Rude Republican breaches protocol

Democrats and Republicans alike are denouncing Rep. Joe Wilson for shouting "You lie" at President Barack Obama during his speech to Congress, an extraordinary breach of decorum for which the South Carolina Republican swiftly apologized.

"There’ll be time enough to consider whether or not we ought to make it clear that that action is unacceptable in the House of Representatives," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said late Wednesday on WTOP radio when asked about possible punishment for Wilson. "I’ve talked to Republican members who share that view."

"Let’s see what he does," Hoyer said before Wilson issued an apology. "Then there’s time enough to consider further action."

House Republicans did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but there was widespread condemnation of the outburst from members of both parties.

Wilson’s outburst came after Obama said extending health care to all Americans who seek it would not mean insuring illegal immigrants.

"You lie!" Wilson shouted from his seat on the Republican side of the chamber.

Wilson’s behavior caused a political hangover for him and possibly for the Republican critics Obama had cast as shrill and more interested in killing any health care overhaul than finding a way to provide it.

Later, Wilson was contrite.

"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me," he said in a statement. "While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

He then tried to call Obama to apologize personally, but ended up talking with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel instead, Wilson’s office said.

By that time, the congressman’s Web site had crashed, he had taken a beating on his Twitter page and Democrat Rob Miller had raised thousands of unexpected dollars online for a possible rematch with Wilson in next year’s midterm elections, according to Lachlan McIntosh, Miller’s campaign manager.

"Everybody was stunned," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said of Wilson’s eruption. "It was just something that nobody had ever witnessed before. We all felt embarrassed."

Republicans froze; several glanced in Wilson’s direction.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed a fierce frown at him; first lady Michelle Obama pursed her lips and shook her head from side to side. Vice President Joe Biden looked down and shook his head too.

Obama, meanwhile, looked toward the outburst and replied, "That’s not true" before going on with his speech.

Wilson appeared to consult his Blackberry for much of the rest of Obama’s speech. He shook his head defiantly after several of the president’s statements. When Obama finished, Wilson bolted from the chamber.

Wilson’s behavior was "totally disrespectful," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had been Obama’s rival in the 2008 presidential election, said on CNN. "There is no place for it in that setting, or any other, and he should apologize for it immediately."


Associated Press writers Ben Evans in Washington and Jim Davenport in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.


  1. Carl Nemo

    Good for the Congressman regardless of his breach of so-called Congressional decorum

    We’ve turned into a nation of pansies with an obsession for political correctness; ie., interfacing with our leaders in an obsequious fashion. Yeah, I know it’s the office and not the man.

    I’m disappointed that he apologized. Too many apologies in our times, too much “sucking up”.

    We see where this behavior has gotten us as a nation.

    Just wait an see. If this bill is passed within a few years or less it will come out that illegals are being cared for under this plan either due to some subsequent modifying legislation or a micro interpretation by those bureaucrats managing the dispensation of HR3200. The Congressman is most likely spot-on with his outburst. Either President Obama isn’t aware of the possibility of illegals being insured, or he knows full well that’s been the plan all along. I simply don’t trust him or our government’s intentions at this point in time.

    Concerning our national passivity; it must be the water…no?! : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. gazelle1929

    The man should be censured and expelled from the House.

    It is absolutely wrong to disparage and disrespect the Presidency. Notice I did not say the President, but the institution known as the Presidency.

    Boors like this do nothing to make our country better; rather, by injecting acrimony, hatred, divisiveness into the political process they make things worse. And so do the people who support and applaud such asinine behavior.

    Shame on this man and shame on those who support him.

  3. douin

    Regardless of whether illegals will or will not Continue to receive health care, the incivility of calling the President of the United States of America a Liar, in front of the entire world and during a speech before the Joint Congress, is absolutely and completely out of line, no matter the perceived reason by that crude Representative from the State of South Carolina. It only serves to solidify the hardened stance that the Republicans have drawn against all things Obama. Call it what you will, it is nothing less than Racist.

    This ‘problem’ pertaining to Illegals has been an ongoing one for many years…so why was President Bush not treated to the same outrageous outbursts ? We all know the reason..he is White. It is past time for this USA to grow up and understand that White does not make it Right. This kind of superior attitude is alienating the rest of the world against us. Might does not make it Right, either !

  4. douin

    Being ‘booed’ during a State of the Union address i s far removed from calling the President of our Nation a ‘Liar’. There is really no comparison. That being said..there is still no excuse for Rep. Wilson (R) screaming out in the middle of a Speech by our President, one which the entire world will have access to. Just think about the Worldwide repercussions if nothing else.

    It is still Rude and completely uncalled for, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with what Our President had to say in a speech to the Joint Houses of Congress. It is not just this man’s rudeness that is judged, but the whole Nation, as well. This cannot be allowed to be whitewashed by anyone, be they Republican, Democrat or Independent. This is akin to Screaming ” Fire ” in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

  5. almandine

    “This is akin to Screaming ” Fire ” in a crowded theater when there is no fire.”

    THAT is a crime.

  6. douin

    Almandine : I am glad that you agree that screaming ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is a crime. Calling the President of our Nation a LIAR during a speech to the Joint Houses of Congress for the whole world to see and hear, may not be ‘illegal’, but it is certainly shameful to the extreme. In fact, it even surpasses rudeness. Surely any fool can see that, regardless of their Political Affiliation. For the record, I am a registered Republican. That does not mean that I follow lockstep with the thinking of this Party, by no means.

  7. almandine

    Should we harken back to the days of our founding, to the time of Thomas Payne, to the era of forthrightness and honest debate, to the embodiment of robust personalities, you would surely be aghast.

    Suggesting that our Pres… almost any Pres in all our history, for that matter… would “bend” the truth seems much more civilized, no? Trouble is, the outcome of the utterance is the same. I truly respect the office, but in all honesty, not the bending of truth. If he falls into that category, so be it… and for the record, he does.

    As for the rest of the world for whom it would matter… You think they’re as politically correct as our populace?

  8. bryan mcclellan

    One liar calling another liar a liar seems bland, and if not before a joint session of Congress, then where would the appropriate venue for calling one another out be ? In the back rooms where they seek unseen to rip our country to shreds with their greed and avarice, or before the face of their bosses, the American public?
    I proffer the cloakroom is the place they prefer so that we cannot see their forked tongues and the yellow stripes running betwixt their scaly shoulders.

    This little episode was very educational because it tore down the insulting facade between the sleight of hand/mouth obstructionists and the politically correct (gag) waffling ( lets hand over our country to refugees) opportunists.

    Now maybe if we can get some real righteous indignation brewing between the two camps so their true colors will finally be revealed then we can look forward to the eventual demise of the good ole boys club.