Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson: 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee?

Joe Wilson, in his attempt to disrupt a presidential address, has made himself both a hero and a villain. He's a hero to the right-wing fringe who believe that he was right when he said the president lies, and he's a villain to the rest of the sane people in this country.

The fact of the matter is, Joe Wilson is allowed to disagree with the president. Since the incident, several outlets have claimed that this is just like what happens all the time in Parliament in Great Britain, so what's the big deal? The first argument against that is that this isn't the House of Lords, and we're not in Great Britain. We follow parliamentary procedure to a point, but if you've ever seen video of what goes on over there, you know we're not quite the same.

But even if you believe we should be more like Great Britain in that regard, please be aware that Joe Wilson would still not have been following the rules had he yelled, "You lie!" in the House of Lords. In virtually every country that follows parliamentary procedure, calling a speaker a liar is considered a violation of that procedure. Wikipedia has the list of countries and what the various offenses are in each of those countries.

With that in mind, the only way to describe what Joe Wilson did is to call it disrespectful. Even if he is actually certain that the president was lying, that was not the time or place to let that fact be known. Republicans clamored for years that the president's office is deserving of respect, and that no one should criticize the president during a time of war. Well, let's all try to play by the same rules, okay? No matter how Democrats responded to George W. Bush during his years in office, not one ever called him a liar in the middle of a speech to both houses of Congress.

And for the record, the House bill specifically prohibits illegal immigrants from being covered. The problem is that there is not a system in place to identify illegal immigrants. But that's the case right now, and taxpayers are paying for illegal immigrants' emergency room visits anyway. So why the uproar now, when this bill is at least attempting to work on that problem? Is that really worth yelling, "You lie!" at the president during his speech?

Of course, Wilson has become something of a celebrity because of this. has as its lead story the fact that Wilson has raised around $200,000 since the incident. In paragraph seven (of nine) of that story, the writer notes that Rob Miller, Wilson's opponent in 2010, has raised more than $750,000. As I write this, Rob Miller's number is actually $816,097, and rising every hour (when I first went to that site just moments after Wilson's outburst, it showed that Miller had raised roughly $3500 in his campaign up to that point). I donated $25, and that link in the previous sentence will allow you to do the same if you like. My point is, why is Wilson's fundraising the story here? The story, in my eyes, is that people who oppose what Wilson did, who consider it unbecoming of a Congressman, have rallied behind the man's opponent. Money talks in politics, and the bigger story is that the majority of those talking with their pocketbooks are doing so against Wilson, not for him.

Many have noted that this is just a product of the kind of "debate" Republicans want to have. The "facts" are out there, mostly being presented by radio and talk show hosts who want to rally their base with scare tactics. Congressmen (and women) should be above such tactics, but they're clearly not (note Chuck Grassley's speeches in which he told people that they should be afraid of the government killing Grandma), and it's pretty disgusting. Wilson apologized after the outburst, but is now claiming that he will "not be muzzled," and is refusing to apologize to the House for his actions. We shouldn't be surprised by this behavior when the de facto leaders of the Republican Party are currently Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

I, for the record, do not care what Joe Wilson wants to say. If he wants to hop on the scare tactic bandwagon of the extreme right, and win elections by lying to his own constituents, that's their problem, not mine. I do care about when he chooses to make those statements, though. Like it or not, a presidential address is only for the president. Afterward, the opposing party gets to counter the president (and what an amazing representative they chose, huh?). If Joe Wilson had wanted to be that guy, he should have petitioned his party for the privilege. Otherwise, sit down and shut up until it's your turn.


James Burkhardt said...

Does America care about the truth or are they so intent on remaining comfortable, spending their income on discretionary items and having others pay for their real responsibilities, that they don't care about the truth.

Erin said...

Look, my first Republican troll!

If it's Joe Wilson's version of the truth, I sure as hell don't care. Because he was blatantly wrong when he said the president was lying. Moreover, my point was not that he said the wrong thing, but that he said it at the wrong time. He was disrespectful, plain and simple.

I have never been able to afford health insurance, despite having a college degree and having what was considered a livable wage in the state of California. When I was a production assistant (which was my only option, despite the college degree, because I had to "pay my dues"), I worked fourteen-hour days (minimum) for about $500/week, and if you think there is any way for someone to afford health insurance on that paycheck and still be able to pay the rent, you're crazy.

I guess I don't see why Americans have to choose between "remaining comfortable" and having health insurance. Are you suggesting, like someone else did to me once, that Americans not buy houses or cars so that they can afford the ridiculous premiums imposed upon them by health insurance companies?

It's simplistic to say that Americans want someone to pay for their real responsibilities, but I'm glad you could stop by after watching Glenn Beck to give me the standard Republican Party line.

Bruce Paine said...

It is easy for me to move through society with my social camouflage on. I am relatively handsome (when seen in the proper light), I have folksy, roguish charm. i am just an average sized white guy walking through a world that was supposedly made just for average sized white guys. But then folks get to know me.

You know, a lot of people don't like my lifestyle. They don't like my posture (or, at times, the absence of it). They don't like my aggressive personality, or the fact that I am not ashamed of what I am. But one thing they have to face is that I am both confident and educated. When your scholarship has taken you as far as mine has on the specific track you pose as a topic, it can become a curse of sorts. The scope of the historical knowledge puts things in dangerous kinds of perspective. Things start looking the same. Trends start to develop in the ether of my mind. The trends are followed by assumptions, hypotheses (if you will). Often, a truly frightening summation is discovered that the hypothesis may be so ugly and detrimental, should it ever be proven true, that the testor could never possibly assume that the data he collected could stand the test of honesty. Then comes the Fear. Its a fear because the trends start to coagulate into something more recognizable, something with right angles and causes and effects. The trends becomes tactics. You start to realize that, while some people haven't read the books you have, some have. They have read the Princes. They have read The Art of War. They have read Leviathan. Not only have they read them, but they have taken the bits I saw as dangers and seen them as righteous opportunity. The Fear gambles on the unknown, the untestable, that place inside humanity where honesty melts together with believing your own lies. I start to see signs on the edges of things, never in the middle, just on the unfocusable edges of my vision.
Then I start pacing. The trend becomes tactic becomes strategy and I cannot answer the "For what?" because if I say what I feel I drive people farther away from where I think they need to be. I see the other guy winning because he is doing his job so well I can't even do mine. Laughed at and ridiculed, wedges firmly driven, there is no option left but to disassociate. If continued association only serves the purpose of the mastermind, getting out can often seem the only logical answer.
After a while, after the scholarship, the postualting, the sleepless nights you start to build these models in your head of the "way things should be" or the "way things could be" but when you apply it to the way things are it just comes apart, the center cannot hold. If it seems dramatic that is good, with the right kind of glasses on it IS really fucking dramatic. Its absofuckinglutely Shakespearian in its most dramatic sense with all the main characters dead and dying and the curtain coming down on Octavius, his unadulterated thrill mixing with his own childish sense of "what next". Now, when I close my eyes, I can't shake the pictures of it all. I see my enemies standing above my broken body with my soul, my country, and my people ground beneath their polished Florsheim. The shame is that they have none. They did what they thought they were supposed to be doing, and saw no defect. They cannot see beyond the crumbling redoubt of my arms and legs. The crime for me is that they will have values so disjointed that they won't be able to say, "She shall be buried by her Bruce." I at least want to one who brings me down to be a better man, but every day it looks more and more like its going to be some miserable swine, some puppet (foreign or domestic) who has no more animus than an episode of Big Brother.