You Lie!by Lady Liberty
In the aftermath of the disruption to President Barack Obama's healthcare reform speech on September 9, I saw a report suggesting that "you lie" were the "two words heard 'round the world." I don't know that I believe that folks in other countries were all that interested, but the people in this country sure did hear—and have opinions about—the outburst!
Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) was quietly watching the President tout his version of healthcare reform along with most of the rest of the largely silent Republican delegation. But after hearing one untruth too many, he could no longer hold back. When the President looked straight into the cameras and claimed illegal aliens wouldn't be included in his plan, Wilson apparently couldn't stop himself. From the floor of the House Chamber itself, he shouted, "You lie!"
To Wilson's credit, he offered an apology to the White House quickly and without prompting. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accepted that apology on behalf of the President. In the face of demands he further debase himself, Wilson is once again behaving admirably by refusing to make additional apologies and by all appearances wanting to move on.
There are many on both sides of the political aisle that condemn Wilson's behavior as inappropriate. While I agree that a Presidential address to a joint session of Congress is not the venue for that kind of protest, I must admit my sympathies lie firmly in Wilson's corner.
I didn't watch much of the President's speech. I haven't watched any of his speeches since the Democratic National Convention last summer. I read transcripts, and I listen to analyses afterward, but I don't watch them live. Why not? Let me answer that by telling you what happened during the small portion of the speech I did happen to see.
There was a program having nothing whatsoever to do with politics that was scheduled to begin at 9 o'clock that evening. I turned on my television maybe a minute early only to find that the President was running a little over time with his remarks. Having tuned in so late, I missed Wilson's shout and knew nothing about it. But literally within two sentences of the President's ongoing speech, I dropped everything to yell back at the TV: YOU LIE! Another sentence or two, and I said something that can't be repeated here. By the time just a few minutes had passed and the speech was finally over, my comments had sunk just about as far into the gutter as it's possible to go.
What I do in the privacy of my own home, of course, is my own business. No one was harmed in any way by my outbursts (with the possible exception of a nervous cat or two). No one else even had to hear them (except those cats, who are frankly pretty used to that kind of thing). I would have exerted some control on myself had I been in any public setting, let alone seated on the floor of the House. But I would still have wanted to say those things, and I would have wanted to say them very badly, and very, very loudly.
Yes, Representative Wilson has my sympathy. So do the other Congressmen who haven't received the level of publicity Joe Wilson has, but who never-the-less felt they needed to make some very important points, too. Nobody shouted, "You lie!" when the President blatantly claimed nobody else had come forward with any ideas, but some of them held up some of the numerous counter proposals that had been offered. Nobody shouted, "You lie!" when the President said he didn't want to put private insurance out of business, but skeptical remarks were audible. Nobody shouted, "You lie!" when the President assured the nationwide audience that his proposal didn't include "death panels," but somebody did say, "Read the bill!" I can only wonder how it is that nobody threw a handful of shredded money into the air when the President once again falsely stated that his plan wouldn't increase the federal deficit.
Representative Wilson called his own actions a "lack of civility." He was right. At the same time, we should probably thank him for doing what nobody else has had the nerve to do. After all, somebody had to publicly call President Obama a liar for one very simple reason: He was lying.
Healthcare reform represents too much government control and too much taxpayer money to consider anything but provable facts during the debate on the issue. Of course, since the facts would kill this version of reform all together, that's something neither the President nor his sycophants appear to have much interest in discussing or even acknowledging. If Wilson's remarks play any role in changing that, then we're going to owe him a whole lot more than our gratitude.