Re: No Apology Necessary, Joe Wilson

Posted: Sep 10, 2009 3:34 PM
Meredith - I find it pretty hard to defend Joe Wilson, and I think that, in hindsight, he realizes his behavior was unacceptable.

Many around the interwebs have pointed out that other legislatures around the world frequently engage in heckling their leaders from the bench (and some of them wish we emulated these other countries). It's something that I hope doesn't take root here but, more importantly, something that certainly isn't the custom now. I think Joe Wilson was out of line. While applause and jeers are common practices during big presidential addresses, specific heckling is not. If it ever does occur, I don't want the Republican party to be the initiators of the practice. I think it's unseemly of our leaders.

Etiquette aside, there are well-established and appropriate avenues of response. The GOP had a return message immediately following the President's speech, and not five minutes after it concluded, Congressmen issued press releases with their individual responses. [# More #]

The issue of coverage of illegal immigrants is an important one to raise. Obama has actually, without explanation, changed his "covering the uninsured" number from the 45-47 million commonly cited to "more than thirty million American citizens" in his speech last night. Joe Wilson's outburst, as we have seen, has raised the profile of this issue. But not in the right way. Obama has consistently, in his public speeches, lied to the American people. There are more constructive avenues to pointing this out than to yell at him in the middle of a speech.

At a time when more and more moderates and centrists are starting to see the light on conservative criticism of the Obama health care plan specifically and his Administration's policies more generally, it's important to appear to represent the mainstrem of American public opinion. Obama will try his best to impugn critics of his policies as extremist right-wingers, and it's important for the GOP to be conservative in ideology and moderate in disposition to point out that it is Obama, not his critics, who is out of touch.