Saturday, September 12, 2009

What Republicans Don't Get About the Joe Wilson Meltdown

It the wake of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's very public, very disconcerting hissy-fit during President Obama's health-care-reform address to Congress Wednesday night, only one point matters: the requirement for protocol, decorum and respect for the office of the United States Presidency. Yes, this is America, and yes, as little kids like to often declare, "It's a free country, and I can say what I want!"

But that's just it. Little kids get to do that, not U.S. Congressmen in the hallowed halls of the House Chamber. That's just plain wrong and unacceptable, no matter what political party you belong to. And for Republicans and conservative talk-show hosts to now be waving the Joe Wilson flag as if it's some respectable badge of honor, portraying him as a patriotic hero and using his embarrassing case of political Tourettes as a rallying cry for the GOP, is truly despicable and a stain on America. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Take a quick listen to the right-wing media Axis-of-Evil, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and you'll get the typically shameless rhetoric about how Wilson was doing his patriotic duty to speak up and yell "You Lie!" after Obama said it was a lie to claim that his health care reform bill would provide coverage for illegal aliens. At that moment, Rep. Wilson just couldn't contain himself, blurting out his colossal diss like a petulant child. And now he has influential talking-heads like Hannity coming to his defense and taking up his 2010 re-election cause, featuring prominent links to the incumbent's website on

This is the same Hannity who is greeted by and greets his callers with the nauseatingly cultish "You're a great American!" Does being a great American mean shouting down the U.S. president during an address to Congress? Does being a great American mean supporting people who show blatant disrespect and disdain for the office of the presidency, the sanctity of the U.S. House Chamber, and the political protocols that have been respected since the birth of our nation? This makes you a great American? A patriot? A hero? This is someone who deserves conservatives' overwhelming support?

Since Thursday, Hannity and others have helped the now-vulnerable Wilson raise upwards of a million bucks so far for his upcoming battle against Democrat Rob Miller in South Carolina's historically Republican-safe 2nd Congressional District. Polls now even show Miller leading Wilson by a point, with 62% of voters disapproving of Wilson's outburst. Democrats need to mobilize and aggressively support Miller now. His website is (click here to donate the dollars he's going to need to beat Wilson).

The issue is this: Rep. Wilson is not some civilian who shouted his dissent at a truck stop rally. His words were not part of an interview on tv, radio or in the print media. He was not giving a rousing speech to constituents. He was not at a fiery town hall meeting. He was in a holy place to politicians; their equivalent of a church or a temple. His therefore blasphemous remark was truly unconscionable and deserves unified rebuking by those on the right and a Congressional reprimand or censure, as Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has suggested. House Democrats also intend to initiate a formal resolution chastising Wilson. A very important lesson needs to be made here.

I'm sorry, but some things are just not political. And we all need to be rational about it. I would just as soon excoriate a Democrat as I would Rep. Wilson if that Democrat committed the same reprehensible outburst. And if we as Americans cannot at some point lay down the partisan swords and at least agree that some behavior is simply irresponsible and unacceptable, then we are left with nothing. Then a very important line will have been crossed from which there'll be no return. Civility in politics, what little we know of it in the current climate, will be lost forever.

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Unknown said...

And the point that seems to get lost in this whole thing is:

Rep. Joe Wilson was WRONG!

Today in American, if anyone legal or illegally here who checks into an emergency room is given care. There is nothing in anyone's plan anywhere to "expand" upon that.

If that upsets you, then work to change the CURRENT system (but you're a compassion-less asshole and I hope you get sick in a foreign country.)

Rep. Joe Wilson HAD to shout out because our Commander-in-Chief was nullifying months and months of his, and the GOP media machine's, pack-of-lies campaign against health insurance reform.

Repeating: Joe Wilson is WRONG.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing but distain for Republicans. But why don't the Dems act like they are in charge?

We won. Move forward. All I feel is frustration at how the Dems have let this get out of hand.

They need to get on with it. The Repubs do not matter. Many of their supporters want to wage war again our country. I call that treason.

Realist said...

There is one more reason Joe Wilson is a cad and a bounder. He is a reserve Colonel, and as such is honor-bound to honor and respect the Commander in Chief.

Unknown said...

Dems didn't hold much regard for the Office of the Presidency in 2005:

Anonymous said...

Do you agree that it was wrong for Democratic lawmakers to "boo" President Bush during his State of the Union speeches too?

Cecelia said...

The last Pres. Bush was booed and hissed during a State of the Union speech and Dick Nixon was treated to the same during a Joint Session.

It was boorish for Wilson to have yelled out like that, but I think it was boorish too for the president to have pointed at "prominent politicians" as being liars.

He didn't have to go THERE.

Neither did Wilson, but it worth remarking upon that it caused a Democratic congress to voice their intentions to give the "hows" behind the assurances that the plan will not cover undocumented workers.

It not only opened up the discussion on how it will be feasible to not cover them, it's beginning to make clear how this whole area is underpinned by presumptions about immigration reform.

The more people understand what drives this thing, the better choices they can make as consumers and as voters.

Anonymous said...

I have been teaching elementary music for 37 years. I was talking to my students about respect and good manners the other day and I realized what a bad expample this congressman has shown our nation's students!

Athena Smith said...

In this march in Washington DC today I saw the placard "BURY OBAMACARE WITH KENNEDY."

Wherever you go on this planet, from the most developped nations to Third world countries, you will find this universal: Respect for the dead.

Hard to believe that the Republican party came to be represented by the likes of Palin, Wilson, parents not wanting their kids being exposed to a speech on education, fringes calling the elected president a communist, a Nazi, a fascist...(the ignorance they exhibit by lumping these terms together!!)

Of course they are kissing the next elections goodbye as the center can not stomach this decadence.

Cecelia said...

Well what do you know, the White House has decided to back a proposal that immigrants must prove that they are here legally when accessing health care under the Obama plan.

This is a provision that the Democrats had struck down TWICE.

MSNBC writes, "Here, the administration also concedes that hospitals would be compensated with public funds for the care of undocumented immigrants."

Thank you, Joe Wilson, that we can get, at the very least, to this level of reality in the discussion, despite all the RELENTLESS drama of Democrats nearly setting themselves on fire in outrage over all the "lies".


Anonymous said...

Don't we Dems wish one of us had screamed "You lie" when hearing about the WMDs?

Illegal immigrants will be able to "slip by" and get the proposed healtcare coverage because asking anyone who applies "are you a legal immigrant" is not allowed and no proof of citizenship is required.

Anonymous said...

Joe Wilson was extremely ill-mannered. However, the line about "respect for the office of the president" is just wrong, regardless of the person in the office or the party he represents. The president is a public SERVANT, and deserves no more or less respect than any other servant. The "respect" line is an outgrowth of the imperial presidency, an office which has long since exceeded all reasonable bounds and badly needs to be cut down to size. If that cutting involves disrespect, then disrespect is good.

Athena Smith said...

What you don't understand is that under emergency situations all hospitals in all western countries accept EVERYONE for care. That's right. They don't let you die on the street if you have been ht by a truck. Sometimes this "bill" is eventually paid for by the state. Sometimes not. Thus many hospitals have outstanding disagreements with local governments concerning such debts. But this has been happening in the US for decades and it has been happening all over the world.

This is not coverage. This is emergency treatment of anyone. Western civilization was based on that premise ... they call it compassion.

However, this does not mean that an illegal immigrant can get insurance for the simple reason that when you buy into a plan you have to show SSN and a photo ID. I know I had to. As I have to show ID everytime I go to a doctor's. He won't accept photocopy of either my driver's licence or my coverage ID. So what the Anonymous wrote (that ID is not required,) was PLAIN WRONG.

Can an illegal immigrant have a SSN? Yes, if he was legal,his visa has expired and he has not renewed it. However, coordination between INS, DHS and SS Office usually identifies these individuals. So if he ever applied to get health insurance (don't forget that he would have to pay for it and that is not subsidized by the state)his application could not be processed.

For people that always have been illegal, there is no SSN, and thus they could never buy into any plan. And getting a SSN requires two proofs of citizenship or legal residency (none of which can be in a photocopy form). Recently I had to apply for a new card for my SSN and the paperwork had to be verified by two people in the SS Office one of whom had to be a supervisor.

There is lots of confusion out there about illegals because we already have community clinics (some funded by the state, some by private donations) that cater to them and people tend to generalize this... but these clinics are very few in the country and have existed for years.

Anonymous said...

If this is so bad for the Repubs (and I sure hope it is), why is it predicted that the Dems will lose a a large number of seats in the House?

I don't get it.

Cecelia said...

Athena Smith,

It's a little more complex than that.

There are states where a drivers license is all the documentation you need, and in a system where govt reimbursement for health care may end up being handled by existing insurance companies and/or managed care organizations, that's significant.

I have no problem with undocumented workers receiving emergency care. However, conditions that send one to the ER, often don't stop there. What sort of checks and balances will there be for keep illegals from being floated into a broadened govt payer system, after ER visits have resulted in hospital admissions or the need subsequent care (say...the need for kidney dialysis)?

Before Mr. Wilson's outburst, we could chalk questions like this as being an off-limits scare tactic that immediately got you dismissed as being a sort of domestic terrorist for having the temerity to ask it in the first place.

Frankly, it's illegal for undocumented workers to be here now. Existing law regarding this issue, is often not enforced now.

That many of the concerns surrounding the issue of illegals and a widened govt payer system (that seems to be heading towards being a system managed by an existing managed care structure) are answered by what are essentially cases for immigration reform (I'm not suggest you've done that here)only begs the question that extrapolations about the ultimate vision are rational responses, indeed.

Athena Smith said...

It is unclear what you are saying. Documentation for what? To open a bank account or buy into a plan or something else? To open a bank account you need a SSN and two forms of photo IDs. For employment you need one photo ID and a SSN. For which activities do you only need a driver's licence?

If what you are saying is that in some states (like Connecticut), an illegal immigrant who holds a driver's licence especially issued for illegal aliens can buy into a plan without a SSN, please let me know and I will try to verify this through a local insurance company.

The fact that the illegals should not be here is another topic. I am really interested in finding out whether one can buy into a plan without a legit SSN.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I was perplexed as to which way to lean regarding Wilson's outburst.

As I mulled it over in my head, I realized that Wilson's outbursts was not the first time during the presidential address that I was provoked to thought.

Accepting that the Presidency is unique and the office due the highest level of respect, I was astounded that President Obama could come into the "house" of the Congress and basically call a subset of these people liars, plain and simple.

I was raised to believe that while honesty is always to be exalted, good manners are as well. When you are a guest in someone's home, you ought not to be rude or disrespectful to them. Yet here was Obama, as a guest, calling some of those who dwell there liars.

That said, I believe that he got what he deserved and I am surprised he didn't get more. You simply don't come into someone's home, call him a liar and expect him to remain silent, as silence can be perceived as either permission or acquiescence.

Having set the scene, Obama and those who support him ought not to squeal like stuck pigs. I won't repeat what others have said here about the flexible standard Obama supporters have in respecting the presidency, as the raking over the coals that Bush received lays lie to the fact that there is some innate Democratic respect for the office. Bush was said to enjoy the casualties of Iraq by the current House Majority leader. He was compared to Hitler regularly. He was selected, not elected, and thus not "entitled" to respect. Even in his second term where he won outright.

The bottome line here is that Obama started this dustup. He got what he deserved and that is doubly so when one considers the fast and loose way he has played with the truth in his comments.

The misleading language he uses is far too numerous to note here. But one thing stands out.

Every major social "safety net" program has exploded far far beyond what was predicted. There is not a single one that has come under projection let alone at projection.

With the projections indicating that every plan in Congress is not cost neutral, and the eagerness to push something through a likely motive to understate the future costs, it is reasonable to expect that the proposals will be extremely expensive.

Now it can't be denied that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were passed at a time when the US still had much of it's economic capital intact. We were not a huge debtor nation to the rest of the world. The economy in the mid 60s was not in the tank when Medicare and Medicaid was passed.

Every bone in my body SCREAMS that the situation calls for a slow and considered approach to solving the intractable problem that is so deeply ingrained into our economy and the every day lives of Americans.

The RUSH to get something through by August was clearly intended by Obama to get something passed before the people had a good chance to look at it. That's plain dishonest and not what he stood for.

Similarly, the rush for Thanksgiving is clearly intended for political rather than policy purposes - to keep the issue out of the 2010 election cycle.

Obama has launched the improbable assertion that he intends to pay for half the cost of his proposal by the old chestnuts "fraud, waste and abuse".

Let's put to one side that every time that has been put forward as a funding source it was no where to be found.

Let's start simple. If there is $500 billion to be had in fraud, waste and abuse, let's collect that money before we spend it.

I recently bought a home. No one suggested that I close on the house before I raised the money to pay for it.

Let Obama show that the linch pin in his funding plan is legitimately attainable.

Then let us see how much money we have to spend before we decide how much "house" we can afford.

What's wrong with that?