The end-game of the House passing the Senate health care bill brought to light a new level of hatred and vitriol, encouraged and in some cases apparently perpetrated by congressional Republicans.
The first salvo came on Saturday, March 20. As Democratic congressmen John Lewis (D-GA) and Andre Carson (D-IN) emerged from a Democratic caucus meeting in the Cannon House office building, a large crowd surrounded them and several shouts of "kill the bill" and the "N-word" were heard.
A tea partier also spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo).
On Saturday afternoon a similar scenario unfolded as Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA) left a whip meeting in the Longworth House office building and made his way through a crowd of protesters, and elderly white man shouted "Barney, you faggot," as his fellow protesters erupted in laughter.
"Republican lawmakers are trying their best to show the tea party activists outside the Capitol that they're on their side," wrote Salon's Mike Madden. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind) walked through the crowd shaking hands, smiling, and thanking them. He condemned "the kind of language and statements that have been reported," but denied that the GOP shared any responsibility. "I think the American people are rising up with one voice and saying, 'Enough is enough.'"
Meanwhile Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky) and a group of Republicans borrowed a "Don't Tread on Me" flag from a tea partier, and displayed it from a balcony on the second floor of the Capitol, adjacent to the House floor.