What got into Joe Wilson tonight?

In the hour or so after the president’s speech, my Blackberry wouldn’t stop buzzing. The Tweets came fast and furious as everyone discussed Joe Wilson’s outrageous behavior tonight. He was the guy who shouted, “You lie!” to the president of the United States during a joint address to Congress.

Which was, let’s face it, a new low in the annals of partisanship in America.

My wife was startled to hear it, saying, “I thought he was more mild-mannered than that.”

He is. But he was under the influence of a particularly insidious drug. It’s the same one that Jim DeMint was on when he spoke hopefully of the health care debate being Obama’s “Waterloo.”

Politicians in Washington, and increasingly right here at home, are so high on the frisson of perpetual partisan warfare that they find themselves thinking things, saying things and doing things that they wouldn’t think, say, and do otherwise. The positive reinforcement they get for it is considerable. Even as Democrats were beside themselves with indignation over Joe’s outburst, some of the more extreme Red Staters were ready to canonize Joe for his moment of irrationality.

So Joe had to choose. As it happens, he chose to apologize (ironically, he did so BEFORE I got the press release from the S.C. Democratic Party demanding that he do so):

“This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.”

Good. That’s something. But I’m afraid the standards for political disagreement just got ratcheted down another notch tonight, and I’m sorry that my congressman did the ratcheting. He’s sorry. Well, so am I.

26 thoughts on “What got into Joe Wilson tonight?

  1. Lee Muller

    It was a bit rude, but it was probably just a reflexive reaction to the sheer deluge of lies from Obama.

    Obama makes Clinton look like George Washington. Even fawning liberals like Carl Woodward had lists of the bogus claims and weasel words in tonight’s speech.

    This is America’s Adolf Hitler, and a lot of people who stupidly voted for this socialist are waking up.

  2. Lee Muller

    Obama may not have been lying about this bill not covering illegal aliens, because another one will.

    And Obama plans to give them all Instant Citizenship anyway. Heck, he hasn’t proven he is a citizen himself.

  3. Claudia

    I wonder when the last time was that political discourse became so hysterically irrational. The days of Joe McCarthy come to mind, but that was a bit before my time so I hesitate to make that comparison. Tonight another Sen. Joe raised the bar… too bad for the U.S., and another black eye for S.C.

  4. Lee Muller

    Claudia, I am just stating the facts. I have studied Obama as far back as I can, which is not very far, because he has no records – no phone bill, no utility bills, no addresses.

    Anyone who does not yet realize what a hard core radical Obama and his team are, is simply ignorant of the facts. All his close advisors are communists. He ran for office twice on the Socialist Party ticket.

  5. Randy E

    Wilson’s middle school behavior reflects the level of discourse of the right in general. Karl Rove of the previous White House administration chuckled with glee upon hearing of Wilson’s antics. The reigning GOP VP candidate and GOP senators have engaged in the “death panel” lies and distortions. Brad points out Dum-Mint’s “Waterloo” mindset. Bauchman wants congress investigated to weed out those who are “un-American.” Rush will likely giggle like a little school girl tomorrow.

    With Dum-Mint, Wilson, Sanfraud, the NCAA boycott, and the rebel flag flying on the state grounds there is certainly an image problem for the state.

  6. Burl Burlingame

    What is with your South Carolina Republicans? They can’t keep their pants zipped, nor their mouths.

  7. Mike Toreno

    Brad, this is why you failed as a journalist and why you’re failing as a blogger. If you want to succeed, you need to provide value to people. You need to talk about what’s really happening, rather than trying to force everything into your own warped perspective.

    The problem isn’t partisanship, the problem is that Republicans are crazy, evil liars. The Republicans spent all of August making up crazy stories, shouting people down, sneering at constituents who try to talk about the problems they are experiencing with health care, and generally trying to push out discussion of the issue in favor of a freakshow organized and run by lobbyists.

    President Obama and the Democratic Party won in a blowout. Three quarters of the people want a public option. Democrats are entitled to stick together and push their agenda through; negotiating and compromising with Republicans is not something that anybody with the interests of the United States in mind cares about.

    We don’t send politicians to Washington to get along; we send them to Washington to do stuff. The problem isn’t too much partisanship, the problem is too little partisanship on the part of Democrats.

    Republicans don’t believe in elections. They believe that even though they are a tiny minority, they are somehow entitled to rule; that they are the only real Americans. That’s why the birthers started their freakshow; that’s why the worthless draft-dodger Saxby Chambliss said that the President of the United States needed to show humility, and that’s why Wilson acted like he acted. Wilson didn’t believe the President of the United States is entitled to respect because he doesn’t believe his election was legitimate. To him, an election is only legitimate if a Republican wins, it doesn’t matter how many votes the Democrat got.

    The problem isn’t partisanship, the problem is the Republicans. We’re not the ones waving guns around at town hall meetings, we’re not the ones carrying guns to events where the President is speaking.

    You need to quit pretending that the problem is partisanship and talk about what’s really happening.

    Blogging is hard. You can’t just pull Republican talking points out of the fax machine and copy them down the way you used to do. You have to examine issues and provide insightful comments.

  8. Burl Burlingame

    Actually, quite clever of the Republicans. Now everyone’s talking about Wilson’s boorish behavior and fake apology instead of the content of Obama’s speech. Wilson threw himself under the train to derail it, because, as we know, the ends justify the means.

  9. Randy E

    Toreno is a self-parody. After the first couple sentences I moved on to Burl’s post.

    While paying attention to Wilson is like rubber necking at a car wreck, his stunt is symbolic of a bigger issue.

    I think there may be some push back against all this anti-Obama/socialized medicine/death panel strategy. People stop taking them seriously or find their position to be a personal vendetta against Obama (see Dum-Mint) and not meaningful debate on behalf of the people.

  10. Randy E

    Revision: I read Toreno’s post on the “Hoping the President” thread and was impressed. So I’ll retract the “parody” remark as a general criticism and state that I’d prefer not to read the sniping at Brad.

  11. Lee Muller

    My favorite Obama Lie of the Day was when he said, “If we just save 1/10 of one percent on healthcare, it will be four trillion dollars.”

    Yeah, if you have a $40 QUADRILLION “budget”.

  12. kbfenner

    Claudia–You were probably conflating Rep Joe Wilson with Senator Joe McCarthy.

    Lee–You seem to “know” so many things that just don’t seem to have happened yet. Why don’t you put your ability to foretell the future to better use in the stock market?

    –and President Bush took a surplus and made it a deficit with his WMD Iraq war.

  13. Bart

    Has anyone on this blog actually read the entire bill from page one to page 1018? I actually tried to read and digest it but after a while, going back and forth between the language in the bill and referencing Social Security, Medicare, and other programs, confusion reigned supreme.

    If is an amalgamation of disconnects and dead ends the average person will never understand, much less those who are charged with voting on it. The old adage about needing a team of Philadelphia lawyers to understand it is apropos for this particular bill.

    All I have seen so far from town hall meetings is a lack of understanding from both sides and political opportunism at its worst.

    When a plan cannot be clearly understood by those supporting it, how can anyone expect the average person to support it either? The language is not very clear and the potential for abuse is boundless.

    The citizens who show up at town hall meetings, angry and confused have legitimate concerns and express them. Citizens who have worked hard all their lives and don’t consider Social Security or Medicare to be socialist or free by any means are concerned. WE ALL pay into both by deductions from our paychecks so what is behind labeling either as socialist?

    As for Joe Wilson, he may be the gift Obama has been looking for. In one moment of monumental ignorance, Joe Wilson probably gave Obama the one voice that will push the bill into law. You can bet it will be used ad nauseum and unfortunately, Republicans will be the unwitting sponsors of Obama’s health care bill, with single payer included.

  14. Brad Warthen

    Actually, Mike Rosh — I mean, Toreno — gave us an excellent example of the problem: “The problem isn’t partisanship, the problem is that Republicans are crazy, evil liars…”

    Well, I had to smile at that.

    The prosecution rests…

  15. Lee Muller

    Mrs. Fenner,

    I would think that a lawyer accusing me of something would at least offer some evidence, not just a naked personal attack. You must not have listened to the speech. I don’t blame you. It was a stem winder. Joe Biden checked his watch several times.

    The Bush tax cuts actually pulled us out of the Clinton Recesssion of 2000, and INCREASED federal tax revenues by enough to pay for the Iraq War with a balanced budget. The deficits under Bush were all due to over spending on education, Medicare and social welfare programs.

    Democrats voted for all that deficit spending. When they got control of Congress in 2007, they ran higher deficits. In 2008, they DOUBLED the deficits.

    2009 deficits alone will probably surpass all the deficit spending under Bush from 2001-2006.

  16. Mike Toreno

    Brad, some things are just true, and you can say they’re true because you can back them up with evidence. They may be harsh, but they’re true.

    Look at Joe Wilson, whose rude outburst was a lie. Look at Lynn Westmoreland, who called Obama “uppity”. Look at President Bush, who lied America into war. Look at the teabaggers. Look at the birthers. Look at the deathers.

    The opposition to Obama and the opposition to Bush aren’t two sides of the same coin. The Democrats who said that Bush lied America into a pointless war weren’t motivated by blind partisanship, they were telling the truth. The Republicans who talk about “death panels” are just lying.

  17. Lee Muller

    Illegal aliens are receiving free medical care at our expense now.

    Does that make Obama dishonest, or not?

    16,000,000 to 30,000,000 illegal aliens are counted among “the uninsured whom the Democrats claim they want to cover at taxpayer expense.

  18. Lee Muller

    I hope Joe Wilson starts a trend.

    We need more confrontation of lies and obfuscations in our legislative chambers.

    In England, the Prime Minister is required to regularly come before Parliament to report on his execution of the laws, and make recommendations. He is challenged from all sides, and he is expected to speak on his feet, not from notes written by someone else.

    Obama engages in theater, not debate. He is unable to speak extemporaneously, because he lacks experience, knowledge and is not really very articulate.

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