The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Health Care

Specter Calls for Censure of Wilson

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) called Thursday for the censure of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for shouting "You lie!" at President Obama as the president addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

"There ought to be a reprimand or censure of Rep. Joe Wilson to discourage that kind of conduct in the future," he Tweeted.

"Rep. Wilson apologized immediately afterward but I don't think that's adequate," he wrote just moments before.

Posted at 12:06 PM ET on Sep 10, 2009  | Category:  Health Care
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Standing and disrupting the President as he addressed the Congress is not permitted under house rules. Noises of hissing and moans, subtle sounds of non agreement have always been used by both parties. They have always been the stirrings of disagreement. Holding up signs and documents in the air, sending messages on your blackberry and not paying any attention to the speech on something so relevant and contentious as almost anything in this countries history and shouting a purely personal insult, as in "You lie" is over the line. Way, Way over the line. There is place for debate, and there is and has been countless opportunities to address difference on the health reform debate and this Presidential Address was not the format. The Republican House members have been insulting, demeaning and lying with regards to the President to include birther/deather nonsense, in public for so long without any push back, they now feel, Glen Beck style fabrications, can be used by them to get away with anything. Joe Wilson is not only a United States Senator, he is a member of the military and well versed in protocol regarding respect for rank. The Commander in Chief is the highest ranking office in the military. If this absurd, childish, rude, and uncalled for behavior, had been done by any other enlisted man or officer, they would have already been dealt with swiftly and harshly. Joe Wilson has taken advantage of his military benefits to include miltary insurance, some of the best insurance in the country. Now he should be accorded something else that comes with military rank and military benefits, accountability.

In addition, President Obama was not lying and no, Joe Wilson did misunderstand what the President was saying as he now claims. And, yes, the 1200 page original document which was circulated when the House went to recess in August did contain verbage plainly stating that under this health reform plan, no insurance compensation would be given by the government to illegal aliens. Joe Wilson must apologise for calling the President a liar and admit the President did not lie, he must apologise for breaking the rules of military and government protocal. Once his apologies are made he should "keep his mouth" shut as should his fellow representatives and walk off the floor after the spology and start "spinning" the apology to negate his responsibity for his behavior. If he does, he should be dismissed from his seat on the Armed Forces Committee and any other committees he serves on for the rest of his term.

Perhaps Republicans have decided to throw honor and honesty and the rules for political gain. Perhaps House Republican's refuse to recognize wrong when it is done by one of their own. The majority of people in this country, voted for this President, and no pip-squeak of a Congressman from either party has the right to treat the President in such a manner, agree with him or not.

Posted by: mancoff | September 13, 2009 9:10 PM

Senator Specter is irrelevant. That's probably the nicest thing I can say about him. As for censuring Joe Wilson..only after Harry Reid is censured for calling Pres. Bush a "liar and a loser", and the democrats at the state of the union address where they booed Pres. Bush. If the democrats are allowed outbursts of booing then Joe Wilson did nothing wrong. If you think he did then we can go back and censure the entire democratic party for acting out in a state of the union speech. The reason for the Obama speech was he was "invited" by Pelosi to address congress on health care. It was nothing more than a congressional town hall meeting. I hope liberals don't think Obama is above being called a liar to his face when he is lying to everyone else's face. Joe Wilson is a stand up guy and will be re-elected because he is a true patriot.

Posted by: Callie1 | September 13, 2009 12:37 AM

Wilson just proved what anyone with half a brain already knew..Republicans are a bunch of crap-weasels!

Posted by: heywoodjablome | September 11, 2009 7:32 PM

First, I'd like to invite anyone to post documentation that ANY Democratic member of the House or Senate EVER shouted "Liar" at any Republican president while he was speaking. Accepted as proof: video clips, the Congressional Record, etc. I watched (with a stick between my teeth to prevent me from grinding them down to the nerve) President Bush addressing Congress and I heard muttering, saw mugging and inattention, and despite my visceral hatred for that man, I was not proud of my elected representatives for their behavior. I accused Mr. Bush of lying many times, and, of course, I was right. But I used appropriate channels to do it.

Second, I'd like someone to explain what kind of Christian can work up this kind of hate and anger at the idea that we aren't doing more to prevent sick people from being cared for.

Third, I'd like to invite every Christian who CAN get angry about that, to re-read Matthew 25 and reflect upon what they are doing to the least of these brothers of Christ.

Posted by: martimr1 | September 11, 2009 2:24 PM

Wow, I'm appalled at the Comments section. My view of WP readers has plummeted through the floor. How could any decent human being support such behavior let alone applaude it? Is this what you teach your children? Their teachers must despise you. I also never want to sit near you in the cinema and I can guarantee waitstaff spit in your food. You have no sense of manners or respect. It's fine to disagree with someone but this is not the way to express that and Joe Wilson knows that. The current reform bill does not cover illegal immigrants, so you're all a bunch of liars for saying Wilson is telling the truth. And Democrats DIDN'T do this to Bush, that's what is so exasperating because never has anyone lied more and deserved to have 'Liar' yelled at him than Bush but it never happened. Wilson should be ashamed and all of you who support it should sit in the corner for your Time Out because you're children.

Posted by: nailbunny | September 11, 2009 12:14 PM

I for one am disgusted with our so called leaders we all are supposed to look up to, get rid of him now he is stupid and plain ignorant, this is quite a teaching event we had yesterday for our children... I am ashamed of any one that would do this to an elected President..
I just hope our children learned how NOT to act in public..
A heck of a learning expercince wern't it?

Posted by: nannyb715 | September 11, 2009 1:29 AM

It's simple! The truth hurts and hit close to home!

This is nothing compared to what the democrats did to President Bush.

Joe will soon be receiving my check!

Posted by: lacal16 | September 10, 2009 11:21 PM

Specter- SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP !!!!

Joe Wilson ROCKS...I wish MORE stood up and said those two words....YOU LIE!!

Posted by: 308winshooter | September 10, 2009 8:47 PM

so it's ok for Harry Reid to yell out to Pres. Bush, liar, looser.
i am so sick of the double standard.
It's ok for pelosi to call american people nazi's.

Start reporting the news evenly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: casie1 | September 10, 2009 8:28 PM

It most certainly is not adequate. The censure of Joe Wilson should be swift and carry a heavy message. Despicable behavior.

Posted by: joneshn | September 10, 2009 8:09 PM

Even though his official web site is down, you can still send Joe feedback on his campaign site:

Posted by: candersonjax | September 10, 2009 5:24 PM

Interrupt and insult the President for all of America to see and go straight to Hannity for an exclusive interview. Michele Bachmann has competition.

Posted by: detemad | September 10, 2009 3:32 PM

I can understand why he screamed at President Obama as we are all sick of his lies but that is not the time or place. I think if Arlen Specter/trader wants to censure Mr. Wilson he should look back at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in every speech that President Bush made to Congress she was talking with Dick Cheney, making faces and snickering. My husband and I found her to be VERY distractive.

Posted by: theresawhyte | September 10, 2009 3:28 PM

Senator Specter is right -- the outburst was exactly the kind of thing that censure is meant to discourage. But there's more. Joe Wilson is both an attorney and a retired National Guard Colonel, and he knows full well that the Uniform Code of Military Justice specifically prohibits what he just did: "Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President...shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." He can hide behind Congressional immunity (though not if he were censured), but he should feel genuine shame for the example he has set for other military officers.

Posted by: Dustoff58 | September 10, 2009 3:10 PM

Was Joe Wilson drunk?
I guess it doesn't matter
a rube is a rube is a rube.

He'll never be able to give a speech or be taken seriously since everyone will be screaming liar at him.
He should resign

Posted by: get_tommy | September 10, 2009 2:48 PM

Congratulations Joe Wilson. I am proud that at least one member of the Rep. Party had the courage to "speak truth to power". I don't live in S.C., but I will be contributing to Wilson's reelection campaign. Finally, a congressman with balls.

Posted by: Spartan7 | September 10, 2009 2:22 PM

Since when does 'decorum' trump 'the Truth'? I will support Rep. Joe Wilson for finally doing what should have been done many months ago! The check is in the mail.

The President was also inaccurate, by omission, when he said: "As Ted Kennedy would say, 'Jump in... let's go for a ride" (missing: Mary Jo).

Posted by: pmxpilot | September 10, 2009 2:20 PM

Will the Sergeants-at-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate tolerate a disruption like the one we saw last night ["You Lie", by Republican Joe Wilson] ?

This member should be barred from future presidential addresses to congress, including State-of-the-Union addresses.

Posted by: tmaloney4210 | September 10, 2009 2:19 PM

Well, if nothing else, Joe Wilson showed what a classless cracker he is. Would anyone really expect this behaviour from someone other than the heart of the Confederacy. Old feelings never seem to really die, and this outburst was, no doubt, a product of his real feelings about having a "nigro" as President. Where was he when the Bush group was lying to the country about Iraq? Well, I spent 7 months in Europe at that lead up time to the war and can say that no one I spoke to in France, Germany, Belgium or any othe countires I was in believed the lies of that administration. Once again we show the rest of the world how petty amd mean-spirited we are. Also, why is there always the issue of affordability for a basic benefit that the rest of the first world countries guarantee to their citizens when we have spent over a trillion dollars on an immoral and unjust war? And we like to call ourselves a "Christian" nation? How can these phonies go to church every sunday and stand up for Big Business at every turn. Did Christ say "give all you have to the poor, and come folow Me" or screw everyone you can for the only thing that counts is profits? Thank God I don't live in red-neck land!

Posted by: shogun17 | September 10, 2009 2:06 PM

Congratulations to Wilson!
An American Republican Congressman who is openly for the people, snd one who will not permit the Administration to continue to lie to the American people. We must populate our government with those who will defend the citizen, and tell the truth, no matter how inconvenient it may be. If we all face the truth we will survive. Lies told damage everything.
The Democratic party is waging war on us. If we allow them to continue with damaging legislations, they will bring the nation down with complete chaos resulting.

Posted by: USDefender | September 10, 2009 1:55 PM

Senator Spector is a turncoat. Ran as a republican. Changed parties after he won. Who is he to calls anyone on the carpet?

Posted by: dirtyBuffers | September 10, 2009 1:45 PM

Kudos to Wilson! Hopefully the south and middle section of the country can break away from CA and the northeast. I have donated money to a politician for the first time in my life - to Joe Wilson. I am thankful that someone has had enough of this big govt, statist crap. Probably 50% of income goes to tax; income tax, property tax, sales tax, it never ends.... Pick up a history book folks. How many governement controlled states enjoy long term prosperity? look at eastern Europe. I have lived in France, and I promise you, you don't want their system. The US needs to hit the Reset button, and look at what the founding father's original intention and ideas were. Government should lay the foundation for free enterprise, not take over and run everything. What does our government do well? schools? What a joke. I live in SC and proud of it. Give 'em hell Joe!!!! next time throw your show, hopefully it hits Pelosi in the face. We are ready for action in SC!

Posted by: MoreTaxLessProduction | September 10, 2009 1:36 PM

Specter just cant handle the truth.
Sen Wilson I am really proud of you for standing up and speaking the truth about Obamacare. Keep it up

Posted by: flagmantexas | September 10, 2009 1:33 PM

A premeditated "psy op"?


South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson did more for the cause of affordable health insurance than even President Obama's forceful oratory.

But Obama's good intentions mean not a whit to the thousands of Americans being extrajudicially targeted and tortured by the U.S. government's stealth deployment of classified, silent and health degrading microwave and laser directed energy weapons...

...enabling crimes against humanity on a par with the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

When will Team Obama wake up and smell the "multi-agency coordinated action" American Gestapo police state -- and the incipient coup d'etat that it must put down before the rule of law, and democracy itself, become irretrievable?

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 10, 2009 1:22 PM

Jake D, we will. It's called "fund the opposition". If you're a Democrat, you can't help but be pleased with the GOP performance last night. GOP 2009=Dixiecrats 1948 (i.e. bunch of ignorant and bigoted old Southern white boys without a clue.)

Posted by: NotBubba | September 10, 2009 1:16 PM

I feel for Joe Wilson, in a way. Given how the GOP Congressional leadership has been boasting for months about their tight party discipline, I have no doubt this outburst was planned. For whatever reason, Joe Wilson was picked to deliver it, getting the chance to become the new conservative hero (which still may happen).

Unfortunately for him, when the response was overwhelmingly negative Wilson had to fall on his sword and take the heat on his own. Of course, him being from South Carolina, this probably will improve his chances of re-election. What a place that must be, with types like Sanford and Wilson.

Posted by: bpai_99 | September 10, 2009 1:15 PM

I just sent a contribution to Wilson's democratic opponent in next year's election, Rob Miller. I also sent a request to everyone in my address book to do the same.

I urge everyone who disagrees with Mr. Wilson's behavior to do the same, please send a contribution of any amount to Rob Miller:

Posted by: JRM2 | September 10, 2009 1:04 PM

Let’s look back at the lively, outspoken, argumentative, name-calling Continental Congress who defended the liberties of the citizenry and even dared to commit an act of treason by signing the Declaration of Independence to set us at odds with our leaders. Where are those brave, honest representatives today? Where are the men willing to face censure to speak the truth? The emperor was not wearing a birthday suit or lipstick last night, and ONLY ONE lively, outspoken, argumentative, name-calling representative was brave enough to point out the truth. Censure Joe Wilson? By all means we should be polite as we hand over our liberties! God forbid we look like radicals! Seriously?

Posted by: gumbogorgeous | September 10, 2009 1:00 PM


Posted by: JakeD | September 10, 2009 11:58 AM

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