U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, my frat brother from South Carolina (shown above shakily defending his fiction-based slur of the president), was the star of boorish behavior, but he was by no means alone in the uncivil Republican mob at President Obama’s speech last night. Dana Milbank rounds it up for the Washington Post.
The national debate, already raw for years, had coarsened over the summer as town hall meetings across the country dissolved into protests about “death panels” and granny-killing. Guns were brought to Obama appearances. A pastor in Arizona said he was praying for Obama to die.
But even by that standard, there was something appalling about the display on the House floor for what was supposed to be a sacred ritual of American democracy: the nation watching while Cabinet members, lawmakers from both chambers and the diplomatic corps assembled.
Wilson was only the most flagrant. There was booing from House Republicans when the president caricatured a conservative argument by saying they would “leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.” They hissed when he protested their “scare tactics.” They grumbled as they do in Britain’s House of Commons when Obama spoke of the “blizzard of charges and countercharges.”
Etc. Congressman Joe’s website is still down for “maintenance.”
A couple of my irreverent Sigma Nu brothers (Republicans themselves and not Obama admirers) have been getting a little bit of amusement out of Joe’s discomfort. It seems he high-hatted them at a South Carolina university function a few years back. They were having a cocktail (or three) and surmise they might not have fit Joe’s idea of suitable associates.