President Obama's speech last night demonstrated pretty clearly that he's committed to health-care reform, and most of Congress will support him. One Congressman, Joe Wilson (R-SC), decided to channel his inner Preston Brooks and...well, here's what the papers say:
Help me out here: does anyone recall the last time a congressman called the president a liar to his face during of a joint session of Congress?
He’s the face behind the off-camera shout of “You lie” after President Obama declared that his proposed health care legislation will not—repeat not—provide health care to illegal immigrants. Psst! Somebody please tell Rep. Wilson this is the U. S. Congress, not Question Time in Britain’s Parliament or a Town Hall meeting in Beaufort.
(One should note, of course, that while MPs may heckle each other during Question Time, none would do so during an actual speech. Also, during Parliamentary debates, members are forbidden to address each other, and can be expelled for doing so. "You lie!" would get the member tossed out; "Mr. Speaker, the Honorable Member from Basingfolly-on-Turdswallop lies!" is the correct form.)
Rep. Wilson has since apologized (sort of; watch the video and let me know what you think), though some want him to do so on the floor of the House.
As one observer remarked, the opposition have mistaken the United States Congress for a College Republicans convention.
The President has since said of the flap, "We all make mistakes. He apologized quickly and without equivocation. We have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big, important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name calling, without the assumption of the worst in other people's motives."
Thank you, Mr. President.
Quick update: In the few short hours since the outburst, Wilson's Democratic opponent has raised over $100,000, and pulled ahead of Wilson in fundraising. Talk about a career-limiting move.