Thursday, September 10, 2009

Congressman to Obama: "You lie!"

I didn't watch the president's health care speech to Congress last night; I plan to read a transcript of it later. But I read this morning that the president's remarks were interrupted by an outburst from South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson.

The night's defining moment — which Democrats hope to transform into a turning point — came when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted "You lie!" as Obama claimed his plan wouldn't offer free care to illegal immigrants.

Wilson's boorishness — for which he quickly apologized — enraged audience members on both sides of the aisle.

I have to admit to having mixed emotions about this. My overwhelming reaction is that this behavior is indeed boorish. It shames both Wilson and his party. But there is a small part of me -- the part which is fed up with what is politely called "misinformation" or "disingenuousness" but should rightly be called lies -- that uttered a muffled yes! within the inner sanctums of my thoughts.

You see, it's maddening to hear proponents of Obamacare continue to make claims about the costs and coverage and specifics of the plan that are flatly contradicted by history and the best available analysis. I commented to a friend last night that I can't think of any issue of this import in which the arguments on one said so clearly and completely outclass the arguments on the other. Abortion, the death penalty, education, the war -- all these issues are well debated on both sides. I have opinions on them, strong opinions in some cases, but I can at least acknowledge that there are sound arguments against those opinions, arguments that must be weighed and considered against the arguments that I ultimately find compelling.

This really isn't so with Obamacare. It's a poor idea -- on constitutional grounds, on financial grounds, on moral grounds, on efficacy grounds. There really isn't an aspect of Obamacare that doesn't fall apart upon serious examination. It simply won't do what they say it will do, and more Americans are figuring this out the longer the debate continues. Which is why "we must act immediately," because "we can't afford to delay" dealing with this awful "crisis." (Then why does the plan not go in effect for four years, after the next presidential election?)

So in the end, proponents of the plan have nothing to stand on. They have no choice but to resort to "misinformation", "misrepresentation," "mischaracterization." But there comes a time when you have to set politeness aside and call a lie a lie, or even a damned lie.

And so, I think it's understandable to have a visceral reaction (yes!) to someone finally saying it like they see it . So while I join those who condemn Wilson for his outburst -- you just don't disrespect the office of the presidency, especially on the floor of the Senate. This isn't Britain, after all -- you'll forgive me if I allow myself at least a small celebratory yes! in reaction to someone finally "telling it like it is," "keeping it real," and "speaking truth to power."

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