Today on CNN Newsroom

The latest news and information from around the world. Also connect with CNN through social media. We want to hear from you.
September 13th, 2009
02:25 PM ET

Red-Hot Rhetoric

The "Tea Party" drew a huge crowd to the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 12, and generated waves of red-hot rhetoric aimed at President Obama. A Republican state leader, a liberal columnist and an author on race relations in America discuss with CNN's Don Lemon what is fueling the public outrage.


Filed under: Don Lemon
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Mike Armstrong TX.

    United we rise and devided we fall I see no unity in this health care plan.

    September 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  2. Tina

    This was by far one of the most interesting discussions I've seen this week given the fact that the "You Lie" incident pretty much absorbed all of the news discussions. Mr. Sirotta and Mr. Wise brought to the table (as they always do) issues that so many are attempting to brush under the rug.

    Race and racism in this country have always been here and will continue to be here forever as long as we, as Americans, continue to act as if it's not an issue. As a history teacher in DC and native of rural Arkansas, I can say – from experience – that it has been brushed under the rug for way too long. And it is sad to see that it took us electing a bi-racial president for the issue to become a topic of public discussion.

    You're doing great Don, keep of the good work!

    September 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Shirley

    Don,
    Your guests Wise and Sirotti were right on target. If this seems unbelievable to you, when you have some time, watch the rep. nat'l conv.Then watch Bill's commentary with G. Beck on 09/11 and the Fl.'s RNC chairman statements on your show. The statements match word for word. Since when is discussing racism disrepectful to the President? Didi you know D. Imus is going to be on Fox Business news on 10/05/09. There is definitely a racist movement being fueled by Fox. Beck is going after anyone associated with the President. He even went after Jayz because he did a benefits for 09/11 firefighters. Why would anyone do that? If you've lived through that, you know it when you see it. There is no way they can dress this up. I refused to not speak up. They will not get away with this time!

    September 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  4. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – the protests about health care are fueled by three things – legitimate fears about the future, hysterical nonsense loudly predicting highly unlikety adverse consequences, and vested interests who will lose money or their whole business if the proposed reforms are enacted. Interestingly, the reform proposals are intended to deal with the issues about which the fears are legitimate, and those fears are likley to be realized oif there is no reform at all. The vested interests have the incentive to confuse the voters into opposing what is good for them and bad for the insurers. Abraham Lincoln allegedly said, "you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." Let us hope enough people are not fooled this time so that we actually finally get real health care insurance reform.

    September 13, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  5. Ron

    This is more than just a complaint against the policies of the current adminstration. It's about who is in the white house. It is a sad state of affairs, when the racial tensions of the work place are now spilling into the streets. We as a nation need to address this issue before it every new administration the target of public discourse and accusations that stops short of out in out racism.

    September 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  6. YDDD75

    I voted for Obama and now I am saddened to be reminded everyday how much we (blacks) are hated. I really thought we were further along than we are, but the TEA party demonstations, references to Hitler, attacking every move Obama makes, Congressman public verbal attacks and people even removing their children from school has been the worst disrespect towards a President I have ever seen in American History. If Obama was white, this would not be happening to such a degree. They try to deny that racism fuels this, but look at their faces as they yell and scream, then look at photos from the time of civil rights movements and tell me are these not the same looks of hate! We have so far to go, America!

    September 13, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  7. Patrick F

    The problem here is people have no idea what they want. Obama was elected by a majority vote not to be the first black president, but under his campaign promise of change. Then over the past 6 months as he has been trying to impliment that change everyone got cold feet. The rich refuse to change because goverment control would mean they would no longer be able to rape and pillage the economy for every cent they can get. Middle class refuse change now out of a mixture of Blind Patriotism for a failing system, combined with simple fear that the changes have possible consequences that could lead to things being even worse if corruption continued under a new economic ideology. Then in the same breath that is used to shoot down plan after plan Obama tries to forward to save healthcare, the economic structure of the country, and bring our antiquated fossile fuel technoligies to the 21st century, the people scream how Obama has done nothing to fix anything. When in fact, he can't do anything to fix it because the people refuse to accept anything that would alter the decaying system as it stands simply out of fear of the very change they screamed for.
    The inevitable fact is if we continue to tell our leaders not to lead us out of a fear of possible socialism, the healthcare system, the economy, and America Will Fail. That is a fact that will not simply go away if we ignore it because we are afraid of what might happen if a new plan fails. Yes, a new plan might fail. But to repeat myself, The current plan WILL FAIL...

    September 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  8. Paul

    Reverse Racism-There is the idea floating around that people are against Health Care Reform because they are "Racist". People are also "Racist" if they don't support President Obama's initiatives. What about the minorities who simply voted for and supported President Obama because he is black? What does that make them?

    September 13, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  9. Saml

    Don Lemon is satisfied with Rep. Wilson's apology...so what. Obama, as usual, told a half truth. Illegals will end up getting government health care because their is no mechanism for enforcement in the bill. The Republicans tried to amend the, whichever of the many versions, with a clause clearly excluding illegal aliens and the Democrats voted it down.
    Most of us who oppose the President do so on the basis of his far left of center politics and agenda, his Fabian Socialist beliefs, his attempt to grow the federal government and bankrupt the country in the process, his cozy relations with ACORN and the likes of Wade Rathke and Bill Ayres, and on and on. His color has nothing to do with it.

    September 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm |
  10. Saml

    Don Lemon is not satisfied with Rep. Wilson's apology...so what. Obama, as usual, told a half truth. Illegals will end up getting government health care because their is no mechanism for enforcement in the bill. The Republicans tried to amend the bill, whichever of the many versions, with a clause clearly excluding illegal aliens and the Democrats voted it down.
    Most of us who oppose the President do so on the basis of his far left of center politics and agenda, his Fabian Socialist beliefs, his attempt to grow the federal government and bankrupt the country in the process, his cozy relations with ACORN and the likes of Wade Rathke and Bill Ayres, and on and on. His color has nothing to do with it.

    September 13, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  11. Victoria Hernandez

    Thank goodness someone (Don Lemon and CNN) have the courage to address the 'elephant in the room' in an open and forthright fashion. Very gutsy.

    The fight has been going on for years to escape from racism and of course some progress has been made. While Pr. Obama recently got a majority and became President it goes without saying that a large percentage of Americans remain racist and therefdemonstrate their anger and fear at Obama's rise to the Presidency. Racism resides amongst the Dems and Reps. The Reps. play up the fear and anger to weaken the Obama presidency – it is to be expected. The hope is that Obama will be strong enough to withstand the onslaught and stay on course.

    Being President is the greatest honor and most thankless job. The President is elected in a wave of glory and from then on is stomped upon at every turn no matter how good and honorable his leadership may be.

    God Bless Pr. Obama for wanting the job of President and let him be guided in withstanding the trials of his work. Let those of us with some compassion, vision and wish for a better future stand tall and support him.

    Go Don Lemon. Go CNN !!!

    September 13, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  12. Steve

    Don, I appreciated your evening report about the nastyness in politics. I have been a moderately conservative for many years. It would be nice if I didn't get categorized with all the other severe rightwingers in the Republican party just because I disagree with the current administration. I don't care whether the president is African-American or just American. I don't disagree with him because of that, but I do feel he has not explained well or even considered the implications of much of what his admin has proposed. thus, I feel it is my duty as a citizen to dissent (and do it politely). He is my president, even if I did not vote for him. He deserves my respect. If we disrespect the position of the presidency we denigrate what America stands for. I certainly didn't agree with everything Bush 43 did, but he deserved my respect. But, today, there no longer is any civility in politics. In part I believe this is due to our 24 hour cable news. They often report things and blow them out of proportion. When Sen. Clinton cried on TV, we heard about it for weeks. When Bush said nuclear wrong, we heard about it for 8 years. The news should report the news, but then let the people do the interpretation. It is not the role of the press to tell us the news and what we should think about it at the same time. That is not the American way. I do disagree with the President about much of what he wants to do, and it is my American right to dissent. But, it is your right to dissent the other way...but in the end, we are both Americans and this is our country and we have to respect its history, its values and its principles. When we start disrespecting these things, then our American society can not long stand.

    September 13, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  13. nancy

    Just happened to catch these interviews and guests-great passionate interviewing, Don...keep it up -I appreciate it.

    September 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  14. Leo From Atlanta

    Don,
    I want to say that it is about time that someone is talking about these people at the tea parties and the town hall meetings, and what is really driving some of the hate coming from these individuals.
    It interesting to look at many of these individuals and notice that most are middle aged white and mostly male. I am a middle aged white male and I am finding the behavior of these individuals very disturbing. Where are the young people at these so called rallies, the African Americans, the Latino Americans, the Gay Americans? They are not there because the people who are protesting are protesting the diversity that our great country is so lucky to be experiencing! The 800 pound gorilla in the room is only one thing....people who can't except the diversifying of America.

    September 13, 2009 at 8:48 pm |
  15. James of Houston

    Well, Guys, I listened to President Obama for over 48 minutes last Wednesday night, and, I’m sorry to say, I don’t know any more about his health care “plan” than we did the week before.

    He told us a lot about his “goals” and ”aspirations” for health care reform, but I heard nothing from the President about how he intends to bring these goals and aspirations to fruition!

    As we all know from life’s great experiences, it one thing to have goals and aspirations (I want to become a millionaire by the time I am 40!), but what “plan” do you have to get there and is your plan reasonable and is it realistic?

    Again, I heard a lot about the President’s goals and ambitions (or if you prefer, wants and needs!) for health care reform, but how will he bring his ideas to practical fruition and within a price range that will not further burden the taxpayers and increase in cost beyond all proportions?

    ... I was very disappointed in his speech last week to Congress, and most of all, to us, the American people!

    September 13, 2009 at 8:50 pm |
  16. WeThePeople2009

    Please keep Don Lemon’s, from CNN, dialogue going.

    Many can see that “The Tea Party Express” is a cover for those that do not accept the first African American as the 44th President of The United States of America!

    If these individuals are afraid of the deficit and the direction the Country is taking why were they silent for 8 years while President Bush swallowed President Clinton’s surplus and buried the nation in trillions of dollars in debt?

    September 13, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  17. WeThePeople2009

    Please keep Don Lemon’s, from CNN, dialogue going.

    Many can see that “The Tea Party Express” is a cover for those that do not accept the first African American as the 44th President of The United States of America!

    If these individuals are afraid of the deficit and the direction the Country is taking why were they silent for 8 years while President Bush swallowed President Clinton’s surplus and buried the nation in trillions of dollars in debt?

    September 13, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  18. Josh Askew

    I got the privilege of watching Don Lemon interview Tim Wise. At one point, Don mentioned a post referring to Joe Wilson and Obama's skin color. I would have considered the comment way off base, but Mr. Lemon thought it was a good point. It's nice to see someone who provides the news pull the race card, and sensationalize a news story. You stay classy Don Lemon.

    September 14, 2009 at 2:06 am |
  19. Marjorie

    I am saddened, but not surprised, that such a display took place by anyone in the congress who appears to be a polished professional but is not!

    Gov. Wilson has tipped his hand as to who he is and now we know who and what we are dealing with. President Obama is above the frey and will continue to strive to provide the best for the American people!!

    I am truly embarrassed for Gov. Wilson and his constiuents and hope that he realizes that he missed the lesson that was taught called 'professionalism'.

    In closing, his outburst was just a confirmation as to why the republican party is dying. That old regime is ending and they are quite angry about that. Thank you Gov. Wilson for recomfirming my opinion of the republication party.

    September 14, 2009 at 4:23 am |
  20. R B Morgan

    I resent this report. I am so sick of the race card being played every time someone disagrees with Obama. Was that brought up every time a black disagreed with Bush? This takes away from the President and America. Stories like this promotes race ism and CNN should be embarrassed by this report . America has moved past race and I think CNN needs to also. Was Kanye West being a racist at the MTV awards? I never did not hear the race card brought up about that story. CNN double standards!

    September 14, 2009 at 5:59 am |
  21. Dave Stanford

    I wonder how many of the protesters against government run health care have or will refuse to accept medicare if eligable.

    September 14, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  22. Kyle Cameron

    Don,
    For me the question isn't Mr. Wilson's outburst but is there any record of other Presidents being boo'd or heckled during a Congressional Speech? Perhaps Mr. Wilson is just following in history's foot steps.

    I believe that during George Bush's presidency some Americans didn't speak up in the numbers they are today because of the Patriot Act. I, for one, was afraid to voice a dissenting opinion for fear big brother was watching. I might be labeled a terrorist and sent to Guantanamo Bay.

    As Aways - Kyle

    September 14, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  23. Chris from Atlanta

    I am concerned about the charges made by Tim Wise on your program. I think they stifle legitimate debate because racism is something no one wants to be accused of. I don't know what is in everyone's heart and neither does Tim Wise. According to the Wikipedia notes on Van Jones, he was involved in the Rodney King-related riots and was arrested for his involvement along with many others. Though the charges were later dropped, this appearas to be formative in Van Jones history in a negative way. Yet Tim Wise asserted that Glenn Beck made this up to stir up white anxiety about Van Jones. I have many reasons to be afraid of what Van Jones wanted to do – not the least of which is that he is or recently was a communist. I really don't care that he was involved with the 1992 riots. I do care that someone who was involved with STORM and declared he was a communist could have a role in a presidential administration. To my knowledge he has not disavowed his communist beliefs, no matter that he declared them most loudly in the mid 1990's when he was "only" in his late 20's.

    September 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  24. Larry178

    Wise misrepresented the reason why Van Jones was fired or resigned as the case may be. So did Bill Maher in his piece in the Huffington rag, in exactly the same way.

    Simply put, the reason he is now gone is not based on something simplistic and easy to bad mouth to make him seem to be a victim, but rather, on a history of run away mouth and membership in or founding of, off the wall causes and organizations. In fact, he supports Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death row prisoner convicted of killing a police officer.

    He also signed on to the moonbeam cause that tries to make Bush and Cheney responsible for 9/11. He became toxic not because of what Beck and others were doing, but because of what he himself had done and said in the past.

    Oh, and for what it is worth, CNN has nothing reported on the current ACORN scandal. Guess it must not be important for the producers to want on the air. *grin*

    September 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  25. WeThePeople2009

    In response to one of the comments that was posted, what about the whites that only voted for McCain because he was white?

    I am an Independent and voted for George W. Bush for his first term, but not the second term as I do not support the war in Iraq. We were lied to – it was not Saddam Hussan that ordered the attack on the U.S. it was Osama Bin Ladan.

    In response to one of the comments posted, what about the Bush family ties with the Bin Laden family?

    Despite all of this I respected George W. Bush as my President for all of his 8 years in office...I did not join a name calling ware against him. We are all Americans and thank God for that!

    September 14, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  26. WeThePeople2009

    In response to one of the comments that was posted, what about the whites that only voted for McCain because he was white?

    I am an Independent and voted for George W. Bush for his first term, but not the second term as I do not support the war in Iraq. We were lied to – it was not Saddam Hussan that ordered the attack on the U.S. it was Osama Bin Ladan.

    In response to one of the comments posted, what about the Bush family ties with the Bin Laden family?

    Despite all of this I respected George W. Bush as my President for all of his 8 years in office…I did not join a name calling war against him. We are all Americans and thank God for that!

    September 14, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  27. James of Houston

    Here is some very worthwhile information I have "Googled" about President Obama's health care plan! ... Much to its credit, CNN has reported on this issue several times.

    When it comes to his attempts to drum up support tonight for his health-care overhaul, I wonder if the President will include in his bill the following very important issues about "tort" reform. From what Howard Dean has reported, I will be very, very surprised if he does!

    "Medical liability in Massachusetts has become an extraordinary burden on our health care system. It produces years of litigation, financial inefficiencies, a culture of secrecy and a “blame game” mentality, plus unaffordable premiums for physicians. It is dysfunctional for physicians and patients.

    Harvard School of Public Health Professor Michelle Mello has described it aptly: “For compensation, deterrence, corrective justice, efficiency and collateral effects, the system gets low or failing grades.”

    The latest indication of the system’s failings comes from a survey of Massachusetts physicians about the practice of defensive medicine: tests, imaging, referrals, consultations and hospitalizations ordered by physicians out of the fear of being sued.

    The survey is the first of its kind to quantify defensive practices across a wide spectrum and among a number of specialties, as well as the first to link such data directly with Medicare cost data. The study, conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society, found that 83 percent of physicians reported practicing defensive medicine and that an average of 18-28 percent of tests, procedures, referrals and consultations and 13 percent of hospitalizations were ordered for defensive reasons. The costs of these practices, in part, were conservatively estimated at $1.4 billion."

    But that number falls short of the real costs: the survey queried physicians in just eight specialties, accounting for only 46 percent of the physicians in the state. The estimate doesn’t include tests and procedures ordered by physicians in other specialties and it doesn’t account for observation admissions to hospitals, specialty referrals and consultations or unnecessary prescriptions.

    And this is also a very important consideration ....

    Reduced access to care, through the avoidance of high-risk procedures and high-risk patients, is another concern. The survey found that 38 percent of physicians reduced the number of high-risk services they perform and that 28 percent reduced the number of high-risk patients they serve. These findings are similar to previous studies. Over a five-year period, MMS workforce studies have found an average of 44-48 percent of physicians saying they alter or limit services due to the fear of litigation.”

    Conclusion: We need to control “medical liability” costs and reduce the expensive practice of "defensive medicine" before we go with and implement a new, “one-size-fits-all” National Health Care plan!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  28. Kyle Cameron

    In response to one of the comments that was posted "what about the whites that only voted for McCain because he was white?" I know several white people who voted for Obama and several black people who voted for McCain. My dear friend (her skin color black) reminded me that Martin Luther King said "Judge a man on the content of his character not the color of skin." My dear friend would not vote for ANY candidate that supported abortion. The color of his skin had nothing to do with her choice.

    September 15, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  29. alexlyrics

    I can't recall ever seeing so many racist comments on blogs, in town halls, in public, and all over the country. I have read more hate in these blogs.
    I have read many of Rick Sanchez's blogs. I feel bad or Rick Sanchez in these times. I have seen people ask Rick to use a dictionary; I have read blogs where Rick is told, "This is America Rick, not Mexico or south America. "

    I have heard more ignorance toward Rick Sanchez a minority CNN reporter than I care to repeat. I can only say that race is at the forefront of this countries anger.

    There are some, and not all who truly are angry at a black male being president. It took Jimmy Carter to stand up and admit it.

    I say to those who will listen, white, Black, Asian, and Latino please don't allow this to detour you from your rights to a better healthcare and lower cost affordable healthcare.

    For many centuries the same types of people have used these tactics of divide and conqueror. Dividing people such as African tribes, Native American Tribes, Hawaiian people, and then defeating them in war while they were weak.

    If we are distracted, and divided with race issues, we will be weak at the polls where our votes count the most.

    Remember we voted for change, and this is exactly the type of change we need. Obama has shown that he cannot be bought. These republicans have taken large amounts of money to support the insurance companies, and large companies who need this bill to fail in order for them to rape or pockets still.

    Obama has shown that he cannot be bought and this has angered the republican senators and congressmen. It took a black man to stand up and fight for what is right, and history will show that Obama is and will be one of our nations most successful presidents ever.

    A wise man once told me to follow the money trail, and every thing will make sense, every motive, and every action one takes or has taken. The truth will come to light in the end.

    I ask all Americans to follow the money trail of this bill and this debate, and where the money is going. Look and see why these republicans are acting in this manner, and just how much money they are being paid for their votes.
    We need campaign contribution reform. Our government is not for sale, and I think Obama said this on his campaign trail.

    Follow the money trail and don't allow conqurored and us to be divided.

    September 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  30. cathy--ny

    Pres. Obama IS Bi-racial. If everyone in the news media would stop calling him a black man, it would do more to diffuse the racial bias that surrounds him. Stop referring to him as a black Pres. Start referring to him as an American bi-racial Pres. to remind All he stands for more than one race!

    September 18, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  31. alexlyrics

    RE: CATHY NY
    I have had many bi racial friends Cathy, I am bi racial, but the problem with your comment is that people only see black. If your part black, 10% , 50% or 5% it doesn't matter, in this world and this country you are considered black.
    We need to change our level and standards of classifying people by race in order for your argument to be relevant.
    My bi racial friends are considered black by both sides of the spectrum. So lets keep it real, your color blind until your daughter or son comes home with a different race.

    September 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  32. cathy--ny

    RE:ALEXLYRICS
    I agree with your response. People only see black because The Media, in their choice of words, keep promoting it..I really believe if the Media changes the way they refer to people, it will trickle down..American Irish, American Latino, American African, American Italian, American German, American Biracial..Our standard of classification is revealed in the way we all refer to eachother and especially our selves. We can change that. So lets begin by being American first and whatever else second and insist that we be refered to that way.
    I am of Italian heritage,and look it, but I don't insist I be refered to as an Italian. I am American.

    September 18, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  33. Mike Armstrong TX.

    Racism stays alive because we have people like Jimmy Carter keeping the flam going and others trying to use racism as a cruch to exsplane away a fault or demotion the best way to get rid of racism is to be silent about it .

    September 19, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  34. John

    Since everyone involved, particularly President Obama, wants to keep race out of the discussion – why do you, CNN and others in the media insist upon ignoring & disrespecting his wishes? This is starting to sound kinda personal, Don! Or do you just need to keep milking it to fill time?

    September 19, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  35. Vikkimama

    Of course, former President Carter is hundred percent correct in pointing out what is going on. President Obama is in understandable denial, but as usual smart in down-playing this American tragedy. I do not expect him to do otherwise. He has his precious agenda to implement and would not allow unnecessary distractions to deter him.
    This President knows and understands his people. If the republicans think they can rattle or ruffle him, sorry for them.
    Media houses like CNN and Fox News should examine the practice
    of over-repetition and round-table politics. They over flog issues. Every news anchor wants to outdo the other by repeating and inviting their so-called experts to continue these boring discussions. In fact, I dread watching CNN at the weekends. It is always an over-kill of stale
    news and 'expert opinions'. And they all want to appear extra knowledgeable and unnecessarily aggressive. Lets move on, guys!

    September 20, 2009 at 6:28 pm |