Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why Joe Wilson Really Shouted Out

Here is the top story at FoxNews.com right now:

AFP/AP

Rep. Joe Wilson apologizes after shouting at Obama as he talked about insuring illegals. | VIDEO | FULL TEXT

Notice the wording they choose:
"...as he talked about insuring illegals."
So not only is Fox News fueling the effort to make Wilson a right-wing folk hero, they're also giving the impression that Obama said the exact opposite of what he actually said. Some news outlet.

The president took important time out of his speech to debunk the actual lies that opponents of health care reform have been using to try to derail the whole process. First he addressed the Republican lie that health reform will "set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens." Then he said:
"Now, there are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."
That's when Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted the speech, before the highest assembly of our government, by yelling out and calling the president a liar.

Let's face it, the president was kicking ass at that point in the speech. He had already laid out his own vision for reform, and now he was peeling back the layers of lies one by one. Obama has a way of making his fiercest opponents seem pretty small and petty--and rightly so. I wonder if at that moment the Republicans sitting in the chamber felt like things were slipping away from them. After all, the lies are important to Republican prospects for regaining power. "Death panels." "Tax-payer-funded, forced abortions." "Free health care for all 'illegals.'" If the president stands before the American people and exposes each lie for what it is, he also exposes the liars for what they are: members of a desperate, vitriolic, and shrinking party. I wonder if some of the Republicans thought, in terror, "Oh my God, he is actually going to pass sweeping health care reform. This is going to be like Social Security and Medicare. People are going to love it, and it's going to permanently shift the country toward the left, as people realize that government in the peoples' hands can actually solve big problems."

Whatever they were thinking, it was too much pain for old Joe Wilson from South Carolina, so he shouted out, "You lie!" Maybe he was actually shouting at the voices in his head, constantly whispering about death panels, abortions, and "the illegals." I don't know. But this is what the Republican Party has become--shameless, devoid of good will, untethered from reality, possibly schizophrenic.

Remember this moment. This is what it looks like when progress is on the march. Powerful moneyed interests and their representatives in government will always oppose any major step forward for ordinary Americans. But when they are this ridiculous and this desperate, it means we are about to win one.

10 comments:

girlnextdoorfla said...

I sure hope so! I felt so inspired after last night!

Mason said...

I disagree that we're about to win one. The opposition was hugely successful in blocking what could have been. Joe Wilson is only one of the many that will fight true reform to the bitter end, including FauxNews.

Chris said...

I would encourage this kind of outburst in congress. There needs to be more emotional reaction so that we can get a truer sense of how people feel instead of hiding behind our proper victorian facade. People may find politics more entertaining and become more involved if our congresses were as lively as Great Britain's.

Elizabeth said...

I think it's just a hold-over from the ridiculousness of some of the town halls. And the fact that our country was once obsessed with Jerry Springer. And knowing something about South Carolina, I can guarantee he WILL be a hero.

Chris, I would suggest you listen to some of Harry Bird's "empassioned speeches" (dog fighting, coal, etc etc) and tell me if it doesn't just make you think the man is crazy. There actually are quite a lot of passionate speeches on the House and less the Senate floor. But one, no one is actually there to listen (meaning Members of Congress only show up on the floor to vote and NOT to listen to other people talk) and two, no one normal watches CSPAN.

I think we as a country (here comes the big, sweeping generalization) are swept away by our emotions too often (hello, I cried when he talked about Teddy!) and throw all decorum and, let's face it, smarts, out the window when we get swept away. We've forgotten what it means to respect people like the President...not because they're somehow "better" than us or "more powerful" but because the President of the United States deserves to be respected for the office that he won. Republican or Democrat. Don't agree with him. In fact, protest against him. Write blogs against him. Organize against him. But Mr. Wilson's outburst was just plain ridiculous.

Additionally, places like FoxNews thrive on the very emotion you're talking about...and do you really think it makes the public square a better place?

Elizabeth said...

Sorry, one more thing. I LOVE the questioning of the Prime Minister by the House of Commons (I believe it happens every Friday?) And I would wholeheartedly support a time where the President and Congress get to, in some way, duel it out. But a national speech, in my mind, is not that place and never should be. I mean people get pissed when someone interrupts an Oscar speech. Isn't a set, organized time for a speech by the President a little more important than that?

Chris said...

I support Joe Wilson for speaking for his constituants. I wish my congress person would have yelled YOU LIE! at a GW Bush speech. I would have shat for joy!

Kate said...

I agree Chris.....If it is appropriate to yell out while the president is addressing the nation, then why in the hell did we not do that to Bush? What's disgusting about this is (because Dems didn't do it to Bush) people are viewing Wilson's outburst as a courageous step that needed to be taken. I've read/heard the following statements, "Wow, someone actually yelled at the president" or "It's about time someone called him for what he is" or "I want to shake Wilson's hand."

It makes me sick to my stomach to think that this stupid outburst may help the right....and when I think of all the actual lies that could have been called out before now.

Tifblueyes25 said...

"We've forgotten what it means to respect people like the President...not because they're somehow "better" than us or "more powerful" but because the President of the United States deserves to be respected for the office that he won." A person will be respected when that respect is warranted....Also, many have forgotten that during MANY of GWB's speeches, there were some hecklers and some who shouted their opinions....This is America...not parliament...Opinions are appreciated...and I for one appreciate someone at least voicing their opinion...I felt like the "Prez" skirted around the major issues by focusing on the truly outlandish rumors...all the while making it seem as if he truly cares for me....which i believe to be untrue....

Elizabeth said...

It's a shame, Tifblueeyes, that you don't respect people until they "earn your respect." I guess we can only assume, then, that you walk down the street not respecting anyone who passes you by until they earn it. That must be a horribly depressing way to live life!

If there is an egregious act that the President has committed against you, then I believe that you have every right not to respect him. And if you believe that he has committed such an act, you should discuss it here at BTM!

I can tell you that even though I disliked him and thought that many of his policies were evil, I respected GWB simply because he was my President (I even voted for him!) But there is a fundamental difference between acting and treating someone with respect and liking (or not liking) them. In my mind, the world is a better place when we all treat one another with respect, whether they deserve it or not. In fact, my faith (and yours, if you're a Christian) speaks to this in particular.

You're also right, there were many hecklers at/of GWB's speeches. The point, though, is that those hecklers were not other elected officials. The Congress of the United States is governed by an (arguably archaic) set of "house rules" where members always treat one another, and guests in the chambers, with respect. That's why they say "My Friend, Mr. So and So" when addressing each other. Never, as far as I know, did a sitting Member of Congress yell out "You lie" at President Bush. Many of us may have wished that one of them would have. But it just didn't happen. Maybe, as Chris and Katie wish (and I can definitely understand), these house rules should change. But the point is that they haven't. And therefore, Congressman Wilson (and every other member of Congress) knew what was- and wasn't- appropriate behavior. As someone who knows firsthand how horribly divisive politics and policy discussion is in DC, I at least like to know that (even if it's artificial) Members can at least treat each other with some ounce of respect.

Dave said...

I'm all for a raucous debate. But a member of Congress interrupting the President's speech to call him a liar is stupid and out of line. I think the Sargeant at Arms should have removed Wilson from the chamber. I'm really not interested in the tit-for-tat, who-started-it arguments, but I'm pretty sure that Dems in Congress never did anything like this... even when Bush was telling ACTUAL LIES that resulted in many deaths.

Mason, I understand your feeling. The Repubs and their goon media have already blocked a lot of "what could have been." But we are about to "win" something. Something will pass. It will be watered down, yes. But it will be something, and it would have been impossible with a Republican president or congress.