Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The real problem with Wilson

Michelle Bachmann must be spitting mad. So far this year she has been the uncontested biggest embarrassment to the House (and just where is Don Young?). Tonight, Rep. Joe Wilson jumped ahead of all the competition with just two words: "You lie!" A speech by the President to the joint houses of Congress is not question time in Parliament--though I do wish we had that institution in the United States. It's supposed to be a fairly formal occasion when everyone is using their eating out manners. The biggest bit of silliness is usually the party of the President trying to embarrass the other party into applauding by frequent "spontaneous" standing ovations. Standing up and shouting "you lie" when the president says the the final bill will not grant coverage to illegal aliens is completely beyond the pale.

By now, everyone and their mandatory writer's cat has commented on Wilson's monumental lack of class. He's going to get seriously kicked around for this, and he'll deserve every blow. Many people will point out that he's also completely wrong. The House bill (the only one finished, so far) specifically says no health care for icky foreigners. Wilson has now apologised for the rudeness, but not for being wrong.

What struck me was the point that brought Wilson to his feet. The Republicans and Blue Dogs object to many aspects of the proposed reforms, and some object to the very idea of health care reform. There are lots of points for differing opinions, interpretations, and preferred solutions. The one that caused Wilson to be overcome with emotion was the very idea that undeserving others might be taken care of when they get sick. This level of meanness has always lain deep below the surface of conservatism. It doesn't often come into the light like this.

I doubt as if any pundits or politicians will comment on this, and if they do, I doubt as any will come out in opposition to such meanness. Obama's speech tried to appeal to the best in our national character. What no one wants to admit is that our national character isn't what it once was.

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