Joe Wilson: A sad example of politics today

South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson’s rude, obnoxious outburst during President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night exemplifies what is wrong with politics and government today.

Wilson shouted out "You lie!" when Obama said his proposed health care reform plan would not provide health insurance to illegal immigrants. Both Republicans and Democrats condemned Wilson’s behavior. Sen. John McCain, Obama’s opponent in the 2008 Presidential election, called Wilson’s shoutout "totally disrespectful."

"There is no place for it in that setting, or any other, and he should apologize for it immediately," McCain said. Wilson later called the White House to apologize, speaking not to Obama but to chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel.

"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me," Wilson said in a statement released by his Congressional office. "While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

Lack of civility? McCain said it better when he called Wilson’s behavior "totally disrespectful."

Totally disrespectful is a good way to describe politics in general in Washington and most of the nation. From the childish behavior during the August town meetings to the shoutfests that replace rational discussion on so-called cable TV "news" shows, the national rhetoric is rude and out of control.

Politics is, and always has been, a tough business where the easily offended need not apply but the decorum that used to surround debate on issues has vanished, replaced by hyperbole, irrational ravings and outright lies.

The rhetoric that dominates the health care debate descended long ago into emotional misinformation fed by rabid ravings from the right.  Obama addressed the issue during his speech Wednesday night.

"It is a lie, plain and simple," Obama told Congress when he discussed the misinformation campaign that Republicans launched against health care.

But Democrats play the game too. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calls those who oppose Obama’s policies "un-American," the type of language we got from the ideologues of the Bush Administration.

During Bush’s eight years in office, opponents called him a "Nazi." I did as well, caught up in my own anger over his administration’s unrelenting assault on the Constitution.

Such language did nothing to further discussion on the issues and was no more constructive than those who now call Obama a "socialist."

Political debate in this country is not constructive. Hasn’t been for a long time.Somewhere along the way, the shouters, the haters and the obstructionists hijacked our system of government.

Joe Wilson’s outburst Wednesday night turns Congress into a sideshow where loudmouthed freaks get the attention but no one takes them seriously. But Congress is a sideshow with the ability to make law and that’s a frightening combination.

"When I make a joke, people laugh," Will Rogers once said. "When Congress makes a joke, it’s a law and when they make a law, it’s a joke."

So true. But no one is laughing.


  1. pinkunite

    Why wouldn’t behavior such as this be punishable by fines or expulsion from the room. This idiot was blatantly disrespectful to the President of the United States and there are no penalties or consequences?

  2. Stratocaster

    Yeah, right. Free speech should be against the law, and everyone that disagrees with our supreme leader should be sent to the nearsest detention center for reprogramming. According to Obama, everyone is full of crap except the people that agree with him. I think the record proves otherwise.

  3. colocritic

    Freedom of speech has nothing to do with it! This jerk and the radical right are totally out of control! This was not a town hall meeting where this type of behavior seems to be the norm but a joint session of Congress to hear what the president of the United States had to say, not only to them but to the people of United States, as well.

    IMHO the setting and the reason for being there should demand respect from all of those present. Whether you agree or disagree, he is our president, and the office of the presidency and the president should deserve respect. Wilson’s rude outburst shows us he’s not mature enough to control his emotions. He made a total fool of himself. I agree with McCain and I’m glad he spoke up.

    His lame apology to Rahm Emmanuel does not suffice! He definitely needs to make an apology directly to
    the president, face to face, man to man. And as punishment, he should have to deliver a sincere apology to the entire Congress, in person, not a written statement. This man does not deserve to be a congressman of our country!


  4. Stratocaster

    Why should the office of the president deserve respect? All those butt holes do to get elected is sell the people a bunch of crap. If that is the criteria for respect, used car salesmen should be held in higher esteem. The only thing I respect is the principle of I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

  5. AustinRanter

    Sounded like a session of Parliment in England.

    Lies, distortions, distractions, minimizing, exaggerations, brazen hate comments, etc…are so common place with Washingtonites who daily inundate TV and radio programs with vile bullshit…why not make a derogatory remark during the President’s speech?

    It was just a matter of time that an outburst such as the one Joe Wilson made would ripple across a joint session of Congress and drown out the president’s address. There isn’t any respect for the “Office of President” anymore.

    The idea of using debate and reason is no longer an option in Washington.

    Joe’s behavior didn’t result in a “one up” incident for the Democrats…or even a “smear” against the Republicans. That was a rip in the fabric of our political system.

    There has been a rally by both Republican members of Congress and conservative hate-mongering television and radio spin jockeys who make claims that have no basis in reality…spew out a call to spread hatred for Obama and the Democrats. They are going to any length to see that the president fails.

    About 50 million citizens who literally despise Obama would cheer on Joe Wilson for what he did. More than likely he would get a hero’s parade down 5th Ave. in New York.

    This country is divided with contempt and hatred because they’ve been literally brainwashed by two political parties who are in a power struggle to gain the annoited favor of the corporations who are at the core of their existence in Washington.

    Had McCain been in office…I have no doubt the situation would be in reverse. The attacks by the Dems would be just as agressive. The liberal pundits would be spewing out hate comments 24/7.

    Our political system is sick…really sick. And now the system’s disease has spread to the heart of America.

  6. Stratocaster

    We have a two party system. The fascists on the right and the communists on the left. Unfortunately, neither has anything to do with government of the people, by the people, for the people.

  7. GovtFlu

    He just couldn’t help it.

    Wilson was overcome by a massive energy surge generated by the collective conscious of humanity. It’s about time one of “them” was in tune with the masses and yelled what millions of “us” were thinking…

  8. Carl Nemo

    Juxtaposed against the politically correct outrage concerning Wilson’s comments; I thought I’d offer the thoughts of John Barry one of Newsweek’s contributing editorial writers. Barry is no mental lightweight and I admire his thoughts on many issues. I’m offering a link to his comments to the Newsweek “Gaggle”, their forum for shared thoughts and a second link concerning his bonafides.

    To me this entire Wilson debacle is another tempest in a teapot. I surely hope not too many undies were soiled as a function of his spot-on coment; ie., “You Lie”…! : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  9. gazelle1929

    Disregarding the notion that Wilson attacked not the President but the institution of the Presidency, something with which you will no doubt disagree, you are saying that when the President said no illegal immigrants would be covered that he was lying?

    If you believe he was lying, please tell us what the truth is and where you came across it. How can you possibly know that such a statement about a bill that is still in committee and still in a state of extreme flux can possibly be a lie?

  10. bogofree

    At least he didn’t go after him with a cane and beat him senseless. This will play well in his home direict…watch his poll numbers shoot up.

  11. spartacus

    Er… actually, they’ve gone down. Perhaps you thought that the reference to beating a black man in reference to a man from South Carolina was humorous?

    It was inextremely bad taste.

    I won’t comment on the other implication of such a tasteless statement.

  12. spartacus

    You are exactly what is wrong with the fringes of the right wing. Where does this stuff come from? What the record proves is that the right wing in this country has become so paranoid that they’re acting delusional. Reprogrammimg? Detention centers? Are you kidding me? Is it that: there’s a Democrat in office; his name is Barack Hussein Obama; or that he’s black? Is it all of the above? It wasn’t this bad during Watergate!!!

    Crazy doesn’t begin to cover it. Out of control is an understatement. Whatever is going on, it’s off the charts.

    By the way: at the very least, even if YOU cannot be civil to someone with a differing viewpoint, a CONGRESSMAN sitting in a joint session of Congress has a responsiblity to himself, his constituents, and to the office of the President to behave with decorum and respect. While those attending and disrupting town hall meetings may want to act like children, an elected official in this government is supposed to know better. I have friends who work for the RNC: they’d never act like Joe Wilson, nor apparently you. When Bush stood in front of Congress and repeated statements that were nothing more than lies debunked 2 or 3 years earlier by his own people, Democrats, who knew he was lying, DIDN’T shout ‘you’re a liar’. What makes it worse is that Obama was telling the truth! Democrats DIDN’T hold up signs during any of Bush’s speeches, showing a lack of respect for his office, as Republicans did last night. The Republican party is out of control: whether it’s being caused by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the far right fringe that believes his hate spewed garbage, Fox Noise, paranoia or simply by sheer stupidity I haven’t a clue. However, these people need to get a grip on reality before they start believing in flying monkeys and tornadoes carrying houses to magical kingdoms. Once they do that, they might want to do away with the FEMA budget altogether. After all, isn’t that where Obama’s detention camps are supposed to originate?

  13. spartacus

    It’s actually wtitten in all 3 versions of the bill that illegal aliens will not be covered by this bill. You should look it up on it’s a simple thing to do. It might also alleviate some of the other fears you have about the bill.

  14. JudyB

    Wilson was rude, arrogant and WRONG! Spartacus was absolutely right in his is written in all three versions of the proposed bill, that illegal immigrants will not be covered! There was no lie told, nor could there have been, since the bill has not been passed, it’s still in committee.
    I have added Joe Wilsons name to the endless list of elected, glory seeking fools!

    I was actually surprised that there were not multiple outbursts like the one Joe Wilson made last night, when Bush was at the helm. God knows there were provable lies told almost every time that man or his people spoke….the fact that it never happened proves that people are capable of controlling their emotions

    This is a nation with major problems to deal with. Unless we are willing to pull together, ignoring party lines, and get busy doing whats best for the nation, it will only get worse.

  15. GovtFlu


    An a-hole shouted at an idiot during some dull televised govt propaganda, interrupting the fascist gala for, OMFG, a few shocking seconds!!

    Wow… I think the DC Mafia clowns who were victimized by the 1/2 sec ordeal will be ok after counseling.