeers, boos, for the president? It sounded a little like the House of Commons: that grumbling that comes from the back-benchers when they don’t like something [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair said. That isn’t very common for state of the union speeches, is it?MARYANNE MARSH (Democratic strategist): I don’t ever remember hearing it, and was very surprised. But I have to say at least the good news is the Democrats are fighting and they’re on offense. And they’re more united than they’ve ever been against George Bush and the Republicans. [FOX News, The Big Story with John Gibson, 2/3/05]
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