What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 10, 2009

Respect, Decorum, And The Republicans

A day or so after Senator Saxby Chamblis, Republican of Georgia, declared:
I think what you’re looking at is folks on my side anxious to see what the president has to say tomorrow night. I think he’s going to have to express some humility based on what we’ve seen around the country during August, and that’s not his inclination.
Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution added:
Please note that Chambliss did not use the “U” word.
I had to look this one up. For those who don't know, the "U word" is "Uppity."

But let's not assume the Southern Republican Senator was calling for the President to Yassuh and Nossuh his way through his health care speech last night. For the sake of simplicity, let's just assume he was calling for a respectful level of political decorum and respectful level of tolerance for opposing views.

So how did the Republicans do last night?

Well first there was South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson:
In an extraordinary breach of congressional decorum, a Republican lawmaker shouted "You lie" at President Barack Obama during his speech to Congress Wednesday.
After the inevitable backlash, the "gentleman" from South Carolina apologized:
"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me," Wilson 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."
Then there was this stuff from the Huffingtonpost:
Wilson's wasn't the only disruption, though it was the most extreme. Throughout the speech, Republican members of Congress repeatedly held up stacks of papers that appeared to represent ideas they had for the bill.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) held signs that read "What Bill?" and "What Plan?"

When Obama told the chamber that the "death panel" lie was, in fact, a lie, a Republican member said loudly enough to be heard in the press gallery, "Read the bill" -- a common refrain at August's angry town hall meetings.

When Obama told the chamber that he had "no interest in putting insurance companies out of business," a Republican member responded with a loud, "Ha!"

"Nineteen years, never, never have I seen anything like this," said a furious Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) after the speech.

"I thought it was very inappropriate behavior, to hold up signs. None of us ever would have done that," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). "I don't think in the Congress of the United States there ought to be catcalls, or people standing up and yelling comments or holding up signs."

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest serving member in House history, said he was not impressed by the GOP antics. "Well, you've got to understand: They're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural," he told HuffPost.

And Van Jones got into trouble for calling Republicans "assholes."


Clyde Wynant said...

The New South still don't like them Negroes, do they?

At the end of the day, that's what this is all about. Post racial? How 'bout post civil rights.

As I so often do, I wonder what would happen if the shoe had been on the other foot. Can you IMAGINE the uproar if a Democratic Member had done this during a GWB speech?

Wilson will be a hero with his NASCAR buds, that's for sure. He'll forever be known as the guy who had the balls to stand up to the darkie President. I predict he's got a permanent seat in the House.

As to his apology? Such utter and complete BS. Whether the decisions to do this was driven by him and his campaign, or whether he was a chosen proxy for the GOP, we probably will never know, but this wasn't an "emotional outburst," this was a well-planned tactic.

And Obama? While I realize he probably needs to stand above the fray, I'd love the WH to release statement today (maybe they have or will?) decrying such outbursts and calling them childish and likening Wilson to a drunken heckler at a comedy show. A comment that would be tantamount to "There's no crying in baseball." Next time, wouldn't it be great is the President stopped and simply asked the Sgt. at Arms to "Remove that person, please."

EdHeath said...

I think Joe Wilson should resign his seat. Period.

Sherry said...

i was amazed at the rude and childish behavior. just appalled by it.

they had no respect at all. they acted like fox news clowns.

Heir to the Throne said...

Oh please, cry me a river.
Democrats Booed and hissed to G. W. Bush speeches and gave out tickets to code pink.
No doubt progressives (Ed/David) will give them a pass like they did at the news that Democrats held hearing for Bush I's school speech.
I await the all purpose "Bush lied us into war" excuse.

Maria said...

As always the right has no clue about proportion.

Both sides have applauded/booed at a presidential address.

It's only your side who yell LIAR at a president during an address to Congress and wave signs like some bad prop comic.

Maria said...

Republicans = Carrot Top

EdHeath said...

So, HTTT, Republicans accused the President of trying to recruit an army of thugs and advance a socialist agenda in his “stay in school” speech. Glenn Beck succeeded in forcing an apparently decent man out of his job because he signed a petition in 2005 that the White House ignored signals that 9/11 was going to happen because it wanted to go to war in Iraq (we in fact know the President was briefed before 9/11 that Al Qaeda was determined to strike the US, and that Bush was planning since January of 2001 to attack Iraq, according to Paul O’Neill; but it might not be possible to put those two things together) and Beck has announced he intends to hound three other Obama appointees. And now a Republican called the President a liar during a speech to a joint session of Congress. And your response, HTTT?

“You did it first”

You sound like an eight year old. You think that if any Democrat, anytime, anywhere in the past was not perfectly behaved, that gives Republicans a free pass to do anything they want?

And anyway, how, exactly, does “you lie” advance the discussion? How is that constructive?

You would be wise not to bring up the record of the Bush administration. They did not even try to reform healthcare, not once in eight years (and certainly not in the period when they had majorities in Congress). Of course, they did nothing to prevent 9/11, they did not try to win in Afghanistan, they let the housing bubble expand until it burst, they ignored signs of trouble in the financial sector, they did nothing to curb our use of oil and watched as speculators drove up the price of gas last summer, which probably caused the current recession, and yes, Bush lied to us about Iraq when he wanted to invade. As you well know. No WMD’s, no connection to Al Qaeda (when we invaded, now there is, thanks to Bush), and even his prediction that Iraqi democracy would spark democracy across the middle east has gone horribly wrong. But you would have had the Democrats sitting on their hands and saying nothing.

Fortunately even some conservative die hards like Joe Scarborough are distancing themselves from the party. It is looking more and more like the Republicans have over played their hand. Just like in the debates when John McCain looked like an angry and confused old man next to the rational and calm Obama, so too the Republicans are looking shrill and just plain mean next to the Democrats.

Or did you want to bring up the VA death book again? Why, HTTT, do you hate old people who just want to make arrangements for their own death, who don’t want to bankrupt their kids (because your party refuses to address the cost of health care).

Heir to the Throne said...

an apparently decent man out of his job because he signed a petition in 2005 that the White House ignored signals that 9/11 was going to happen
a call for immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.
Nice seeing the progressives who condemned the Birthers now defend a Truther.
You sound like an eight year old. You think that if any Democrat, anytime, anywhere in the past was not perfectly behaved, that gives Republicans a free pass to do anything they want?
As for sounding like A 8 year old,
So democrat's defense is:
But that's different. We don't LIKE him!"
How about if the Democrats did the same thing in the past and applauded it, Their complaints can be ignored when the shoe on the other foot.

EdHeath said...

Well, I don't know Jim Treacher particualrly, except that he is referred to as an "internet humorist", but I watched the video clip and nary a "You Lie" in earshot.

"an immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur" We never did find out what Bush was told when he was briefed in August of 2001 that "Al Qaeda is detirmined to attack the US". But again, we know from Paul O'Neill that the Bush administration was planning to attack Iraq back in January or February of 2001. Presumably they were looking for an excuse.

Clearly conservatives hate American children.

Dave said...

And now a Republican called the President a liar during a speech to a joint session of Congress. And your response, HTTT?

“You did it first”

The ironic thing is that the article HTTT linked to shows that, in fact, it was the Rethugs who "did it first" since they repeatedly booed Bill Clinton during SOTU speeches. One other difference: Dubya was booed because his statement was a lie (he was repeating the debunked wingnut talking point about SS being broke by 2042--a canard they used to justify SS privatization). OTOH, Wilson yelled "you lie" in response to a statement by the President that was actually true.

Ellipses said...

Just wanted to add... the video is of a 2005 SOTU address... Bush had effectively been a "bad" president for about 5 years at that point...

Obama has been president for 8 months and has yet to have 3k civilians killed on his watch, hasn't led us to war with a country that does not possess the weapons that are the prime reason for going to war, has not given away a budgetary surplus in tax breaks, has not purposefully understaffed a war in a country where we ARE justified in being, has not drawn an arbitrary and illogical line in the sand (with us or against us), and has not actively sought to repeal our 4th amendment rights, actively sought legal loopholes that would permit torture, nor has he screwed a generation of children by passing every child left behind...

After 5 years... maybe some catcalls will be justified. Not that it matters to Wilson, he won't be a congressman at that point.

jaywillie said...

There is nothing wrong with booing or even cat-calling.

But it is simply a fact that House parliamentary rules forbid members from calling someone a liar and expressly forbid showing disrespect toward the President. It's been that way for a long, long time.

Wilson's sin is breaching the longstanding and honored etiquette of the House and Senate. It's a very specific transgression against those procedures meant to preserve the deliberative process of our legislatures. It indicates a lack of professionalism and a lack of respect for our institutions and the rules for maintaining decorum.

If Wilson has a problem with obeying the rules of the chamber in which he serves, perhaps he shouldn't occupy that seat.

There's also the political ramifications of saying something so stunningly stupid that it enables your opponent in next year's midterms to raise $200,000 in less than 24 hours.

That's just bad politics. And while Republicans may think that these relentless attacks and lack of civility are helping their cause, the truth of the matter is that despite some short-term gains in bringing down the President's approval, it's done nothing to shore up the GOP's credibility, which, after the tacky display of juvenile antics at last night's joint session, took another serious hit.

Conservative Mountaineer said...

jaywillie says...
But it is simply a fact that House parliamentary rules forbid members from calling someone a liar and expressly forbid showing disrespect toward the President. It's been that way for a long, long time.

I've searched, but cannot seem to locate basis for your position.

Can you point me to the specific House parlimentary rules that "forbid members from calling someone a liar"?

Can you point me to the specific House parlimentary rules that "expressly forbid showing disrespect toward the President"?

Can you show me the date when such rules were enacted so that I can verify that "It's been that way for a long, long time."?

I await your reply. /crickets chirping

Clyde Wynant said...

Jay -

Wilson's opponent may have raised money, but I dare say that Wilson raised his cred (amongst his South brethren) to an even higher degree with his very intentional outburst. I mean, he's the guy who shouted down the Negro! In prime time! He's a freakin' conquering hero. The opposition can run all the TV ads they want with their extra money, but Wilson will always be THAT GUY!

jaywillie said...

Conservative Moutaineer -

Did you really think I didn't have support for that claim?

From the Parliamentary Outreach Program, from the House Committee on Rules:

"The primary mission of the Parliamentary Outreach Program (POP) is to educate and advise Members, committees and staff on the rules and precedents of the House and the effective use of procedural planning to advance legislative goals."


From their summary of House Rules:

* Avoid characterizing another Member's personal intent or motives and discussing personalities.

* Refrain from speaking disrespectfully of the Speaker, other Members, the President or Vice President.

* Refrain from referring to the official conduct of other Members where such conduct is not under consideration by way of a report of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct or as a question of the privilege of the House.

Get a clue about parliamentary procedure in this country's legislative institutions.

House rules, section RULE XVII:

(b) Remarks in debate (which may include references to the Senate or its Members) shall be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality.

From John Feehery, former aid to House Speaker Dennis Hastert:

"Under House rules, you are prohibited from casting aspersions on the motivations of your colleagues. There is even a procedure for punishing those who do. You can be stripped of your right to speak for the rest of the day on the floor if your words are taken down and ruled out of order."

Are you even aware of what censure means?

From Canon's Precedents, 1909 -

"“It is... the duty of the House to require its Members in speech or debate to preserve that proper restraint which will permit the House to conduct its business in an orderly manner and without unnecessarily and unduly exciting animosity among its Members or antagonism from those other branches of the Government with which the House is correlated.”

Under section 370 of the House Rules a member may not:

* call the President a “liar.”
* call the President a “hypocrite.”
* describe the President’s veto of a bill as “cowardly.”
* charge that the President has been “intellectually dishonest.”
* refer to the President as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”
* refer to alleged “sexual misconduct on the President’s part.”

"By contrast, the rules of the House specifically provide that Jefferson’s Manual does govern the proceedings of the House where applicable (Clause 1 of Rule XXVIII). Section 370 of Jefferson’s Manual states that the rule in Parliament prohibiting Members from “speak{ing} irreverently or seditiously against the King” has been interpreted to prohibit personal references against the President. In addition, Speakers of the House have consistently reiterated, and the House has voted, to support the proposition that it is not in order in debate to engage in personalities toward the President. The Chair enforces this rule of decorum on his own initiative."

Want to guess who wrote Jefferson's Manual?


@Clyde -

I'm sure he did raise his cred with a the loony right. But he hasn't raised $200,000 off of them. And that's a lot of money for a House race. Why make your opponents job easier by making an ass of yourself?

jaywillie said...

Silly me, Conservative Mountaineer. I forgot the best one:

"The precedents of the House allow a wide latitude in criticism of the President, other executive officials, and the government itself. However, it is not permissible to use language that is personally offensive to the President, such as referring to him as a “hypocrite” or a “liar.” Similarly, it is not in order to refer to the President as “intellectually dishonest” or an action taken by the President as “cowardly.” References to the Vice President, in spite of his role as President of the Senate, are measured against the standard used for the President rather than prior standards used to govern the Senate."


Blue Number 2 said...

Damn...Conservative Mountaineer got skooled!

Conservative Mountaineer said...


Thank you for a fairly civil response.

Granted, those rules are for the House. This was not a meeting of the House, nor was it (IMHO) a true meeting of Congress. Obama's speech was a political stump speech.

I will respectfully agree to disagree on this matter because I do not accept your premise that "House rules" were or should be in effect for this speech.

Again, thank you for your reply with the facts. I respect you for that... just this time, though... :)

jaywillie said...

The rules of order apply to a joint session of Congress, which is presided over by the Speaker of the House.

Clyde Wynant said...

Rules only apply to the GOP when they want them to. Witness the dozens of "family values" freaks who've gotten caught with their pants down around their knees.

They live by the "Do as I say, not as I do" creed.

What's astounding is that these are (mostly) the religious right, the people who purport to abide by the ways of Jesus, and who nod in agreement when the preacher says, "Turn the other cheek." Yet they NEVER seem to actually take the teachings of the Bible and live them in any meaningful way.

jaywillie said...

The GOP is the party of double standards.

When millions of people protested the rush to war in Iraq, they ignored them, then cordoned them off into "free speech zones" so President Bush wouldn't be bothered by the sight of them.

Now that they've shown up and screamed at a few town halls, displayed some nice hateful, misspelled rhetoric on their signs and brought white trash etiquette into our legislative institutions, they're all about protesting.

It's like how they suddenly got religion on fiscal responsibility after 8 years of running up the debt and deficit, starting two wars they didn't even attempt to pay for, a prescription drug bill that they tried even less to pay for and tax cuts that were just handouts to the wealthy because they weren't offset with spending cuts.

Maria said...