Earlier today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) published an op-ed in USA Today condemning the “ugly campaign” this August “to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue” on health care reform. “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” wrote the two House leaders.
“Each public forum should give every participant the opportunity to express their views, but to label Americans who are expressing vocal opposition to the Democrats’ plan “un-American” is outrageous and reprehensible,” Boehner said in a statement. “…It’s time for Democrats to start listening. When we return to Washington in September, Democrats should scrap their costly plan and finally work on bipartisan reforms that give Americans what they are seeking: better access to affordable care.”
But Boehner hasn’t always been so supportive of Americans “expressing vocal opposition” to government policies. In fact, in 1995, he told The New Republic that he thought protests against the Vietnam War were “un-American”:
In 1969 he took a hiatus from college and enlisted in the Navy. “I didn’t know enough about the intricacies of why we were there, but the fact is we were in Vietnam, and I wanted us to win,” he says. “The people with long hair who were protesting against the war I thought were un-American at the time.” His duty to country would keep him away just six weeks. While driving a heavy equipment truck, Boehner aggravated a high school sports injury. “I was in Mississippi four days, five days, cleaning up the mess from hurricane Camille when my back went out. A disk. They did all these examinations and said, You’re outta here.’” He returned to work and school. By the time he graduated in 1977, he was part owner of a plastics and packaging business. [The New Republic, 2/20/1995]
In more recent years, Boehner hasn’t shied away from using the rhetoric of labeling that with which he disagrees as “un-American.” In a speech on the House floor earlier this year, Boehner called the estate tax “un-American.”
As Media Matters has pointed out, Pelosi and Hoyer never actually called health reform opponents “un-American.” They claimed that the tactic of “drowning out opposing views” was. Boehner, on the other hand, once explicitly called Americans who disagreed on policy “un-American.”