What is there to say about Representative Joe Wilson's jaw-dropping breach of decorum at President Obama's health care speech? It defies belief.
Even if he really thought that BO was lying (he wasn't, by the way; not even a little), this was not the place to say so. This wasn't a debate, it was a speech. The Dems sat and listened to The Idiot lie to them about much more important things for eight years and never once did they do what I was doing at home. Which was standing up and saying exactly what Joe Wilson did to Obama. But I can call my TV screen a liar in the privacy of my own home. And even in a sternly-worded letter to my local newspaper. If I were in that chamber, I'd have to sit on my hands. It's proper.
What's even more ridiculous than one idiot heckling the president is the (inevitable, I suppose) defenders of the outburst. We were lectured on "respect for the office" for eight years until, conveniently, we didn't need to respect the office anymore. Because now things are different. Now we have some kind of un-American radical in office. Who just happened to have been elected mere months ago by a clear majority of American voters. But truth must be told. And Joe Wilson is our hero.
Oh, and pre-2000 respect for the office wasn't such a big deal either. Remember that? But 9/11 changed everything. Until it changed black. I mean, back.
The Right has become unbelievably unhinged since their worldview has come crashing down. Thomas Frank has a great piece in the >shudder< Wall Street Journal today detailing the steps that we've skipped on the road to outrage. Good stuff.
Wilson's outburst was stupid on several levels. First off, it was just culturally stupid. Decorum. We've covered this.
Second, his charge was based on a perceived loophole in the bill, not any fundamental issue with the bill. (It's actually pretty hilarious. Because there is no specific requirement to prove citizenship at the time of treatment, it's feasible that someone could sneak in and get some. Which is tantamount to explicitly offering care to illegals, of course. Bring your passport at all times. You'll need it to get into that ambulance.) So, even if he believed in the loophole, it didn't reach the level of a lie. But hollering "That's not entirely true, sir, and I'll be glad to demonstrate the flaw in your plan if given the opportunity!" is a bit too, shall we say, nuanced, for the current Republican party. "You lie!" is closer to the sixth-grade level they've been floating on lately.
Third, and I'm surprised that no one has talked about this, this was a pretty minor point that he was objecting to. Health care for illegal immigrants? There are so many larger points to concern yourself with, even in this particular debate. And this is the one that he stood up for and blew whatever reputation he had? You know, if I were a member of congress and I had one shot at a big movie moment, I'd save it for something really earth-shattering like, say, "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction". As it is, Wilson just looks like a garden variety racist. Not to mention petty.
As Eugene Robinson notes, Wilson's was the worst, but hardly the only, breach of decorum. But here we are. Enjoy your devoted cult following, GOP. The rest of us think you're a bunch of petulant, childish assholes.
UPDATE: E.J. Dionne has now talked about the thing that I was surprised that no one was talking about. Read it here.