Why South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson Matters
“Who is Joe Wilson?” is something I would have said three days ago. Three days ago, I thought Joe Wilson was that representative (from Texas was it?) who was the subject of that movie about the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan but it turns out his name is Charlie. The point remains: three days go, I didn’t know Representative Joe Wilson existed.
Flash to September 9, 2009: the “hallowed” halls of Congress, the President of the United States made his case for health care reform to both houses of Congress. The President noted that some of his critics have been less than honest with their criticisms. The President assured the public that the rumor about death panels was a lie; further, illegal aliens will not be covered under the plan.
The words rang out from somewhere to President Obama’s left. The President, Vice President Biden (President of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi all gave withering looks to their left which is the right side of the room– where the republicans are seated. An unknown republican representative from South Carolina yelled it out, immediately eliciting groans and boos from the entire room for his conduct
Joe Wilson’s words finally eliciting some shame from a republican party which has been heretofore shameless.
Joe Wilson matters not because the republicans finally stepped up to the plate and called something unacceptable– remember prior to this, republicans implicitly okayed harassment and shouting down pro reform views in town hall meetings. By not condemning it, republicans implicitly endorsed people bringing guns to presidential speeches. The republicans were running around misleading the public about death panels and illegal aliens and using slogans– “he’s socialist!”– rather than actual arguments. Significant arguments on costs, whether people would lose current coverage, and the logistical handling of the program were all being ignored.
The lies, misdirection, sloganeering, and implicit violent threats all undermine good Republican arguments against health care.
Representative Joe Wilson’s outburst has proved that republicans lied about whether illegal immigrants would be covered under the plan. If you’re a Congressman and you yell “YOU LIE” to the President of the United States during a speech to a joint session of Congress, you better have the facts to back you up. Joe Wilson doesn’t. All reputable “non-commentary” news sources (not places like Hannity on Fox or Rachel Maddow on MSNBC– these shows are not news, but commentary) have called Representative Wilson’s claim false. CBS News reported on September 10, 2009:
Rep. Joe Wilson is wrong.
In his speech to Congress Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the changes to health care that he’s proposing “would not apply to those who are here illegally.” That prompted Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, to shout “You lie!” from his seat in the House chamber. Wilson later apologized for the outburst, but he didn’t back down from his claim.
THE FACTS: The House version of the health care bill explicitly prohibits spending any federal money to help illegal immigrants get health care coverage. Illegal immigrants could buy private health insurance, as many do now, and they could also buy into a new government-run insurance plan if Congress creates one. But unlike legal residents, they wouldn’t get federal subsidies to help them. The bill’s exact language: “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully in the United States.” Health care legislation in the Senate is also being crafted to exclude illegal immigrants from coverage.
Found at : http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/10/ap/congress/main5300952.shtml
Now, Joe Wilson is being roundly criticized for rudely calling the President of the United States a liar as he was speaking, when in fact, it was Joe Wilson that was lying. This could have a chilling effect in that the American people may disregard good arguments republicans have against health care reform as presented by democrats.
You do not lie to the American People. Joe Wilson did.
And he did so on national television.
And proved the President was telling the truth.
Joe Wilson matters because prior to his outburst the American People were listening to talking points– some ridiculous– and rattling off as their own: I don’t want Obama to kill my grandmother!” (who does, by the way?– don’t democrats for health care reform also have grandparents?) “Illegals will get coverage!” (Now proved false).
Unfortunately for Americans, republicans have put themselves in this position. By parroting Rush Limbaugh and his scare tactics rather than making good arguments against reform as provided by the democrats, the party gambled that they would not be called out on their inaccuracies and misdirection. President Obama laid a trap– Joe Wilson waited half a second to take the bait.
The inaction of the republican party to condemn falsehoods coupled with Joe Wilson’s inopportune outburst has now put republicans on the defensive. Were they telling us the truth on healthcare or are they trying to scare us? Republican Representative Joe Wilson cried fire in a full theater when everyone was watching. There wasn’t one. Now, when other republicans scream “FIRE!” and there is one, Americans might not listen.
Posted: September 12th, 2009 under National Politics.