In an angry and very audible outburst, Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, interrupted President Obama’s speech Wednesday night with a shout of “You lie!”In my live-blog of the speech, I referred to the associated outburst as "an odious spectacle. Disgusting" -- although at the time I could not make out the words. It was the loud jeering at the mere mention of the phrase "illegal immigrants" that I found disturbing. I imagine this kind of spectacle must have unfolded on the floor of the old Reichstag before the fire.
His eruption — in response to Mr. Obama’s statement that Democratic health proposals would not cover illegal immigrants — stunned members of both parties in the House chamber.
After the speech Rahm Emanuel said: “No president has ever been treated like that. Ever.”
Update 1 (Saturday)
A group of young Joe Wilson supporters (two are pictured in the photo above) were standing outside the White House when an old lady started shouting at them.
"You boys are just like the people who ruined Europe in the 1930s!" she said.
Tourists looked on bemused. These kids didn't look particularly ominous in their penny loafers. No, it wasn't the shirts that I found troubling. It was the realization that the guys in the baby blue "Joe Wilson" shirts probably had no clue about the events the old lady was referring to.
These days, ignorance about the world and its history is disconcerting.
Update 2 (Monday)
Raven (see comments) suggets that the estimate I first reported above was too low. I agree. I arrived too late to get an idea of the crowd size Saturday. Estimates of the numbers range from 3,000 (one news source) to "tens of thousands" (I saw this figure at NY Times, Department of Homeland Security, Fox News). Because I saw so few stragglers, I assumed the correct number was the lower one. But on Sunday several Obama supporters who had watched the tea party protesters march told me there were "about 15,000." They said, "metros stations were full of demonstrators Sunday." Some sources claim protesters numbered in the hundreds of thousands.