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Rep. Edwards: Censure Obama Heckler

Health Care

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) may have reached out (perhaps reluctantly) to the White House to apologize for his headline-grabbing outburst during President Barack Obama's address to Congress Wednesday night, but that hasn't satisfied Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and others on the left.

Appearing on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU radio today, Edwards said Wilson's apology -- he shouted, "You lie!" after Obama denounced claims that a new health-care system would cover illegal immigrants -- was a "personal" one, but did not address the dishonor he brought to the institution of Congress, and she called for Wilson to be formally censured.

"A joint session of the United States Congress in this country is not a town hall meeting," Edwards said.

Edwards' call echoed one by the liberal Web site OpenLeft -- they have an online petition with more than 30,000 signatures encouraging the same -- and builds on the hard line she has taken on health-care reform. In contrast to Obama's repeated calls for bipartisanship on the effort, Edwards, who is vice-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill newspaper last month that Obama has "earned the right to go it alone" in passing health care.

For those struggling to make it to the weekend, a little extraneous background: The power to censure is derived from the U.S. Constitution, though the word itself does not appear in the text. Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 states that: "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."

If tradition is any guide, and Wilson were to be censured, he would be made to "stand at the 'well' of the House chamber to receive a verbal rebuke," and the Speaker of the House would read the censure resolution aloud, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. In rare instances, members even have been made to pay fines.

According to, the first member of the House to be censured was William Stanberry of Ohio in 1832, punished for insulting the Speaker of the House. The most recent were Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and Rep. Daniel Crane (R-Ill.) in 1983, both for sexual misconduct with a House page.

For more insight on the possible roots of Wilson's folly, check out the story today by the Post's Philip Rucker and Ann Gerhart.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  September 11, 2009; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care , Jonathan Mummolo , Montgomery County , Prince George's County  
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I'd second Rep. Edwards proposal...though its kinda fun to see NeoCons commit political suicide in such childish ways on with much of the nation watching.

Wilson's Democratic opponent raised almost $1,000,000 in contributions in the last 48 hours.

Posted by: free-donny | September 11, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Isn’t Joe Wilson an hoot and a half? It truly is an amusing thing to behold. The extreme right wing is having a collective, massive nervous breakdown. They just can’t come to terms with the nasty little fact that a black guy is the most powerful human being on the planet. It really is kind of funny – to a point.

Here’s what’s happening, boys and girls: The so-called “party of Lincoln” has been forever exposed as ideologically bankrupt and they are in the process of implementing their “scorched earth policy”. In other words, if they have to go down (and down they are going) they’re absolutely determined to bring the rest of the country down with them. That is what is happening - COUNT ON IT.

If you thought that the loony right wing had lost all the marbles they could possibly lose, oh brother! As Al Jolson used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”. Here's the part that's not so funny: There is violence down the road. Count on it.

Sound paranoid? Stay tuned.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Posted by: tomdeganfrontiernetnet | September 11, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is that the voters already spoke. They told the Republicans that they were done with the fear, hatred, distortion and division. They threw Republicans out of power and, with the exception of the Southern (don't call us racist) states, took every state.

There are clearly a small group of extreme right-wing white evangelical "Christian" conservatives who don't get it. The 'birthers', the tea-baggers, the anti-government, anti-tax, Limp-paw/Beck, cheat on your wife moral minority. They'll never get it. They'll try to de-legitimize Obama. They'll remain convinced that he's the devil/stalin/hitler. They'll keep screaming and carrying their guns around, and they keep becoming a smaller and smaller fraction of the right wing lunatic fringe.

Good luck to them. The rest of us have to get to work and fix the mess that GW Bush and the Republicans made of America.

Posted by: thebobbob | September 11, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

He should be CENSURED

jacksmith --- Working Class

Posted by: JackSmith1 | September 11, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me I have heard all these comments before. Its coming back to me now it was in the mid and late 70's when Jimmy Carter was gonna save the country. After massive federal debt and mortgage rates at 17 percent the country again turned to the other party to bail it out. And what is stopping all businesses from canceling insurance coverage and making employees take a goverment option if passed since it will be cheaper? Face it-- government continues to get bigger and take over every aspect of your life ---we already own the auto industry why not everything else

Posted by: ski1707 | September 11, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I watched this and started to by into what he was saying until he said his door was always open to Republicans with ideas. The Republicans have submited 35 plans that were all rejected, 800 amendments to the current plan that were all rejected and the last time he had a meeting with a republican representive was back on April 14th.
This speach was not for congress, it was for the american public to sway your opinon.
From what I have been hearing we are all going to be stuffed by thanksgiving.
I hope all of you who are in favor of this and are jumping up and down with glee if it goes through that you remember that moment because it may help your get past that shock when you get your paycheck and see how much more will be taken out to pay for all these reforms.
You don't have to agree but it will happen.

Posted by: rainman2 | September 11, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Shoot, if they are going to make such a big deal about yelling out "liar" the guy might as well have thrown his shoes at um.

So we are going to sit hear and say that Obama at no time before this night did not intend to include unauthorized aliens in the health care plan. And at no time was he going to use tax money to pay for abortions. And at no time sat in Reverend Whites church and applauded his ideals.

Man, I would of wore boots to that party.

Posted by: hanocul6 | September 11, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

It's just so sad that the Republicans can't accept that a Democrat is in the White House and he's African American. If the situation had been reversed, and Pres. Bush had been called "liar" in the run up to Iraq, oh, the cries of "Traitor!" and no apology would be enough. OBama was an invited speaker, he deserves respect.

Posted by: VikingRider | September 11, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

"Wilson's Democratic opponent raised almost $1,000,000 in contributions in the last 48 hours."

Wow, just an hour ago, the democrats claimed it was $400,000.

I claim it was closer to $0.

In other words: YOU LIE


Wilson will probably win in a landslide next time without spending a dime.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | September 11, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I was going to comment, but the level of discourse seems so low I wonder why bother?

Posted by: countbobulescu | September 12, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting to observe our democracy reverting to some of its undemocratic habits of yore when we "declared that all men are created equal" meant all white men; not Indians, slaves and women. A stark reminder of this current state of affairs was when Congressman Joe Wilson shouted "you lie" to the president at the joint session of Congress this week. The camera panned over to see the audacious actor from the rascally South Carolina surrounded by a sea of white male faces, hardly the America of 2009.
Senator Cardin's now infamous "town hall" meeting was another case in point. Ron Paul's devotees (primarily white men) organized a large group to be first in line to garner a prominent share of the limited seats. The Ron Paul shouters were hardly spontaneous, but well scripted ahead of time to disrupt the event and prevent the larger majority from having a fair presentation of the issues. Ron Paul can shout his opinion a zillion times, but we still need a functional federal government.
I remember listening to C-SPAN during the presidential campaign when it seemed every third caller on the call in program was a Ron Paul supporter. Serious issues that need debating are swamped by a disruptive small entitlement fringe. All that noise and I think Ron Paul got about 2 or 3 percent of the vote?
All that noise during August that got in the way of the serious health care debate hopefully will be put aside as the nation addresses the serious issues it elected the president to address. Issues that represent the issues of all Americans, not just that dour looking group of white men encircling Congressman Joe Wilson.

Posted by: matayaya2 | September 12, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Ron Paul was just another windbag who managed to milk the internet for all its worth. I wouldn't worry much about the wingnuts on the Mall the other day, most of them are so "out there" they probably aren't registered to vote and haven't voted in years cause theyh think the whole electoral system is rigged. Let them stew in their conspiracies.

Posted by: VikingRider | September 13, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Enjoy it while it lasts. The 2010 elections will correct what has become apparent to many citizens the horrible mistake made in the last elections. A shift of 40 to 70 seats will send the right message. Obama is a lame duck and will go the way of Carter in 2012.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | September 13, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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