Judging by the onslaught of news stories, and a flurry of status updates by my friends on Facebook, the outburst by Republican congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina during President Obama’s speech on health-care reform lies somewhere on the scale of infamy between embarrassing and traitorous — not nearly as bad as Oswald on the grassy knoll, but way worse than the Howard Dean scream.
Did I say “lies”? Sorry, bad choice of words.
For the uninitiated, Rep. Wilson shouted the words “You lie!” during President Obama’s speech, right after Obama reassured his listeners that the provisions under his health-care plan would not apply to illegal immigrants — a claim that has been verified several times over.
This act of blatant disrespect to the sitting commander-in-chief, while now officially apologized for and forgiven, has been, as most aspects of Presidential media events tend to be, decried, analyzed, rebutted, and rehashed ad nauseam by Obama supporters and moderate independents of every stripe. Even Senator John McCain, Obama’s former rival in the 2008 presidential election, denounced Rep. Wilson’s brief eruption.
Though some conservatives are hailing Wilson as a hero, the general consensus is that his heckling was a travesty.
For liberals, there has been some good news resulting from the outburst. Suddenly Obama and the Democrats look like the more civil and decorous side in the health-care battle. What’s more, there was an outpouring of support for Democrat Rob Miller, Wilson’s opponent in the 2010 midterm election. One report says donations to Miller’s campaign in the day following Obama’s speech totaled a staggering $700,000.
Perhaps, once the vitriol directed at Wilson subsides, we can add to that list another even more important outcome.
So here is my impassioned plea: Supporters of President Obama … let’s remember this moment.
Remember the outrage, the indignation, the absolute fury that many of you have been directing at Joe Wilson for his behavior, and at many of his Republican allies for their similar, though less outrageously strident, political opposition.
Savor that feeling. You’re going to need it later.
I’m not sure how much later you’ll need it … perhaps as early as 2012, though realistically maybe not until 2016.
You see, sooner or later, there will be another whirlwind of change that will blow through Washington, and it very likely could involve another Republican in the Oval Office. If or when that happens, you’re going to need to remember how much you believed in honoring the office of the president, regardless of who is actually in it.
You’ll need to remember how repugnant you thought it was that the then-current president couldn’t schedule a first-day-of-school address without touching off a fresh batch of conservative protests, including allegations of covert liberal indoctrination.
(Forgive my digression here, but few things amuse me more than hearing conservatives murmur about Obama “having an agenda” of some sort. Really? Ya think? The President of the United States of America actually has a set of goals and priorities that he wants to enact? Fascinating.)
I’m taking this time to give liberals advance notice now, because it seems like most of them don’t remember exactly how severe a media beating was regularly unleashed on ol’ Dubya after all the weapons of mass destruction came up missing.
And don’t play dumb, either. I can hear some of you already.
I never behaved THAT badly. My friends and I were never THAT belligerent and obnoxious.
Maybe, maybe not.
All I know is, driving around my hometown of Portland during 2006 and 2007 was, among other things, an exercise in reading snarky leftist bumper stickers like “Fire the Liar,” “Somewhere In Texas There’s a Village Without Its Idiot,” and “When Clinton Lied, No One Died.”
(And those were the few that I could quote on a Christian website.)
Clearly, the memo on bipartisan presidential respect didn’t make the rounds enough times for us all to get it. So consider this a reminder.
Oh, and one more thing. If you really want to support President Obama, you can start a new letter-writing campaign to his communication staff, telling them that if his health-care legislation passes, they might want to avoid printing a banner with the words “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” emblazoned on the front.