'F*** the President' From Democrat Ignored, But GOP's 'You Lie!' Excoriated

Up high in his Monday "Political Memo," "Out of Power Soon, and Out of Sorts Now," congressional reporter Carl Hulse revealed that "Vulgar words were aimed at President Obama" during a closed-door meeting of Democratic House members, a fact initially reported by Roll Call.

To be precise, the words were "F*** the President."

Hulse didn't make an attempt at creative elucidation to get around the Times' ban on obscene words the way culture reporter Dave Itzkoff did in a December 11 interview of "raunchy rocker" Peaches: "The title of her biggest dance-floor hit cannot be printed here, but it endorses sex as an analgesic."

Hulse also dropped his previous concern for political decorum regarding attacks by congressmen on President Obama. He took offense when Republican Rep. Joe Miller shouted "You lie!" during the State of the Union on September 9, 2009, after Obama had made a dubious claim about the status of health coverage for illegals under his health care proposal.

Here's Hulse on Monday, dealing with the "F*** the President" in a single seven-word sentence that didn't cast blame for the outburst on a lack of civility by Democrats.

As House Democrats met privately to weigh the tax deal negotiated by the White House, an angry chant spontaneously rolled across the room.

"Just say no, just say no," rebellious lawmakers cried. Vulgar words were aimed at President Obama. Incensed members spoiled for a fight.

The fury coursing through the meeting last Thursday in the basement of the Capitol was just the latest manifestation of the foul mood of House and Senate Democrats as they suffer through the final days of the 111th Congress, watching their power ebb while scores of them cast their last votes.

Many are having difficulty adjusting to their abruptly changed circumstances just two years after a triumphant inauguration of a new president who sealed Democratic hegemony over Washington. Deepening the wound is the fact that Democrats are still in charge, yet the White House struck its tax deal mainly with Senate Republicans.

By contrast, after Republican Rep. Miller shouted at Obama, Hulse spluttered:

It was a rare breach of the protocol that governs ritualistic events in the Capitol.

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!"

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.

Democrats said it showed lack of respect for the office of the presidency and was reminiscent of Republican disruptions at recent public forums on health care.

One could argue that the "You lie!" and "F** the President" incidents aren't perfectly parallel - a live presidential address to Congress compared with an unrecorded vulgarity in a less formal setting. Yet a similar exchange between then Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy received wide coverage in the Times and elsewhere.