On air: Should politicians always be civil to each other?

It’s not the policy points or the delivery that’s got you talking about President Obama’s healthcare speech. It’s those two words that Joe Wilson called out during the speech: ‘you lie’. Listen closely at 1’28 into this video.

John McCain says, “There is no place for it in that setting, or any other, and he should apologise for it immediately”. But plenty of right-wing bloggers are celebrating his actions – claiming the President’s assertions needed to be challenged regardless of protocol.

Did you think it was acceptable?

What’s the tone of political discourse in your country? Do politicians maintain the level of civility and respect that you want? Is it essential to getting things done? Or are there times when you want to see a politician expressing him or herself using direct, emotional and even rude language?

Does protocol sometiems get in the way of productive debate?

151 Responses to “On air: Should politicians always be civil to each other?”

  1. 1 Jennifer
    September 10, 2009 at 14:10

    Barack Obama did lie during his speech, many times. So many sources verify this. He is misrepresenting his “plan” and lying to the American people.

    What this man did was not appropriate but I am glad that some people have some sense to not be snowed by words that just are not true. At least SOME people are using common sense and speaking up for regular people.

    Re: Should politicians always be civil to each other?

    Lets ask Sarah Palin. Barack Obama will not even say her name.

    • 2 patti in cape coral
      September 10, 2009 at 16:23

      @ Jennifer – Which are the sources that prove Mr. Obama was lying, I would love to have a look.

    • 3 Jeff in Oregon, USA
      September 10, 2009 at 18:10

      What upsets me is media coverage of this guy’s outburst is getting more airtime than the substantive matter. Hey BBC, look over here! A shiny object!

    • 4 Keith- Ohio
      September 10, 2009 at 18:41

      Have you read the bill? I’d sooner trust our president than Sarah Palin, although one should always be skeptical of government.

    • 5 Dan
      September 10, 2009 at 18:55

      The way that Senator Wilson acted is somewhat disturbing. The fact he was not able or did not follow up to his outburst feeds fuel to the fire that our political parties are becoming more and more intolerant of each other, and the many views that are represented between them. Karl Rogers argues that intolerance of others views is the most detrimental force against advancements in society. The President was given the chamber to address the people and express his views, This is a important debate and its important to get as many views as possible, including the President.

    • September 10, 2009 at 19:25

      I would love to see it, too. As for Mrs. Palin, get real. Why should he say her name. Will he get 3 wishes if he does. Is she a genie? Djinn? What. Obama has never been uncivil to anyone, as I can remember. I’m a regular person and I still want to know what lies. I get it, you are repeating what you heard but can’t back it up with any hard evidence.

    • 7 Jacque
      September 11, 2009 at 03:06

      Why should Obama say Sarah Palin’s name? She is done being a politician and Mr. Wilson has the right to say what he wants where he wants. This is America, no one thinks it is smart, he just committed political suicide. Goodby, Joe Wilson you have just handed your seat over to Rob Miller. South Carolina is about to go blue.

    • 8 Halima
      September 11, 2009 at 07:15

      you can talk about Sarah Palin in the same paragraph where you accuse Obama of lying? that says it all. Obama has never been rude to Palin, she has managed to make a fool of herself with no help at all.
      On what basis do you claim he lies? the hype on the opposition to anything he says is unbelievable. I am afraid I have lost faith in Americans having any intelligence at all now. People who can buy what Faux News or anything from the Murdoch empire says maybe deserve the implosion of the economy that is surely coming if they do not wake up to the health care crisis and the growing gap between rich and poor.

  2. 9 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 14:12

    Um, is this only a WHYS discussion because Obama was involved? I don’t believe you did shows when Bush would be heckled or whatever. And for the love of God, you must watch Prime Minister’s Question hour, where this sort of thing goes on every single week. Because it’s obama involved it’s getting a show?

    Should politicians always be civil to each other? Please go visit Parliament in london. They have stripes on the floor that opposition members are not allowed to cross, and they were put there so they could sword fight each other, but too far to hit the other person, just close enough to hit their swords. So they used to sword fight in Parliament, yet it gets a show, and someone said “you lied” to Obama. He’s a politician, they are all liars. Even the politician who said you lied is a liar himself.

  3. 10 scmehta
    September 10, 2009 at 14:12

    The more they oppose him on this humane economic issue of health care, the more they make a fool of themselves. Besides, being uncivilized or discourteous in your behaviour/language gets you nowhere and no better ear/attention.

  4. 11 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 14:15


    If you look at the red lines in the picture on the floor of the commons, that was the line a MP couldn’t cross, so they would sword fight with each other from a distance where they couldn’t hurt each other.

  5. 12 Dennis Junior
    September 10, 2009 at 14:16

    I think that Politicans should remain civil to each other; although, they may not always agreed with the tenor of discussion…Respect each other.

    =Dennis Junior=

  6. 13 patti in cape coral
    September 10, 2009 at 14:16

    Ideally, yes, politicians should be civil toward each other, but we are all only human. I don’t trust politicians that lose control of themselves, however, because I always get a feeling in the back of my mind that it is all showmanship for their constituents, a kind of grandstanding, and not real at all. My admiration tends to go to those who keep their cool, not an easy thing to do. Whether you love him or hate him, Obama certain seems to have the knack of staying serene.

  7. 15 Dan
    September 10, 2009 at 14:26

    The outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) was unforgiveable despite that we all know that the ultimate bill or thru subsequent lawsuits will cover illegal aliens.
    There is a certain respect that one must show to the office of President and a credible case can be made that politics has been poisoned by the infighting between Democrats and Republicans and the ascendency of radical Democrats that attacked their own previous Vice Presidential choice, such that Washington DC has become a toxic cesspool filled to the brim.
    The problem is that President Obama is not in control of the process or legislation. Radical Democrats Henry Waxman and Nancy Pelosi are and while his proposal is excellent and he spoke of high ideals, the Congressional legislators are mired in toxic politics as was seen by Rep. Wilson’s outburst.
    What I fear is that this is getting increasingly worse to the detriment of America and the world.

  8. 16 Denise in Chicago
    September 10, 2009 at 14:26

    When I see politicians bickering it reminds me of children in a schoolyard and I expect better from elected officials. Wilson’s comment during the President’s speech was completely inappropriate and I am ashamed for him. There is a time and place for dissenting opinions – and this wasn’t it. His actions were disrespectful towards the President and Wilson only made himself look like a twit before the American public.

  9. September 10, 2009 at 14:26

    In the UK parliament there is a speaker to maintain order. Rude language is not acceptable in a civilised debate. I have always thought that people who use bad language or insults during debate are really losing their argument. Of course if the person is telling lies then that should be stated in those terms,but you should have to back it up with a truth. Imagine a parliament where everyone said what their baser instincts told them? Interesting, to say the least.

  10. 18 Peter Gizzi UK
    September 10, 2009 at 14:31

    I am thoroughly sick of political correctness. It is one step away from dishonesty!Call a spade a spade! if the opposition don’t like it then lump it! I think The President will easily ride over this and admire him for considering the less well off. What a pity The British Government don’t do similar.

  11. 19 Kathleen
    September 10, 2009 at 14:35

    It was rude and against Congress rules, but we do have free speech in the United State. We will vote for those who can work together to get the important work done- not for obstructionists.

  12. 20 Maccus Germanis
    September 10, 2009 at 14:49

    Substance over style. While unfortunatley playing into Obama’s well practised “serene” disdain, calling out his misrepresentations -or rather foolish forecasts – he may just believe in his own divinity- is no great breach of civility. Obama’s civility is a facade.

  13. 21 Julie Smith
    September 10, 2009 at 14:54

    Of course politicians should be civil. That should be part of their education: how to communicate authentically and respectfully when under pressure. It is especially inappropriate to shout out accusations from the Congress floor during a speech of the President. I hope that people see through such antics.

  14. 22 Steven
    September 10, 2009 at 14:56

    “There is no more civility in this country.” Joe Paterno, American gridiron football coaching legend on the Charlie Rose Show a few years ago.

    Congress only reflects the downfall of manners and courtesy in American culture. Self-absorption and rudeness are now valued traits. Many Americans don’t know how to behave anymore because the standard continues to fall. Last night, it was witnessed in prime time.

    Now the “gentleman” will do the talk show circuit and pen a book to cash in on his disrespectful behavior. Before last night, did anyone outside of South Carolina know who he was?

  15. 23 Kelsie
    September 10, 2009 at 15:02

    I love a lively, passionate, perhaps even slightly raucous political debate–at the appropriate time and place.

    Joe Wilson obviously feels passionately about the thought of health care for illegal immigrants, as do many Americans; but his heckling of the President on the floor of the House of Representatives during a nationally-televised speech was out of line with the decorum and dignity of the U.S. Congress.

    Should he be allowed to air his opinions/views/concerns? Absolutely–and we should never, ever find ourselves shutting people out of public debate simply because we do not agree with them. But he should do so in an appropriate manner and forum: town hall meetings with constituents, the committee rooms, before the press corps, &c, not during a televised presidential address.

    • 24 Chrissy in Portland
      September 10, 2009 at 18:30

      @ Kelsie

      I absolutely agree. There is a time and place for everything. I expect heated debate but in the right forum. This was not a debate. This was a televised presidential address. Did anyone scream out that Bush was a liar during any one of his presidential addresses? Not only was this disrespectful to our President, but it was also disrespectful to our processes and traditions.

  16. 25 John in Salem
    September 10, 2009 at 15:03

    Without civility we are all children screaming at each other in a schoolyard.
    Obama’s positions should be challenged – that’s how the system works – but disrespecting the president in an address to Congress is a disgusting new low in American politics.
    It should be noted that when Bush addressed Congress about going to war in Iraq no one, not even Obama, who voted against it, called him a liar despite the mountains of hard evidence and sworn testimony by the IAEA inspectors contradicting Bush’s claims.

  17. 26 tkoller
    September 10, 2009 at 15:08

    I would rather see them be themselves, not regulated. Most are civil. More often than not, a lack of civility shows an inability to function under pressure. But if they have issues, I would rather see this come out. That way we can get a more honest look at who can do their job right and get rid of the others.

  18. 27 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    September 10, 2009 at 15:09

    Reality TV-speak has no place in serious government intercourse. Even if all government wants to screw us all, it should be done with due process and in an appropriate manor. The South Carolinian who ignored protocol should be removed from his seat in government. Protocol did not come about by accident, and those who do not respect if have no place in government.

  19. September 10, 2009 at 15:09

    Many politicians from heads of states to low key politicians are known for using rude language towards one another. The famous famous was the exchange between Hugo Shavez, Venezuela president and Spanish king, Juan Carlos who asked the first to shut up when he accused former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznarof being fascist.

    In Morocco, there are cases in which politicians exchange rude language, especially in parliament. Some threaten to sue their opponents in court for defamation.

    On the whole, in many countries, politicians turn rude when there are elections. They use whatever means to defeat their opponents.

    Politicians should be direct and frank but whatever they say should be based on truth and just mere accusations. Actually, a boisterous parliamentary session is more attractive to watch than a session filled with civility, making the viewers want to have a sleep.

  20. 29 Gary Paudler
    September 10, 2009 at 15:10

    Joe Wilson’s outburst was just a little hillbilly theater; he was playing to his party’s reactionary constituents and you can bet that he’s got a hundred hours of interviews
    lined-up on right-wing radio and TV today. Civility, in general, is to be admired but cannot be a principle by itself. There absolutely should have been very loud declamations in Congress when Bush and his handlers so glibly presented their dishonest case for invading Iraq. Civility in that setting cost thousands of lives, a Taiwan Parliament-style fistfight wouldn’t have been out of line. But our political discourse in the US is so debased that Wilson will be rewarded for his completely inappropriate but carefully choreographed barking.

  21. 30 Tony from Singapura
    September 10, 2009 at 15:11

    There is a full range of possibilities for civility in the various legislative chanbers…

    Koreans (or was it the Taiwanese) have punchups.

    Paul Keating (former Prime Minister of Australia) once announced in Parliament “Every Dog returns to his own vomit” as he addressed the opposition members.

    In the UN chambers – there is a very high degree of false politeness between the August Personages attending.

    The accesptable level of civility needs to be consistent with the local culture. I would say in the USA case the incident was uncalled for.

  22. September 10, 2009 at 15:22

    The Indian parliamentary debates have seen great highs and the deepest lows. Politicians are expected to mind their tongue at least during public speeches. It is rare, though.

    Mr Wilson’s intervention is and will be in GREEN ZONE in India. Indian politicians have said things that are unacceptable at any level. Prime Ministers and Presidents do lie and other ministers lie more often. It is a fact. Mr Wilson need not be criticized for that.

  23. 32 patti in cape coral
    September 10, 2009 at 15:36

    I admit it didn’t occur to me that Mr. Obama’s civility may also be a facade, as I believe the “emotional” outbursts of the opposition to be. If everyone is lying, faking, and hiding a political agenda, I must say, the facade of civiity is the most pleasing one to my taste.

  24. September 10, 2009 at 15:40

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. If applied to politicians, it means politicians become dull in the eyes of the public if they continue looking ceremonious all the time. There is no harm if they appear in their true colours and say in public what they say in private. At least if politicians aren’t effective, they can be a source of entertainment through what they say. There will be less needs of shows like Tonight Show where artists strive to imagine what a politician might have actually said to the amusement of the public.

    What can be really rude about a politician is attacking the background of another politician concerning his/her colour, race religion or family roots or using vulgar language that is beneath what a politician should use.

  25. 34 María, Buenos Aires
    September 10, 2009 at 15:50

    Argentina can’t deny its latin blood, so the speechs are always passional and sometimes agressive. The opposition parties always accuse President Cristina of inciting public violence, generating confrontations and dividing the people in her furious and rancorous speeches. Our country is still healing from the Dirty War, and these kind of speeches open old wounds.
    No civility is mantained between politicians, specially from the Government, who demonizes opposition and gives them names: “il Padrino” (from the Kirchners to former president Duhalde), “Oligarchs and landholders” (from the Kirchners to the farmers), “Traitor of the democracy, Pilate” (from Kirchners to vice president…for a political discrepancy, our President doesnt speak to him any more!).
    Everyone calls the Kirchners “Penguins” and Cristina “Queen Cristina” for her authoritarian style and devotion to fashion.

  26. 35 Tamatoa
    September 10, 2009 at 15:53

    If anybody is interrupted while speaking, it is rude to do so. And I think that being civil with eachother is a requirement for being in a civilization. So interrupting the president when he is addressing the parliament is especially rude and against protocol.
    Nonetheless issues have to be discussed and solutions challenged. But where and when is that place? What method did polititians develop to best do their job? They found that closed sessions where representatives of the people/politicians can talk amongst eachother and let their opinions clash is a good method to develop solutions. Therefore, these sessions have to be used to offer a contradicting opinion. Are the rules for talking that further optimize this process? I think that the process works best if politicians offer their opinions with wisdom, tact and detached from their egos. So if someone says. “That’s a lie” it feels like a personal attack. It just makes it harder to stay focused because the ego is now involved which has no place in parliament. The lie might actually be a lie but it’s still not wise to say it that way. It only slows down the solution-finding-process. Of course being overly friendly slows down the process too. Passion and enthusiasm are not excluded from this process as long as they don’t slow down the discussion.

  27. September 10, 2009 at 16:04

    Manners maketh the man/woman.

    September 10, 2009 at 16:06

    This reminds me of the Presidential speeches, Every time Sarah Palin got up to say anything you can clearly hear in the background the entire population of the world cringe with embarrassment. Although that was an involuntary action I suppose.

  29. 38 Ros Atkins
    September 10, 2009 at 16:08

    Check this video of Australians MPs misbehaving

  30. 39 Steve in Boston
    September 10, 2009 at 16:11

    Jennifer is correct that for eight years the Democrats and their supporters were nothing short of incredibly hostile to the Republicans. In fact, they still are. They are now protesting the naming of a new building after Dick Cheney at the University of Wisconsin, even after he paid $3.2 million toward its construction!

    I believe WHYS did do a show when that Iraqi reporter threw his shoe at Bush, although as I recall the majority of participants here wrote that Bush deserved it.

    Democrats don’t like it when they get a taste of their own medicine. Wouldn’t it have been great to see a shoe come flying out of the audience last night, forcing Obama to duck behind his teleprompter? The great Obama, who can catch flies in mid-air, probably would have caught it and thrown it back.

    • September 10, 2009 at 20:09

      I am a democrat. I did not approve of what happened to President Bush. Frankly I wish he had thrown a howitzer back but that’s another story. By the same token, I was taught manners by my parents and if I were to meet the gentleman anywhere, no matter what I thought of his policies, I would never disrespect him. I have never called him names. I even like the man as a person. I think his wife is a great southern lady.
      He may have thrown it back. Good for him. I am waiting for him to let loose but then you’ll complain about that, too.

  31. 41 Dennis Junior
    September 10, 2009 at 16:12

    Calling the President a “LIAR” for any reason is purely unacceptable and not proper, this gentlemen needs to be called to the carpet for reprimand….

    =Dennis Junior=

    September 10, 2009 at 16:13

    In this case you should keep you trap shut until he is finished with his speech. But I would support a debate like we have in the House of Commons asking direct questions to the president would be a great tool for debate. Although I think it would have been very difficult for Pres obama’s predecessor.

  33. 43 NIck in Tacoma (U,S)
    September 10, 2009 at 16:18

    We are missing the point if all we see is Joe Wilson’s incivility. What is happening in the U.S. is the degrading of political discussion into name calling and worse. This is also seen around the world in the violence that replaces political organizing. We all have a responsibility to state clearly and objectively our beliefs. This is necessary in order to have discussions that lead to unified and peaceful actions.

    We, in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and all over the world, have largely come to a place where we have to vilify and destroy, often in physical terms, any one who disagrees with us.

    Until we grow up things will not get better. We will continue to sink our dollars into fear mongering and war instead of projects that help everyone.

  34. 44 Anthony
    September 10, 2009 at 16:18

    Lol @ Jennifer

    First off, offer a link/links to ALL these sources who state all of his lies. I think you’ll find that, unless it’s a hard right article, it’s just interpretations, if not truth.

    Second off, whats common sense about us spending 70¢ of every dollar on actual healthcare, opposed to places like Britain who uses 90% of each £ spent. What’s common sense about us spending the MOST GPD of any industrialized nation? About 5% more on average. and guess what, we don’t have the best healthcare for the average American.

    Lastly, Obama doesn’t have anything to say about Palin because she’s nothing. No one but hard right republicans take her seriously. She has compared him to a Nazi with the whole “death panel” disscussion. So what’s better, not talking about someone (who is a VERY easy target BTW), or name calling (like Nazi), or saying how she could beat him in a foot race. What is this, Grade School?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  35. 45 patti in cape coral
    September 10, 2009 at 16:21

    @ Ros – Wow, should be embarrassing to be seen behaving that way when you are an MP, but immensely entertaining from the outside, as Abdelilah says.

  36. 46 Mohammed Ali
    September 10, 2009 at 16:26

    thank God they only told him “You lie”. here in liberia, they even go to the limit of insulting the president. it is normal in politics and is nothing to make headlines. if somebody had said “you are right”, nobody would have fuss about it. wheh people lie let them be told just as when they say the true. plain and simple.

  37. 47 Anthony
    September 10, 2009 at 16:28

    @ Dan

    Really? Everyone knows it’s going to cover illegal aliens? Why don’t you do a search for it. Here’s the bill. There is ONE reference to that (sec 246):

    Click to access AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf

    And it says illegals get NOTHING!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 48 Tom K in Mpls
      September 10, 2009 at 21:43

      You need to read your links. Sec 246 refers only to ‘affordability credits’. These are used to reduce the out-of-pocket cost to low income individuals and do not in any way address the issue of treatment. Free or otherwise.

  38. 50 Anthony
    September 10, 2009 at 16:31

    @ Gary Paudler

    And theres a double standard. If people spoke out at Bush, the republican T.V. anchors called them unpatriotic. If you yell at Obama during a speech to call him a liar, then you’re a hero to these GOP T.V. folk.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  39. September 10, 2009 at 16:36

    Imagine calling out “It’s a lie!” while the Queen of England is addressing the Parliament… this is the level of disrespect shown to President Obama during his speech last night. Historically, the honor publicly shown the American President is that of royalty as well as political leader of a party… such are the idiosyncrasies of American tradition. What was done last night “in passion” jibes with the pattern of behavior shown by right wing leaders and their minions since President Obama’s inauguration… it is racism costumed in the garb of political dissension. From the people carrying guns openly in the name of “rights” to venues where Obama is speaking, to the folks who say they hope Obama fails as President, to those who pray with their congregations that Obama will die, to those who pull their kids from school rather than hear the President encourage them to study hard… every one of them is demonstrating the last ugly breath of WASPS. The depth of their lunacy is disgusting and frightening evidence of the racial condescension that some still nurse in the US.

    • 52 Michael in Ft. Myers, Florida
      September 10, 2009 at 17:19

      You are EXACTLY right! Many of these right wingers have denied any sort of racism, but here in rural Florida I have heard MANY MANY anti-Obama people openly admit that they will never trust a black man for president, not even Colin Powell. I have even heard from GAY white men that same sentiment expressed. I am sure that not everyone opposed to Obama is racist, but those who are loudest and most obnoxious about it are. I was raised to always be civil, ESPECIALLY when disagreeing with someone. Civility lends credence to one’s arguement, however I am so disgusted with Republicans that the gloves are off and I am going to throw their same behavior back in their faces to see how they like it. THAT is why I cannot be a politician, who has a duty to civility.

  40. 53 Tom D Ford
    September 10, 2009 at 16:48

    There are appropriate places for politicians to be uncivil to each other, on the house or senate floor during debates, on talk radio or TV, in town hall meetings, etc, but not during a speech.

    The Republicans had their appointed person respond in a speech after the President spoke, so they got their appropriate chance to try and debunk anything they disagreed with.

    I would like to see a British or Australian style “Question Time” in the US, where any President would have to face questions from the politicians and defend and justify what he is doing.

  41. September 10, 2009 at 16:53

    Hi everyone,
    Democracy calls for check and balance in every spectrum. Whether we accept or not, crtiticism and the true in general is usually not acceptable to everyone with open arms.
    However, it is more appropriate for the critic to be responsible and exude some level of courtesy to the person under scrutiny. Interestingly, Politicians especiall the opposition think that demonizing the incumbent work in their favor. I think this is wrong and small-minded. There should be some level of civility and mutual respect between or amongst public officials.

  42. 55 Tom D Ford
    September 10, 2009 at 16:58

    Wilson should have been frog marched out of the chamber by the Capital Police, just like any other protester.

    And he should face House Censure for breaking the House Rules.

  43. 56 Andrew in Australia
    September 10, 2009 at 17:06

    You really got to ask yourself why… and why have they shown what restraint they have to date?

    When you think about it they have contempt for most people, especially voters who give them their power and priviledge, they certainly don’t like their opponents and judging by what they get up to even less respect for themselves and their families.

    They may as well just be honest and act like the boorish oafs they are and not bother with a pretence of civility.

  44. September 10, 2009 at 17:13

    Ben here – just looking through this article, which goes through some of the language not considered civil in political settings around the world …

    A few of you have mentioned how stormy the UK parliament is – but note even there, you’re not allowed to accuse an MP of lying.

    And apparently in New Zealand, this insult was ruled ‘unparliamentary’: “His brains could revolve inside a peanut shell for a thousand years without touching the sides.”

    Should politicians be allowed to get away with that?!

  45. 58 Roseann In Houston
    September 10, 2009 at 17:15

    I have seen clips of some of the more extreme exchanges between members of parliment and other governing bodies in other countries, and I usually think “Thank goodness we don’t have to listen to that in the US!” But it looks like we are deteriorating to that point…
    What really concerns me is not so much that Mr. Wilson was rude and disrupted a national address, it is that the trend in the US seems to be “government by fear”. The citizens of the UK and Taiwan and Australia are apparently (judging by the posts here) accustomed to sorting out the insults and outburst from the substance of what their politicians are shouting. Here in the US it seems to be “government by fear”, and the far right is very accomplished at it. If you can scare the heck out of the voters you don’t need a plan for the future, to improve the country, to address voter concerns – you just need to distract the voters with fear and they will give you free reign to do as you please. They scream about Weapons of Mass Distruction, about terrorist sleeper cells poised to take over our country, about death panels and health care for illegal aliens, and Americans stop thinking logically and follow their fear. The lack of civility is bad enough but Mr. Wilson interrupted an intelligent address that asked people to think about health care just to incite fear and get people to stop thinking.

  46. September 10, 2009 at 17:31

    I don’t know what the fuss is all about. Maybe it’s because in German parliament, they do insult each other heavily on occasion. “Mit Verlaub, Sie sind ein Arschloch” (“With due respect, you are an @$$&§%€” is just one the famous/infamous phrases uttered there.
    Being rude/insulting/uncivil discredits the attacker, who’s uttering it. And the attacked demonstrates his superiority by letting it just roll off.
    btw: Obama let it roll of perfectly.

  47. September 10, 2009 at 17:31

    Here is a charasmatic President determined to lay the facts openly to citizens. Transparency is his trade-mark. There is no question of lying at all. He is willing to stake his Presidency on this critical issue. President Obama is extremely astute and very credible. The Republican who has caused the furore by saying the President ‘lied’ is trying to grab the headlines, pure and simple. If he cannot substiante his allegation he should apologise to the President.

  48. 61 Phyllis, Naples ,Fl.
    September 10, 2009 at 17:35

    Ros, I think you are an a good position to tell us, in view of the fact that heckling is the norm in Britain. Sometimes that heckling is really mean spirited.

  49. 62 Tom D Ford
    September 10, 2009 at 17:36

    World Have Your Say
    September 10, 2009 at 17:13

    “Ben here – just looking through this article, which goes through some of the language not considered civil in political settings around the world …”

    That’s a fun article, especially this:

    “It is a point of pride among some British MPs to be able to insult their opponents in the House without use of unparliamentary language. Several MPs, notably Sir Winston Churchill, have been considered masters of this game.”

  50. 63 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    September 10, 2009 at 17:46

    So the misbehaviour of one Congressman derailed the discussion of the American health care issue on WHYS.

    Shouldn’t we really be discussing why one of the richest countries in the world has so many people liable to health care lapses?

    I am an American who has lived in Europe for 26 years. 25 years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was diagnosed diabetes-free 15 years ago. But I I wanted to go back to my native California, health insurance would cost me more than I pay in rent here in Switzerland, if I could get health care, which I can’t, because diabetes is considered incurable and even though I have been diabetes free for 15 years, it’s considered a pre-existing condition even if it doesn’t exit anymore.

    For a while, I felt marooned here in my adopted country; I now plan to live the rest of my life here, in a place where health care is both affordable and rational.

    Too bad the WHYS discussion took the conservative bait and didn’t discuss the real issue.

  51. 64 T
    September 10, 2009 at 17:55

    Can you name one right-winger who can actually speak about health care reform WITHOUT using talking points and blatant lies? I can’t.

    Nobody knew who Wilson was before this. Nancy Pelosi (the Speaker of the House) won’t do anything to him. And then by next week, everyone will be saying who the hell is Joe Wilson?

  52. 65 Amy B
    September 10, 2009 at 18:04

    I’m so embarrassed… While i *love* the British parliamentary tradition of regular debate with the PM, that wasn’t the situation. In addition, it’s my understanding that even in that scenario the phrase “you lie” will have you escorted out.

    There is a time and place for everything. The opposing party is given time for a rebuttal, with IMHO they wasted (again) by not putting forth the details of their plan.

  53. September 10, 2009 at 18:06

    The Joe Wilson outburst on the floor on Congress was outrageous. Amazingly, even during the Bush years of lies about WMD, torture, warrantless spying on American citizens, CIA leaks, corruption, recession, bailouts, massive job losses and deficit spending, nobody called Bush a liar in such a way. Sure, average Americans protested Bush in the streets, but in Congress, nobody stooped to the level of Joe Wilson last night. The GOP is in disarray. Acting like a stammering child is all they have left.

  54. September 10, 2009 at 18:07

    Why is it necessarily the person shouting that’s disrespectful? Isn’t a politician who stands there lying to us the one showing more disrespect? Politeness taken too far can allow those in power to do terrible things. (And this is not a commentary on any one individual.)

  55. September 10, 2009 at 18:07

    Hey everyone, Ben here – remember we have a separate post here for you to talk about healthcare reform specifically. We’re sticking to politicians and civility on this one. Thanks!

  56. September 10, 2009 at 18:09

    There’s no excuse for this type of behavior in this setting; it’s not the place or time. If Wilson wanted to voice his opinion – no matter how wrong he was – he should have done it after the speech. BTW… Pres. Obama’s statement was in fact true.

  57. 71 Scott R
    September 10, 2009 at 18:10

    Rep Wilson is a disgrace.

    However, much more important than that is how the right wing propaganda machine continues to successfully spread (major) lies into the mainstream.

  58. 72 Manoj
    September 10, 2009 at 18:13

    In India, they are too old to differentiate between civility and incivility. So the question is moot for us. But I have seen the live telecasts of parliament sessions, which are a disgrace for us in terms of behavior. We need to do a better job of electing true representatives.

  59. 73 Jessica in NYC
    September 10, 2009 at 18:14

    Mr. Wilson behaved like a child who is trowing a tantrum for having been told it’s his bedtime. In a democracy, decent is not only necessary to keep checks and balance in place, but it is welcomed. However, Wilson’s behavior was unprofessional and disrespectful. What an embarrassment.

    The President of a democracy has earned the right to be treated with professionalism.

  60. 76 Peter
    September 10, 2009 at 18:16

    Senator Wilson’s outburst was uncouth, beyond the pale, and categorically untrue (Sarah, where ARE you checking your facts???). While it remains true that illegal immigrants will continue to receive emergency treatment (it is essentially illegal for a medical facility to refuse such), this has nothing to do with the proposals currently being considered – there are no such provisions being discussed.

    The simply point remains: decorum must be maintained in order for civil society, and democracy, to be preserved. Given the blatant and shrill partisanship being acted out by Republicans over the past eight months, and exemplified by Senator Wilson’s kindergarten-like behavior, it is clear that they no longer give top priority to the public weal, but rather their own media hype…. and illicit sexual shenanigans.

  61. September 10, 2009 at 18:16

    Ross –

    I am listening to your show on WFYI in Indianapolis. My opinion is very simple – regardless of the context (whether it is politics or sports or any other context), accusing someone of “lying” is a very TALL order.

    I am an Indian who emigrated to US in 1990 and I cannot stand the non-civil nature of the AMerican politics. President Obama is trying his best to solve major issues, and for a politician to accuse the President of lying is just a waste of time.

    We as citizens should not accept these types of comments as ‘that is just the way it is” – we need to rise above ‘petty politics’


  62. 78 Ivan D.
    September 10, 2009 at 18:16

    This was not about respect, this is about the facts. If the president was indeed lying, he should be called out on his lie. But when the President states FACTS, indeed the Congressman is not only wrong to have done this, he is in fact a liar himself.

  63. 79 Shannon in Ohio
    September 10, 2009 at 18:16

    Those who oppose health care reform here in the U.S. have pulled out all the stops because they are desperate to burn down President Obama’s house, but lack the skill to build another in its place. I have grown very weary of the loss of intelligent debate in my country. It has become the source of daily shame that all my fellow Americans should share.

    Joe wilson is a rabble rouser who is desperate to be re-elected so that he can continue to enjoy the generous government health insurance benefits he currently receives–and apparently wants no one else to have.

  64. 80 Jim
    September 10, 2009 at 18:16

    The disrespect displayed by Joe Wilson aptly demonstrates the growing disdain by the far right for the President. The tenor and the complete disrespect evidenced by those who boycotted his school address, question his citizenship, and claim he is a Muslim is a dangerous sign of a growing movement that claim he is not “their” president. This kind of radicalism is what let to the atmosphere that fostered and motivated Lee Harvey Oswald to kill JFK.

  65. 81 Alison in Utah
    September 10, 2009 at 18:17

    The President of the United States deserves a certain level of respect. America just got rid of the biggest liar in our short history, George W. Bush. Despite his many mistakes, I never recall a democratic congressperson heckling him during a nationally broadcast speech. The only reason we can’t afford to offer our citizens healthcare is because we are fighting a completely unnecessary war. If we weren’t tied down in Bush’s war atrocities, we could probably afford to insure the whole continent of Africa.

  66. 82 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 18:17

    Politics is like hockey, it’s a lot more interesting to watch if people fight. CSPAN, the network that shows congress, is normally a snorefest.

  67. 83 Mike in Seattle
    September 10, 2009 at 18:18

    In watching the speech last night the chamber of the US House felt much like the British House of Commons. I generally enjoy the “Prime Minister’s Questions” style of debate even if it gets a bit rough, but Wilson was out of line.

    This wasn’t the time nor the place. There are plenty of cameras outside waiting to hear and broadcast the opinion of any member of Congress wanting some air time.

    Sure, I raised my brow at the outburst, but I’m not particularly insulted. Wilson appologized later, and the fellow running against him in 2010 raised over $100,000 in campaign donations overnight.

  68. 84 Ray in Joplin, Missouri
    September 10, 2009 at 18:19

    While I do believe that any politician’s remarks or points of view are subject to challenge from their opponents, there is a proper way to go about it, and proper protocol must be followed. Especially when our President is addressing both the full Congress and the whole nation. If it were a setting like Prime Minister’s Questions, then such outbursts would be appropriate.

  69. 85 Jennifer
    September 10, 2009 at 18:20

    Wow, thanks for removing my post to Anthony.

    We are not a monarchy!

  70. 86 Ranter
    September 10, 2009 at 18:20

    Civility, decorum, and protocol should be preserved. Challenges (and should) can be presented in a civil manner in an appropriate way. The point of protocols is to give those who differ a framework for disagreement — without personal slander or public attacks.

    Being passionate about a cause and engaging in robust debate is a good thing. One can be civil and still be passionate. Attacking the “other side” only demonstrates the mean, small-mindededness of the attacker.

    This boob calling the US President a liar is unacceptable.

    If pundants want to make public fools of themselves by yelling and brawling, I can switch off the channel. And frequently do.

    Comparing Mr. Obama (or Mrss. Bush, or Mr Clinton, or Mr. Carter) to Madonna is strained and shows complete ignorance. There is no comparison.

  71. 87 Eric in France
    September 10, 2009 at 18:21

    Well, from republicans are used to say to the rest of the world that, if you are not with me, you are against me. So, coherence is that they act the same everywhere.

    At the end of the day, the political sphere is often mentioned as an arena. Does it matter? No. Why do we call that a debate? If you are republican in the perspective of the coming mid-term elections, you must say no. If you are democrat, you say yes. The speech was not intended to any of these two groups. The target was the independents. So, not following up on the comment demonstrate that democrats do not care about republican on that one at least.

  72. 88 Scott
    September 10, 2009 at 18:22

    I’m more offended that during the GW Bush administration, Conservatives considered it tantamount to Treason, any time someone disagreed with one of his policies, especially post 9-11. Then we moderates and liberals were lectured non-stop about the Office of the President and it’s significance and how it must be supported.

    Where is this outrage for disrespect of the Presidency? Oh yeah, they’re still looking for the birth certificate. Imagine that, Conservatives talking out of one side of their mouth, then doing something different.

  73. 89 Anthony
    September 10, 2009 at 18:24

    If he was in grade school, he would have gotten detention.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  74. 90 Robz
    September 10, 2009 at 18:24

    Being disruptive during the Presidents speach,or anyother world leaders speach is disrespectful and in poor judgement.
    If you are in a debate,one on one;then it’s o.k. to a degree.
    I’m embarassed,as a US citizen,by such behaviour showed by Mr.Wilson.
    But I guess it shows how backward my country has become and how fear has is leading to ignorance and intolerance.
    Rob in Florida.

  75. September 10, 2009 at 18:25

    I actually don’t mind politicians being called out for lying when they are lying. But in this case it was Wilson who was lying. This is the change that I think is critical for the future and it crosses all issues. Politicians lie all the time and no one calls them out. I thought It was great that Obama actually called the Republicans liars for the things they’ve been saying about the Health Care Plan.

  76. 92 Ray in Joplin, Missouri
    September 10, 2009 at 18:28

    One point of view from an American’s perspective would be that Joe Wilson is from South Carolina… the same state who elected now-disgraced governor Mark Sanford. One might call into question the amount of character required by candidates to be elected to public office in South Carolina.

  77. 93 Jesse in Kentucky
    September 10, 2009 at 18:29

    Joe Wilson’s outburst was appalling. When the President addresses Congress there is a decorum that needs to be respected regardless of how one may feel. His behavior was similar to that of a spoiled child. As it turns out there is a passage in the bill that does prohibit coverage to illigeal immigrants and so ironically it was the congressman himself who lied. However even if Obama was not truthful in his remark that is no reason to break precident in regards to the decorum that has always been followed. If the Democrats had shouted down George W Bush every time he lied to Congress there would be more jeers than applause. Shame on Mr. Wilson and his defenders! Your lack of respect is an indicator of your lack of knowledge on the issue.

  78. 94 Dennis Junior
    September 10, 2009 at 18:33

    I think that political figures in the government, should try to respect and understand each others point of view….

    =Dennis Junior=

  79. 95 john
    September 10, 2009 at 18:35

    There is only one President. And he doesn’t make laws, he suggests policies. There was no “lie”, so that makes Mr. Wilson’s comments not only petulant and childish, but hogwash. He needs to look to his collegues and not to the President.


  80. 96 ORSunshine
    September 10, 2009 at 18:37

    Why are we discussing “civility” instead of actually discussing the policy issue. Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst was the result of the Republican’s misinterpretation and skewing of one aspect of Congressional Research Service report on HR 3200 — viewable here: http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R40773_20090825.pdf

    They claim that this report proves that illegal aliens will be covered by this insurance and healthcare reform bill. This is the specific paragraph:

    “H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens participating in
    the Exchange—whether the noncitizens are legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently.”

    But allowing illegal aliens to purchase health insurance is not a big deal, is it? I can understand if people were upset that the insurance were subsidized, but the same report clearly states:

    “some individuals would be eligible for premium credits (i.e., subsidies
    based on income) toward their required purchase of health insurance. To be eligible for the premium credits under H.R. 3200, individuals must be lawfully present in a state in the United States, excluding most nonimmigrants (i.e., those in the United States for a specific purpose and a specific period of time).”


    Read here from Factcheck.org to see all the lies being spread about HR 3200:


  81. 97 Vladi
    September 10, 2009 at 18:40

    You have to understand that in the USA it is easier to disrespect a Black person (or people of color in general including women) in power than it is to disrespect a White person in power.

    For example, there has been a level of general disrespect for Obama that been building to the point where regular citizens showed up at one of his speeches armed with guns. That never would have happened under George W. Bush.

    Califoria, USA

  82. 99 HWyatt
    September 10, 2009 at 18:41

    Health care reform is so much more important then one shouted comment. So is looking at whether calling our first black president a liar, just code for bigotry? Or how about how much money Wilson has taken in from health insurance companies?

    Why focus on one rude man, and ignore the real issues. BBC I expect better of you.

    Central Oregon
    a white middle aged voter

  83. September 10, 2009 at 18:43

    What was said and done was unconscionable. There should be thoughtful and intelligent debate on this or any issue but not here in America. The president could not give a pep talk to children about staying in school without fall out, Tuesday. From the time he took office, members of the right have vilified his name. They equate him to an animal. they call his wife names on talk radio. They have questioned his citizenship and religion. They carry guns where ever he appears. Hate groups are growing because we have a black president. Lies are deliberately told or relayed by the woefully ignorant and uninformed about any of his programs with the proviso, ‘I pray he fails at everything’. It isn’t politics. It’s pure, unadulterated racism. The hatred in this country for this man and his family is a palpable thing. I have more fear for this man than another 9/11, by American bigots.

  84. 101 Eric (USA)
    September 10, 2009 at 18:43

    this tawdry episode is a syptom of the people trying to destroy Obama at all costs…. this fool Wilson can take the floor almost any time and make his points from the House lectern…….

    San francisco

  85. 102 Mike
    September 10, 2009 at 18:44

    I think it is important to note that the point at which someone felt permission to make such an unusual comment, was when it dealt with policy toward brown people.

  86. 103 Eric (USA)
    September 10, 2009 at 18:46

    I don’t recall President Bush being heckled in the U S Capitol.

  87. 104 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 18:48

    The fake smiles of Biden and Pelosi behind the President bothered me more than the shouting “you lie!”

  88. 105 Keith- Ohio
    September 10, 2009 at 18:49

    good post ORSunshine! If illegal immigrants purchase health insurance within the US, it will do nothing but help our economy! We aren’t subsidizing them at all, as is proved by ORSunshine’s very informative post.

    Right now these immigrants are going uninsured, but show up to the emergency room, where they cannot be denied treatment, and the taxpayers end up paying for them. If they buy health insurance, then the money for their treatment comes from their own pockets! This is a good thing!

    Please debate this if you disagree, because there is so much misinformation out there right now that we can’t afford.

  89. 106 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 18:49

    Have your MP guest tell the story about how MPs used to swordfight in Parliament, and that’s why the lines are drawn on the floor, so they cannot go past the lines so only the tips of their swords could come into contact.

  90. 107 Parag Deb
    September 10, 2009 at 18:49

    Hi this is Parag Deb from India (bangalore)

    It is really unfortunate to see the elected representative of people are behaving in an uncivilized manner. Even in a country like India which gloats itself for being the biggest democracy , member of parliaments most of the time behave in an unruly manner obstructing the important proceeding of the parliament , thus wasting the valuable time to discuss important issues

  91. 108 Tom D Ford
    September 10, 2009 at 18:50

    Maybe if we had a US Question Time, it would take some of the anger and heat out of the rest of our politics.

    Instead of liars like Limbaugh and the rest of that right-wing Fascisti ilk spewing their poison, the public could have their Elected Representatives challenge the President and have the President present and defend his Policies.

  92. 109 Azzy
    September 10, 2009 at 18:52

    In Canada, the Prime Minister faces a BARRAGE of criticism thrown at him on the parliament floor.
    I think it’s appropriate to question the head of state, but keeping in mind proper decorum.

  93. 110 Alison in Utah
    September 10, 2009 at 18:54


    You are so correct! Just like it’s ok to tear Nancy Pelosi to shreds, our new president has not gotten the respect he deserves. This issue of disrespect for the president is tied more closely to discrimination than the Republicans would like to admit.

  94. 111 Tracy
    September 10, 2009 at 18:54

    I was very upset as I’m trying to hear what the President had to say on this very confusing issue and it was very distracting. I felt that he was not only speaking to congress, he was explaining the healthcare issue to me. I felt that the republicans that did not stand or clap made their point much better than a rude and disrespectful outburst! An apology sent to the White House afterward did nothing to remedy the damage that the disrespect created with the public

  95. 112 Michelle from Jamaica
    September 10, 2009 at 18:55

    From our viewpoint here in Jamaica President Obama and his wife can’t sneeze without it offending someone in America. He is criticised for everyyyy thing he says. I don’t think he should be disrespected by another politician, regardless of their views, there should be a level of respect for his office. Maybe we should allow him to be president and then criticise. Shameful!!

  96. 113 EchoRose
    September 10, 2009 at 18:57

    Great show BBC! Humor & Politics! Loving it!

  97. 114 Ray in Arizona
    September 10, 2009 at 18:58

    This level of disrespect of the office of the Presidency is unprecedented in our history. Deterioration of our broadcast and cable news, balanced and impartial reporting is leading us down this dangerous path. The FCC’s repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and the subsequent vetos by Presdients Reagan and Bush of legislation reinstating fairness in reporting have led us to the point where our news and now our Congress are becoming nothing more then screaming matches and partisan propaganda.

  98. September 10, 2009 at 18:58

    I was just branded ‘you people you never look for the truth’ type by someone on Twitter for retweeting an earlier article on Rep.Joe Wilson previous racist comments

    • 116 Jennifer
      September 10, 2009 at 19:06

      Ok, how do you equate calling someone a liar with the person saying it being racist?! That is NONSENSE!!! Criticism of Obama’s health care plan is NOT because of his race.

      • 117 Will
        September 10, 2009 at 21:31

        When an argument can’t be won on merit, that is when the race card is played. The fact that it will destroy healthcare and saddle our children with unimaginable debt is irrelevant.

        The same is true when race is thrown into most illegal immigration discussions. I don’t want illegals coming to the US coming here for the sole reason of getting a free education, healthcare, etc at the expense of law-abiding residents that are picking up the bill. It doesn’t matter if they are from Mexico, Europe or Africa or their race.

        I find those that throw our these arguments are the most racist in nature.

  99. 118 Anonymous
    September 10, 2009 at 18:58

    It seems ironic to me that no where in history can you find any member of congress do what Wilson did to Obama, yet a person would be wrong to place a race factor on this. Although there are those who do not want to believe it, America’s roots are strongly tied to racism and they are long from gone.

    • 119 Jennifer
      September 10, 2009 at 19:08

      Could it be that these people are angry at being made to be bad people? They were, I believe, holding a plan they came up with? They asked the President to meet with them in May (I think it was) to discuss options and he never answered. He’s saying he is being bi-partisan but the speech he gave last night was no such thing!

      It’s time to move past race!

    • 120 Robz
      September 10, 2009 at 19:17

      I agree,since Obama’s election,alot of people are in fear of each other.
      The primary example is gun sales and ammo shortages.There is a fear that a colpase in the government is comming or socialism is on the way and that will mean a loss of freedom.
      Fear is growing and the fire is being stoked by the religious right and the extreme right which is racist in the US.
      Rob in Florida.

    September 10, 2009 at 19:01

    I think politicians should use a dose of civil manners when talking in forums whose message is channeled to their citizens. It is rare even in the third world for such language to be used because it has a price tag against the speaker(s). Having said that, America should realize that total freedom is at times worse than tyranny and it can adversely affect the functioning of a state. America is moving towards that stage with this kind of ‘workman’s’ kind of politics’ by believing that everyone should regulated themselves. Enough of that has been said already in other quarters.

    America is not the property of the Democratic or Republican party hawks but for the people of America. It is up to the people to intervene and defend the respect of their country. Luckily, this is going to happen given the sentiments that I have seen posted on this blog. The splits along party lines which are the genesis of this ignorance can be made to converge for the common good of the state and its people.

  101. 122 Nathan
    September 10, 2009 at 19:04

    I find that my gut gives me a rather unpleasant reaction to the outburst during Obama’s speech. After a little soul-searching, however, I reminded myself that Wilson’s demonstration of disapproval, while seemingly rude, is an exercise of freedom that is very important in our political system. As much as I disapprove of his outburst, I am glad he did.

    That said, if it turns out that he is in every way wrong in his accusation he will have made a complete ass of himself. If there is any legitimate reason for him to believe Obama’s statement to be a lie, then he has made a strong point and I commend him for it–regardless of how distasteful I thought it was.

    • September 10, 2009 at 19:30

      it’s the same illegal immigrant lie that has been going on since talks began. Before Obama, even. The same lie that is floating around that he is going to give Medicare to illegal immigrants and you would not believe how many people believe that one. If one is a lie, why not the other? If you can get the coverage, you are no longer illegal, you are deported. They can find them. They will know where they are at any time. Any form you fill out, questionnaire, application, there is US citizen, naturalized, legal alien. If you cannot check one, you can’t get benefits. Does no ones brain works. This lie was told about Mass. health plan and the governor had to tell the audience, on this same channel, it was not true. They had a fund which had been discontinued because of the economy for legal aliens and never covered the illegals. Kinda made him angry, too.

  102. 124 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 19:11

    @ Jennifer

    I think they were referring to race as in hispanics, as they constitute most illegal immigrants, and that is when the “you lie” comment was made when Obama said that it wouldn’t cover illegal immigrants.

  103. 125 Tiffany
    September 10, 2009 at 19:14

    I think it is great that someone spoke up. I realize the point being made wasn’t an untruth, but there were plenty of lies in the speech. The reason Obama did not stop speaking is because he is incapable of putting together a coherent thought without the aid of the all important teleprompter. Perhaps Congress and the Pres would be more careful to make accurate statements if they knew they would be challenged on the spot for any lies to pass their lips.

  104. September 10, 2009 at 19:16

    Okay, as a black 60 year old woman, I’ll move past it when you do. We thought we had until all the hatred came out. It never ceases to amaze me, you create the problem, throw it in our faces and then tell us to get over it. Black people did not carry guns around Bush. We did not go to anything he had and call him unamerican. We did not equate his wife with the B* word on RADIO. We have never disrepected any of the presidents as this one has been by you. The final straw was the ‘pep’ speech to students. White people were crying, gnashing of teeth, wringing of hands, not wanting to have their children indoctrinated by him. Telling kids to stay in school. PERIOD!!!! One teacher would not show the speech because he was black. She admitted she would have if he had been white. I can’t get past it. Your erected walls are too high.

  105. 128 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 19:27

    @ Joane Johnson, you do realize that the person who carried the gun to the event that Obama was in Arizona for was black, did you?

    • 129 Jennifer
      September 10, 2009 at 19:33

      This is correct!!

    • September 10, 2009 at 19:34

      I do not care what his color. The fact that someone can do it is scary. My point is, if it had been one of the others, would they have been allowed to? I, for one, think not. Not since Reagan. I know the man was black, his picture was everywhere. Yet, the one interviewed on CNN was white. Begs the answer, how many possible nut jobs are out there. This country has a bad reputation when it comes to leaders. 4 presidents. Civil rights leaders. Candidates. 2 attempted presidential murders.

      • 131 Roseann In Houston
        September 10, 2009 at 23:46

        I agree with Joane – if a person of any color had shown up at a Bush appearance WEARING A T-SHIRT THAT OPPOSED THE WAR that person was arrested! For wearing a T-shirt!
        BTW – I am a white 53 year old woman, and the reaction to Obama’s speech to school kids was so clearly and obviously racist that I am stunned that anyone would try to deny it.

  106. September 10, 2009 at 19:28

    Its important that we expect our politicians to behaviour with a little bit of respect. Children could be watching too. I believe that the english word for that will be “DECORUM”. Americans should realise that the Mr Barak Obama is their President. the man behaved disrespectfully. Some people think they have to be rude to put their points across.

  107. 133 Bert - USA
    September 10, 2009 at 19:30

    As someone who did not mind the shoe-throwing-at-Bush incident, no, I can’t say I’m indignant about this one. As a matter of fact, there has been plenty of lying and scare-mongering on both sides.

    I think that manufacturing a race-related issue out of this is pure hubris. More than the lone example of bad bahavior in the chamber, I’m offended by the ridiculous pop-star cheering and adulation we’re still seeing.

    I voted for Obama too, but not because I venerate the very gorund he walks on. For heaven’s sake, he’s supposed to be our REPRESENTATIVE. Not our messiah. I find the exaggerated cheering to be unbecoming and certainly uncalled for.

    • September 10, 2009 at 19:38

      I believe exaggerated cheering for anyone us unbecoming. I consider it annoying. I voted for Obama, too. I don’t like entertainers who want me to ‘waive my hands in the air’, either.
      My conclusions do not come from one incident. Icomes from many and they add up. If you haven’t seen them, fine. I have seen, heard and been ‘talked at’ too may times not see it. I’m like Sotomayor. I guess you have to walk in my shoes for a while.

  108. September 10, 2009 at 19:46

    Ben here: Another reminder guys – the question we’re looking at is this one: “Should politicians always be civil to each other?” Some of your posts aren’t addressing that question. Thanks.

    • September 10, 2009 at 21:59

      to expect politeness all the time is to ask for a degree of control which removes much of the emotion we need in those who have the power to shape our lives.however there is a need for people to express views which are controversial to the other person involved in an exchange without fear of vile abuse or bullying.it is a balancing act and one where losing ones temper with an opponent is a sure sign either of a weak argument or a suspect temprament neither of which are suitable for someone holding high office.alas we get the politicions we have voted in so perhaps we need to evaluate individual MP’s more closely before voting for themalso this is all the more reason for having a TV debate for the forthcoming british election.

  109. 137 kpellyhezekiah
    September 10, 2009 at 19:59

    empty barrels make the most noise. I don’t see the reason why people let their emotions(anger, excitement etc) overcome them when they are debating. If it is a good thing for husbands and wives to be shouting and even fighting each other with blows just because they disagree with each other in front of their children then let our politicians continue to do that in our parliaments. I have over the years observed that it is mostly when they lack substance in their points and know that they are losing the argument that most of them resort to these theatrical antics.

    • September 10, 2009 at 20:24

      It is the nature of the beast. My late father and i ‘debated’ many things from the Bible to education. My late husband and i would sit up after the kids were in bed and debate about civil rights, sports, especially the Browns(he was a Steelers fan like our son). We never argued in front of the children. My parents never did, either. Debate, or civilized discourse, does not lead to blows. It could lead to a nice cold bourbon manhatten with vermouth on the rocks, though, and a friend for life. One who would agree to disagree but never disrespect.

  110. 139 raymond linafelter
    September 10, 2009 at 20:07

    Ben to answer your question, yes. What is going to be gained by a lack of civility? All it accomplishes is inciting anger and clouding the issues. What Wilson did last night was shameful, just as when Harry Reid called Bush an “idiot”.

  111. 140 Will
    September 10, 2009 at 20:49

    After entering the ‘home’ of Congress, President Obama started off his speech by calling those member of Congress that opposed his socialist agenda as liars. He indicated that they were intentionally misrepresenting the facts. Who cast the first stone?

    After a number of ‘misrepresentations’ of the proposed legislation, Wilson had enough. Obama came into his house, called him a liar, and proceeded to lie to the citizens that Wilson took an oath to represent. It’s a bit overwhelming, but check out the proposed legislation itself to confirm the truth of Obama’s claims. Don’t take my word for it or his.

    As far as wanting both parties to have civil discussions, the majority party (Democrats) have excluded the Republicans from most discussions since April and are holding closed ‘town halls’ that exclude those opposing their perspective. So much for civil discussion.

    • September 11, 2009 at 13:09

      HIS house? It belongs to Americans, they just use it, first of all. I have read it. I downloaded the thing, all 1,000 pages and guess what I can read and it isnt there. it is an out and out lie. What the president did was react to all the negative lies out there. All the lies, half truths, enuendos thrown out by all against the proposal. He has never said anything before, now he did. he should have all along. They have lied about everything. His citizenship. His religion. His so called affiliation with terrorist organizations and now I am to believe you. The republicans were never excluded except by themselves. They would not meet with him because the right wingers told them not to. They fear them, like the leader of the rnc fears Rush Limbaugh. The credibility of most is non existent. If they were to say the sky is blue on a perfect day, I would no longer believe them. I read, also. I listen. That is a oxymoron, too. Closed town hall meeting. Ain’t no such animal.

    • 142 Halima
      September 11, 2009 at 19:31

      I listened to the speech and I did not hear him call ANYONE a liar. I did here him say that certain things which have been said were lies. That is different. And yes, there have been SO many lies told about Obama about the health plan, about all sorts of thngs. Is that what you mean?

  112. 143 Elias
    September 10, 2009 at 22:30

    Everyone should be civil to each other including politicians. If a politician disagrees with another, thats fine he can simply state why he does, if he is to make a valid point.

  113. 144 Alan in Arizona
    September 10, 2009 at 23:39

    Same show! Different Dog and Pony on the stage. Unfortunately it’s the
    idiots in Congress and their Lobbyist controllers that make the
    decisions. Obviously it was staged to degrade the speech and the people working hard to get things done. You never know, maybe it’s C-Span asking for more action so our Congress will be entertaining like
    watching The British House of Lords.

    Alan in Arizona

  114. 145 T
    September 11, 2009 at 01:18

    They’re overpaid, do very little work. And spend most of their time raising money to try and get elected again. Despite all of that, yes they should be civil.

    In this case though, nothing will happen to Wilson. And by next week, nobody will have any clue who he is.

  115. 146 Tan Boon Tee
    September 11, 2009 at 03:25

    On paper, it sounds good to be civil.

    In reality, how often is civility being practised, by lawmakers/politicians or otherwise?

    Just look at the ugly parliament sessions in many of the so-called democratic countries.

  116. 147 Sergio Ravanini
    September 11, 2009 at 09:11

    They should always be polite, respectful, urbane although the political passion that is often present in pols may sometimes create some problems which should be kept at bay if it is true as it is that any political activity should tend to strike honorable, effective compromises, which are obviously based on reason and love for your country, not emotion. As I live in Italy, it’s quite easy to see how all this is noticeably lacking, first of all because of our PM divisive approach to nearly any political or even private situation.

  117. 148 Hestor
    September 11, 2009 at 12:41

    Problem with abusive words and uncivilized behaviour in Parliament is that it undermines the authority of the democratic institution as a whole. That’s why MP’s, and especially the president of the chamber, should uphold civility in the debate.

    (not that this is the case in my country: ever since the right wing extremist Geert Wilders entered the parliament calling each other names has become quite normal in the Dutch second chamber. And muslims and Maroccans in particular can be insulted all the time… unfortunately)

  118. 149 Veganbyproxy
    September 11, 2009 at 16:58

    Heckling is ill-mannered and in poor taste. It is never appropriate in any arena, large or small. There are so many ways to properly present an argument via web, video, news, etc. To me, heckling seems like a desperate attempt for attention more than a way to convey a point.

  119. 150 David
    September 11, 2009 at 19:13

    Let us reason here. We all know that Obama is a geniue, a first class politician, who is not afraid of giving America and the world a fair go.

    In my view and I believe in the views of many proper thinking people, health is central to every thing else. How did you feel when you lost your loving partner, father, mother, brother, sister, friend from some disease or some thing preventable?

    Now for any one to oppose a healthy bill, I do not get it. Jealousy is the only thing I see here. I think the oppossing side are asking the following question “How come this president has come up with a brilliant ideas but not from our side”? “We will oppose it, We will oppose it by all means”.

    • 151 D.J.
      September 11, 2009 at 20:32

      Dear David, I’m a Democrat, not stupid, not rich, I have more medical problems than any human deserves, my husband has no insurance, but we still oppose the Health Car Bill that President Obama is proposing. It’s because it is the wrong bill, I read the whole bill, some parts were good, some were downright terrible. The terrible parts out weigh the good, then came the part that is not clear in the Bill is how we are to pay for the Health Care Bill, I have a good friend that is a Lawyer, and I had her read & interpret the parts of the bill that troubled me(especially the monetary part since that is her specialty) and she said that the figures did not add up, to many unknowns. This country is in so much dept now I think we should be taking care of the huge deficit then we should pass a much need Health Care Bill & for your information I watch Cspan almost everyday & I know Obama says he has an open door policy but he will not see the Republicans about the Health Care issue nor will the Democratic Congress. The Rep’s even wrote Obama a letter requesting a meeting with him for the middle of August & he did not even acknowledge their request. The gang of 6 Democrats wrote this Bill. The Republicans did offer their venison of a Health Care Bill & to this Democrat it sounded much Better than the gang of 6’s venison and did not put us in the poor house, but the Dem’s voted it down. I cannot count the times that the Rep’s offered up reasonable ideas to enhance the Dem’s bill and each time it was voted down. by the Dem’s. Now you can see why I no longer trust any Politician or respect any of them. DJ

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