Thursday, September 10, 2009

Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst

Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina yelled out "you lie!" during Obama's healthcare speech last night.

In the beginning of the clip Obama talks about death panels. He calls them a lie and the people "spreading the lies" are "cynical" and "irresponsible." He calls out cable TV, radio and prominent politicians. Of course we know he is the one who is lying about that and he must not have read Palin's article, or if he did, he didn't comprehend it.

I don't have a problem at all with Wilson's outburst. There are a few reasons why. Obama was acting like the previous eight weeks have never happened. He trotted out the same talking points last night that he did during his primetime network healthcare special and his other healthcare speech before the August recess. It appeared like he hadn't heard the thousands of people voicing concerns and the masses who have extreme discomfort with this bill. He has his fingers stuck in his ears saying "la la la I'm not listening." Meanwhile he wants to shove the bill down our throats. Not only that, he was blatantly lying about the bill. Tension was at its breaking point and Joe Wilson broke. Ironically, his outburst occurred when Obama said he was going to call out people who misrepresent the bill.

Also, it hasn't been that long that TV has been televising everything constantly. I imagine these sorts of outbursts occurred in the pre-TV age quite a bit. In British Parliament these outbursts happen all the time. It's not an indication of an un-civil society. It was merely an example of the tension breaking. It was very short and then over, and it didn't happen again. Now, if he had stood up and started yelling and preaching for an extended amount of time that would have been uncalled for. In any event, he has since apologized and it's over. I don't think it took anything away from our debate.

***Edited to add***

This also was a place of employment, a job setting, for everyone there except the press. The president and congress are all working as public servants for the citizens. Wilson's outburst is not comparable to, say, the people who pelted GWB's inauguration limo with eggs, or the members of Code Pink disrupting townhall meetings, or Cindy Sheehan protesting outside GWB's house, or the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at the GWB. In those cases and similar ones, those are private citizens attacking public officials. What Joe Wilson did was completely different. He and Obama are more like equals trying to work together to create a health care bill for the country. He couldn't sit through Obama's obvious lying and lost his composure. It wasn't the right thing to do, but I certainly don't think he deserves all the flak he's been getting for this.