As Republican scare tactics against health insurance reform have reached new extremes of disgrace, I have taken comfort in the hope that such outrageous behavior would only sully the fearmongers and make President Obama shine all the more by comparison. Nothing they have done so far, from the lies about 'death panels' to the parade of forged foreign birth certificates, has surprised me. Tonight, during Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress, I was finally surprised. In the midst of refuting a lie that his reform would insure undocumented aliens, Obama was interrupted by Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, falsely shouting 'You lie!' See the picture above for a mid-outburst shot of Wilson's angry snarl. For proof of Obama's statement, see the bill, H.R. 3200. Here is the relevant section in its entirety
SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS.
Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
Someone definitely lied during the speech, but it was not President Obama.
Besides Wilson's lie about lying, what kind of savage shouts at a president speaking before Congress? The incident reminds me of the despicable conduct of another South Carolinian, Senator Preston Brooks. On May 22, 1856 on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts nearly to death, trapping him under his Senate desk and bashing his head with a cane. Sumner was unable to return to the Senate for three years. Brooks's constituents back home saluted his crime by sending him new canes to replace the one he had broken on Sumner's head.
How will South Carolinians respond to Wilson's disgrace? Will they applaud the shame brought on their state, or will they reply to Wilson's 'You lie!' with a resounding 'Bye-bye!' come the next election? I say, let's help them restore their state's good name.
Rob Miller is a Democrat and an Iraq war veteran running against Wilson for the U.S. House seat in the Second Congressional District. I just contributed money to Miller's campaign, and I urge you to do the same by clicking this link
. Miller's campaign website
provides more information on his positions and his career. NPR fans may want to listen to him in the January 7, 2005 episode of This American Life
Whether you are from South Carolina or, like me, not, we all have a stake in restoring civility and respect to public dialogue. Please join me in ejecting a caveman from the halls of Congress and replacing him with a distinguished veteran of the U.S. Marines who served in Iraq and Liberia.
Labels: Barack Obama, health insurance, Republicans