Thursday, September 10, 2009
Retired Army Reserve Colonel Joe Wilson dissed his commander in chief last night.
I can’t think of a famous one-word quote. But with two words, “You lie,” a relative non-entity, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, became deservedly infamous.
In all likelihood, his two words also made him more of a loser in 2010 than he is now. Before he could say “I’m sorry” (exactly the same number of syllables and the cadence of “jack rabbit”), Republican Party leaders were apologizing for him. Before Rush Limbaugh could say, “I was ecstatic when I heard that last night,” the campaign coffers of Wilson’s Democratic opponent in 2010, Rob Miller, had swelled from a reported $150,000 in donations in the first hour after Wilson’s outburst to $500,000 and climbing this afternoon.
Little wonder. In style and substance, by any measure of civility, Joe Wilson was outrageously out of line last night. In sharp contrast to President Obama’s mellifluousness, Representative Wilson shouted. In contrast to the president’s show of respect for all people, the congressman showed unrestrained disrespect for the president who, according to Article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, is the commander in chief of the United States—therefore of Colonel Wilson, a four-year reserve colonel and eighteen-year National Guard colonel (ret.). To make matters worse for Wilson, candidate Rob Miller is a former Marine. By shooting off his mouth last night, Wilson seems not only to have shot himself in the foot, but also to have taken direct aim on the other one.
With his two little words, he may have been the one who was lying (Rush the one swearing by it). Obama denied that his health care proposal would cover illegal immigrants. Section 246 of the House Democrats' proposal H.R. 3200 limits "federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States," but it’s inconclusive and still a work in progress. By no interpretation does it give anyone license to point a finger and use such pointedly strong language. Unless license is callously taken by one who deliberately intends to mislead others.
Wilson is apparently known in Congress for giving the briefest of speeches. Last night, he outdid and probably undid himself.