Friday, September 11, 2009

The Real Lesson of Joe Wilson's Outburst

When Joe Wilson yelled, "you lie!" during President Obama's healthcare speech the other night, he got uniformly blasted in the blogosphere on both the left and the right (undoubtedly he had some supporters, but the coverage I read was overwhelmingly negative). And deservedly so. Outbursts like that show disrespect, both for the President and the traditions of the U.S. Congress. Frankly, it looked like the British Parliament, and nobody wants that.

Even if he was right, that sort of behavior is wrong and should be frowned upon. But lost in all the hoopla over one overzealous/unspeakably rude congressman, was another statement the President made that the opposition party objected to.

The President alluded in the speech (and in many other addresses in the past) to the belief that Republicans only obstruct; they have no ideas of their own. It seems several senators and representatives anticipated this jibe and came prepared.

Rather than shout, however, these congressmen waved copies of the thirty bills Republicans have introduced in the House and Senate to address healthcare reform. I'm not going to make any claims about the efficacy or practicability of these bills; the point is that when the President says the GOP don't have any solutions, only complaints, he is being less than honest with the American people.

Notice, however, that for all Joe Wilson's impropriety, the policy to which he objected got addressed: lawmakers are now scrambling to close all the loopholes that Wilson derided.

Until you read it here, you most likely had no idea that the Republicans have been introducing healthcare legislation for a long time now. Which says a lot about how this debate is being run. When dealing with a bully pulpit one sometimes has to act like a brat to get to the truth, which is unfortunate.

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