WaPo editorialist Dana Milbank's "Republicans Behaving Badly" gives ample evidence of who the malefactor-in-chief is. Here's the speech.
To his credit, Milbank notes, among other Democrat "provocations," the chamber of medical horrors showcased by the visitors in the First Lady's box. "Obama wasn't subtle in his effort to make his foes look cruel."
But Milbank distorts the misbehavior by some Republicans by omitting Obama's charge that unnamed "prominent politicians" are spreading "a lie, plain and simple" about the vaunted death panels. Can anyone provide another instance of a President addressing Congress and calling his opponents liars? See political theorist Tim Burns, via Powerline.
Moreover, Milbank errs in referring to last night's occasion as "a sacred ritual of American democracy"--this was not a constitutionally mandated State of the Union address but rather a rare partisan occasion (try naming a couple others) for a President to push pet legislation. Such a political appropriation of the elected branches of government merits a political response.
Joe Wilson was clearly out of line, but is this really evidence that "the nation's rapidly deteriorating discourse" has "hit yet another low"? I'll believe that when a member of Congress beats a U.S. senator with a cane--which, of course, happened in 1856.
Duels! Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama!
Wilson was right to apologize for behavior that showed a lack of self-control and is, certainly, inappropriate and beneath the dignity of the occasion. But it is also fair to say that Obama's words just before Wilson's outburst were of a piece with Wilson's. It was not a dignified speech but a partisan, accusatory, and gauntlet throwing thing. The reaction of Wilson is regrettable, but not surprising given the provocation.
It clearly demonstrates two principles of George Washington 's that ought to have been heeded. Washington was circumspect about speaking before a joint session of Congress precisely because it opens up the possibility for this kind of thing--as it did the first time he tried it. We do not have a Prime Minister . . . we do not have a House of Commons. We have Representatives . . . and they ought not to act so common anymore than our executive ought to sully himself in so common a spectacle. An address before a joint session of Congress ought to be something that is approached with solemnity and--above all--rarity.
Finally, Wilson's reaction gives the lie to Obama's claim to be above partisanship and his suggestion that the time for "bickering" is over. You can hardly chastise people for bickering when you are the one poking them . . . though it may be true that the poked would serve themselves and their cause better if they exercised more reserve.
Wilson was both rude and imprudent. He made himself the story in a bad way. He ended up doing Obama a favor by helping put the Republicans on the defensive.
Rather than making pathetic, sideways excuses for Wilson's lack of respect and decorum (had a dissenting Congressman so much as shown up at a similar Bush address with an "anti" pin on his/her lapel, you'd now be defending said dissenter's having been tased and removed from the chamber, and joking about the incident), let's bring the focus away from Wilson's sideshow antics to the meaning of his words. Obama was not lying. Neither his plan nor the House plan will provide health care or health subsidies to illegal immigrants.
So, actually, it was Wilson who was lying. His impropriety was simply the cherry on the obnoxious sundae.
But fine, as it stands, it looks like Wilson will be gone soon. His opponent in 2010 has already raised $350K from the incident:
While Wilson has raised....$250 (not thousand, just 250 bucks):
...and of course, The Quitter on Twitter, Sarah Palin, has decried Obama's lack of civility. That sure makes sense:
Ladies and gentlemen, our first post-partisan president!
Does anyone remember how the Left turned out for Reagan's funeral? Yea, that was respectful. Or how the howled at Bush as he was leaving office. Again, a perfect Leftist profile in "respect."
Respect must be earned, and Obama the empty suit hasn't earned any. Go Joe!