Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina sure did cause a stink Wednesday evening.
Wilson was the guy who famously hollered, “You lie!” in the middle of the President’s speech about health care reform to the Joint Sessions of Congress Wednesday night. Obama was in the process of addressing a pesky falsehood about the health care bill, one stating that should the legislation pass, illegal immigrants will be offered free, government-sponsored health insurance. Mr. Wilson decided he wasn’t going to let the facts deter him, even though this particular myth has already been debunked by just about everybody.
The current legislation, in each and every version that is being debated, states unequivocally that credits for coverage will not be extended to any persons who are not legally residing in this country. According to Politifact’s Bill Adair, the bill (H.R. 3200), goes to great lengths to make sure that “illegal immigrants do not get the credits for the health care exchange that would allow them to get free care”.
How ironic that in the process of trying to tell the world that President Obama is a liar, Rep. Wilson was, himself, perpetuating one helluva whopper.
Ah, politics at its finest.
The only reason I stop short of calling Joe Wilson a liar is because I am unsure of his motives. Afterall, I have no way of knowing whether he really believes the nonsense he’s spewing. Nor do I know if he’s consciously spreading false claims, caring not the slightest about honesty and decency, all in an effort to simply keep the bill from passing.
I would argue, however, that it doesn’t matter.
The fact remains that one of South Carolina’s elected officials willfully and knowingly openly disrespected the President of the United States during a formal speech.
This was not some informal townhall gathering in local Mayberry, USA. The yahoos who lack the common decency to respect the President when he is speaking were not supposed to be in attendance Wednesday night. That the people who do not know how to temporarily hold their tongues and allow the Leader of the Free World to speak, uninterrupted, have joined the ranks as politicians- Congressional representatives, for God’s sake- is disheartening. I expect them to behave better than this, even as they oppose the subject that is being spoken of.
Representative Wilson certainly has bad manners.
Politicians, pundits, and talk show hosts alike have ample opportunity twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to express their displeasure on anything and everything. Whether that displeasure stems from the recent actions of the President, fellow politicians, celebrities or just some Joe The Plumber type guy they happened to run into one day, there are plenty of appropriate venues in which to express oneself.
This is the age of technology, after all.
Wilson could have taken his grievance public by putting thinking cap on and writing a blog. He could have written an open letter, printed in any number of news publications, to the President to voice his displeasure. He could have called just about anyone over at Fox News and been welcomed on their airwaves and into our living rooms with open arms. He could have called a press conference to discuss his issues. He could have put a scathing statement expressing his displeasure on his website. Or he could have sent out a mass e-mail telling the thousands of folks who are no doubt on his mailing list exactly how he feels.
In fact, not only could he have done all of these things, he could have done them all simultaneously.
Instead, our esteemed member of Congress, hailing from the great state of South Carolina, chose to make an ass out of himself on national television by rudely interrupting the President in a bizarre outburst that truly accomplished nothing more than making him look unhinged.
He has been forced to apologize- twice now- and while Democrats were predictably outraged by Wilson’s actions, even Republicans have soundly given him the ol’ smack upside the head for using such terrible judgment.
It doesn’t appear that his outburst had any sort of negative effect on the speech itself. In fact, early numbers show that after watching Obama speak Wednesday night, Americans are beginning to change their mind about the health care bill.
While health care support was inching up, the President’s approval ratings were doing the same- the President realized a double digit jump, even as Joe Wilson’s popularity plummeted.
In fact, Wilson’s likely opponent in 2010, Rob Miller, raised an astounding $350,000 for his campaign in less than 24 hours after Mr. Wilson’s unfortunate gaffe.
Stepping neatly into the role of victim, Joe Wilson is claiming that he is being punished for speaking out against the “critical issue of healthcare”. He is begging his supporters to send him money, and “Stand with Joe”.
Representative Wilson is not in trouble for speaking his mind. He is in trouble for his appalling lack of manners and respect. He is in trouble for lacking the self-control to keep his temper in check while the President of the United States was speaking. Most importantly, it was his own actions, his own words, his own bad timing that got him into trouble. Had he kept his mouth shut for the short time Obama was speaking, it never would have been necessary for him to apologize, or answer calls for his censure to begin with.