Obama heckler refuses to apologise
15 September, 2009
WASHINGTON: The lawmaker who shouted “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress said on Sunday that moves to censure him were politically motivated and vowed not to make a further apology.
Republican Congressman Joe Wilson has already apologized to the president — and had that apology accepted — but still faces a reprimand if he fails to stand up publicly before his peers in the House of Representatives and do so again.
“I am not going to apologize again. I apologized to the president on Wednesday night,” Wilson told Fox News. “People know my civility, they know that this was a one-time event and was out of frustration.”
Leaders of the Democrat-led House have threatened to rebuke Wilson if he fails to issue a formal apology on the chamber floor, saying his outburst during Wednesday’s keynote Obama speech on health care reform was a shocking breach of decorum.
A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said members of Congress would look to pursue a motion of disapproval — a less harsh reprimand than a formal censure — now that Wilson had made his position absolutely clear.
“Obviously what he said on Fox News was quite clear. Early in the coming week will be a leadership discussion and then there will be an announcement,” spokesman Drew Hammill told AFP.
Obama, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” program aired on Sunday, reiterated his acceptance of Wilson’s apology and said pursuing further measures would be counter-productive. “It just becomes a big circus instead of us focusing on health care,” he said. Obama also lamented “a coarsening of our political dialogue” and said: “In the era of 24-hour cable news cycles... the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention.”