The Democrats' Big Media comrades are circling around South Carolina's representative Joe Wilson like vultures over fresh road kill. When Barack Obama claimed during his Wednesday night set piece that his health industry power grab would not cover illegal aliens, Wilson shouted, "You lie!"
In doing so, Wilson showed unusual common sense in noticing that the emperor's clothes seemed somewhat lacking, but he also showed an uncommon lack of tact. It was a serious breach of etiquette.
Heckling is frowned upon in the august halls of Congress. That's probably a good thing, given the disdain most folks have for that body. According to Gallup, Americans' regard for Congress have never been lower than they are now for this Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid-led gang. If heckling was allowed, Congress wouldn't be allowed to hear themselves talk.
Perhaps worse for Wilson, though, calling someone a liar just isn't done in Washington. At least publicly. Just about any synonym--fabrication, prevarication, fiction--can be used, but never, ever is someone publicly accused of lying.
It's just not done.
Until Wednesday night, when the unwritten stricture was broken by ... Barack Obama.
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.
While he didn't name names, by referring to "prominent politicians," Obama was giving the rhetorical finger to at least some of the 535 members of Congress seated in front of him. After all, from Democrats' top-down, statist perspective, all prominent politicians are, by definition, in Washington.
Whether or not Obamacare would establish the 'death panels' as carefully parsed by Obama's speechwriters, it's a certainty that, if they don't pull the plug on Grandma, Obamacare pill counters will be rationing her electricity.
Yet, Obama was calling some of the people seated before him, liars, in front of a national television audience; they will never be afforded the same venue to rebut the charges.
In his very next sentence, Obama said,
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 media greeted Wilson's eruption with the aplomb and generosity it usually shows Obama's critics.
With this sneering epithet--and a glare of disgust that almost melted the rims of his designer eyeglasses--The Sportscaster on MSNBC, unintentionally revealed the disdain with which the elite media holds most of the country and his own sniveling hypocrisy.
Goober, of course, is a regional appellation used because of Wilson's South Carolinian roots. But, sure as FNC's ratings will top MSNBC's, Wilson would have drawn the same contempt--Okie!, Hoosier!, Hick!--if he had been from anywhere else in flyover country. To the media elite, most of our great nation is no more than a trifling inconvenience which needlessly prolongs their flights from New York and Washington to the West Coast.
"Outrageous!", other commentators on the Place for Propaganda called Wilson's explosion.
Hypocrisy!, I reply.
More than once, utterances could be heard--although perhaps not as distinctly--as Democrats routinely hissed and jeered George W. Bush when he spoke to joint sessions of Congress. Bush's speeches were also marked by disruptions from the gallery. Those, and disturbances at other Republican events during the Bush administration, were orchestrated by leftist radicals who had often used credentials from their friends in the media to gain access.
MSNBC was specifically named as the source of those credentials in at least one instance.
The feigned indignation at Wilson's outburst reminds me of an incident I covered as a cub reporter. Nelson Rockefeller, who had been supplanted by Bob Dole on the Republican ticket, was campaigning with Dole in upstate New York. Rockefeller, tired of being heckled and no longer running for office himself, turned to a particularly obnoxious group of protesters and gave them a prolonged one-digit salute, an ebullient grin splitting his face.
When asked why a sitting Vice-President of the United States had made a profane gesture in such a public setting, Rockefeller replied, "I was just responding in kind."
Joe Wilson's outburst was also inappropriate, but maybe he was just responding in kind.
William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author.