Rep. Joe Wilson has formally apologized for his outburst during President Obama’s speech last night. Some say that the outburst was uncalled for as it showed a lack of respect for the Office of the President, the Halls of Congress, and our very system of government.
Yet…as you watch that video, you come to the realization that it wasn’t Joe Wilson who first showed a lack of respect for our hallowed institutions. President Obama initiated the exchange, and he has yet to apologize for his behavior. Tim Burns comments in Power Line:
Just a brief addendum on the troubling accusations of lying. Joe Wilson’s accusation of lying has already been roundly condemned, as it should be. The presumption of honorableness, and hence of the possibility of honest disagreement, is crucial to the practice of free speech and democratic debate. An accusation of lying is for that reason considered in parliamentary democracies to be “unparliamentary language,” would get a member “named,” i.e. suspended, and would require a formal apology. It’s good to see that Wilson has already sought to apologize.
Trouble is, President Obama has not. And his speech must be condemned on the same grounds as Wilson’s outburst. Before Wilson’s outburst, Obama––delivering prepared remarks––had already accused his opponents of lying–not by name, to be sure, but as “prominent politicians.” And in doing so, he explicitly attributed malicious motives to them:
“Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.”
It would be interesting to know whether any president before now has ever done this in a formal address to congress. And it would be interesting to speculate on what the formal penalty should be for doing so. A prime minister must in a parliamentary democracy avoid unparliamentary language, as must any other member of parliament. What should happen when the speaker is the president, appearing as invited guest? Again, has this ever happened before and if so, with what result?
I’ve stayed on top of this issue, and I have never heard ANY politician make the claim that ANYONE plans to set up panels with the power to “kill off senior citizens”, at best, that’s is a gross exaggeration by the President. At worst, it is an outright lie.
President Obama also addressed the issue of insurance coverage for illegal immigrants, with questionable veracity:
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
The “reforms” being “proposed” by the President lacks verbiage which would require verfication of immigration status to access benefits. In addition, given the opportunity to introduce a verification system, Democrats voted it down.
Lastly, the President’s claim of 46 million uninsured in America INCLUDES illegal aliens…why count them if you have no intention of covering them?
While Tim may very well be correct in his belief that no President before Obama has showed such disrespect for members of Congress, members of Congress have in fact shown a lack of respect for the President in the past. In 2005, they “booed” President George W. Bush during his State of the Union address.
Someone lied last night alright, but it wasn’t Rep. Wilson.
He may have very well spoken the only truth heard by anyone during last night’s speech.