The White House has accepted an apology issued by Republican South Carolina representative Joe Wilson after the lawmaker disrupted the Wednesday night speech by President Obama to a Joint Session of Congress.
Wilson’s outburst, shouting “you lie” while President Obama addressed the issue of illegal aliens in his plan for overhauling health care, garnered almost as much, if not more attention than the speech by Obama himself. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seemed to zero in on the heckler, she later said she didn’t know who it was and said she would not move to sanction the member.
For his part, Wilson left the chamber very quickly after the speech and a short time later issued a statement. "This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill,” Wilson’s written statement said. “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." Wilson also called the White House to apologize directly to the President. Fox News confirmed Wilson ended up speaking with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
While some of his Republican colleagues might agree with the sentiment behind Wilson’s comments, many felt the President deserved to be treated with respect and the House Chamber was not the correct forum for voicing those opinions.
"Anybody who would cat-call the President of the United States addressing this body is very, very inappropriate and he will hear from a lot of us about that,” said California Representative and fellow republican Jerry Lewis in an exclusive interview with Fox News Radio.
And those on the other side of the aisle, expressed disappointment over the comment, saying they would never have gone that far with a Republican President. "It was crude and disrespectful,” said Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate Minority Whip (D-IL). “Of course we have free speech in this country and I would hope that those of us who disagreed with Republican Presidents in the past wouldn't go to that extreme."