Pelosi Calls Health Care Critics 'Un-American'
August 10, 2009
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned the health care debate up a notch Monday, penning a column along with her top deputy that questioned the patriotism of those disrupting town hall meetings to air their complaints.
Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer claimed such behavior is "simply un-American."
It's hardly the first time Pelosi, who earlier this year accused the CIA of lying to Congress and repeatedly has called Republicans unpatriotic, has employed some serious name-calling to characterize her opponents' views.
The jab Monday drew swift scorn from Republicans and critics who say the health care demonstrations are as American as apple pie.
"I, like most Americans, would find that kind of characterization of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to be offensive," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told FOX News. "There's nothing more American than letting your elected representatives know how you feel about important issues facing the nation."
House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement calling the charge "outrageous and reprehensible."
Pelosi and Hoyer made the accusation as part of a lengthy column in USA Today stressing the need for action on health care reform. The piece was published as lawmakers return to their districts for summer recess, a period that could imperil the legislation if health care critics cause moderate Democrats to lose their stomachs for sweeping reform.
Critics have confronted lawmakers about the bills, sometimes shouting at them, at a number of town halls in the past week alone.
On Monday, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill tried a new tack in rebutting the protesters while also minimizing their complaints. She got several hands when she asked audience members at a town hall meeting to raise their hands if they're so scared about the federal government running health care that they "can't think straight."
For Pelosi and Hoyer, they charged that an "ugly campaign" is afoot to misrepresent the legislation, "disrupt" the public meetings and prevent members of Congress from "conducting a civil dialogue" on the topic.
"Let the facts be heard," they wrote. "These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views -- but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades." ...