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House Rebukes Wilson; Obama next?

As predicted, the House just voted, 240-179,a "resolution of disapproval" of Congressman Joe Wilson, with 12 Dems opposing, 7 Reps supporting.  The Politico provided a copy of the rules he violated; you can call someone a nitwit but not a liar. 

My question remains:  When has a President, addressing Congress, ever accused someone in the chamber of lying, as Obama clearly did?  I have been asking various scholars of the Presidency, who haven't come up with anything. 

Of course FDR compared conservative Republicans to fascists in his 1944 SOU (see the sixth paragraph from the end), which puts him in an entirely different league of malefactors.

On this note consider the wise thoughts of this scholar of the presidency, on Harry Truman:

"One would be hardpressed to find a more egregious example of presidential demagoguery than Truman's remark about Thomas Dewey and the Republican party ("[T]he Republicans have joined up with this Communist-inspired Third Party to beat the Democrats") or his claim that the Republicans were the instruments of "powerful reactionary forces" intent on reducing the Bill of Rights to a "scrap of paper" (247). To make sure that his postwar audience fully grasped the horror of the situation, Truman drew parallels with Hitler's rise to power in Germany. His rhetoric infuriated the Republicans and paved the way for McCarthyism during Truman's second term."
Categories > Congress

Discussions - 8 Comments

Kudos to the seven Republicans who voted for the resolution. They did the right thing, or erred on the side of insisting upon respect for the office, civil forms, etc.

Now, I have no problem with people admiring Joe Wilson for what he did, and for being sick at the high hypocrtical dudgeon of the MSM and Democratic party at his outburst. I actually am glad someone blurted out I am sick to death of Obama's contempt for truth and genuine dialogue. There really was a hectoring tone to that speech that was hard to swallow, especially with the (false) charge of liar brought in it against conservatives.

However, rules (unwritten or not) are rules, and respect for the office is respect for the office. Period. Even if it is admirable emotions that cause you to violate those rules, you gotta pay the penalty.

And, I might add, the Republicans who did not vote for the resolution simply handed the Democrats a fig-leaf for thier next (inevitable) indulgence of anti-civil discourse. There is a sick spirit in general at loose in our political discourse, but it has been especially indulged in by liberals. The more conservatives hold themselves to strict standards, the more the unhinged hate of so many Democrats will be evident.

You keep telling yourself that, Scott. Over the years what I've noticed is a GOP that generally follows polite form, and an opposition that does whatever it needs to win - create false ballots, lie about nominees to the SC, hold massive rallies when elections don't go their way, fabricate false evidence against presidents, whatever serves. To quote Van Jones, maybe it's time to get a little "rowdy." There is no reward for decorum except a swift kick in the pants -- isn't it time we figured this out?

Yeah, maybe if five GOP congressmen had screamed liar and if some GOP Senators had signed a petition suggesting Obama was born in a foreign country. That'll show everyone that Republicans are ruff and tuff and take no guff.

Vindictive agrgession and rudeness are not the way back into power. The Democrats did not win because of Code Pink and the Republicans will not win back power by acting like the dumbest, vainest, loudest liberals

Right, and Carl should hang out. The Left knows how to work the system (which is why, despite being wrong about virtually everything, they are still around). I for one am tired of polite establishment Republicans who sell us down the river -- I want revolutionaries at this point -- only hyperbolic action will serve at this point. And don't believe I'm the only one, Pete. The base is fed up. We want people of action, not parasitic (if polite) politicians.

What Joe Wilson said was not hyperbolic. It was true. There is a time and a place for everything and a loudly and openly expressed truth has no place in Congress.

Redwald, if by hyperbolic you include trafficking in conspiracy theories, using apocalyptic rhetoric (Obama is a Nazi, totalitarian, ect) and violating the basic rules of democratic civility that conservatives should be defending from radicals of all stripes, then hyperbolic is both wrong in itself and destructive to the conservative cause. If it means harsh (if fair) criticism then I am all on board. Tough doesn't have to mean wild or rude.

I think our differences come down to three propositions. First, I don't beieve that the actions of the most obnoxious people on the Left are the reason for conservatism's current political problems. Second, I think that mimicking the Left's moat obnoxious tactics works better as group therapy for the conservatives involved than as a strategy for conservative recovery. Third, I don't think that "hyerpbolic action" (in the first, bad sense) and "parasitic (if polite) politicians" are our only two choices.

And I don't link Wilson to any of the above acts I described aside from the one act of rudeness for which he rightly and manfully apologized rather than defended as legitimate when deployed against the Left.

Pete, I don't count the tinfoil hat crowd as "hyperbolic action" -- they are beyond the pall (and they are usually just as critical of the legitimate Right as the are the legitimate Left). No, I mean protest tactics, I mean speaking truth to power despite "the rules," I mean fighting dirty when the opposition employs such tactics. We need to win for a change, and that means responding to attacks aggressively (Clinton understood this), protesting when you are displeased, and fighting back (say, for instance, an honest-to-God tax revolt). All we need is some decent leadership and we can find our way out of this hole Bush dug for us.

Redwald, I'm not against peaceful protest, though I don't think that is is usually a very effective strategy. I'm all for speaking truth to power, though that doesn't mean emulating Kanye West. I think conservatives should respond strongly to to attacks, but it won't be enough to be angry or harsh and sometimes that approach can be counterproductive. Conservatives (including me) could hardly be more angry and disgusted by liberal attempts to paint policy differences with Obama as racist if they come from the right. But I'm not sure they have come up with the right countermessage or the right tone in response. I think that a little more humor and a more policy orientation (one crude example: the Democrats think it is racist to help Americans get cheaper and more secure health insurance, they say its racist to lower insurance premiums for working families through tort reform).

I agree that conservatives need good leadership, but that is the answer to only one problem. Conservatives need an issue agenda tailored to the moment. They need a political and media strategy that can reach and recruit the apolitical and weakly liberal and not just the conservative base. It wasn't just Bush that put conservatives in our present hole, and it wasn't just some corrupt political elite either. Conservatives in general - and this includes journalists, activist oragnizations, conservative media, and of course politicians - have done a poor job of recruiting new constituencies and responding to changes in the issue agenda (example: healthcare costs becoming a larger issue that tax rates on high earners). The hole we are in is partly a result of those failures.

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