Someone please explain this to me. If the Republicans in Congress can successfully manage to maintain enough discipline in their own ranks so that none of them or at most one or two of them vote in favor of a healthcare bill sponsored by Democrats, why should this be considered a poor reflection on the bill itself? The Republicans are clearly aiming to block any healthcare bill. They have be unwilling to compromise, and have offered no demands that could possibly lead to a compromise. In fact, they have demonized healthcare reform itself as a form of “socialism” and have demonized Obama personally. Most importantly, they see opposition to any healthcare reform bill as a means of destroying Obama’s presidency (or at least severely weakening it). Their opposition is not primarily based on policy differences, but rather partisan considerations. Given this, how on Earth could their opposition reflect poorly on an individual bill? If you want to buy a car and I say I will oppose you buying any car at all and then go about impugning car ownership in general, how could my opposition to your car purchase reflect in any way the model you buy or its color?
More importantly, who gives a shit if the Republicans support it or not? Why is bipartisanship a good thing? The American voters put Obama in the White House by an enormous margin and gave the Democrats overwhelming majorities in Congress. Obama campaigned on healthcare reform. Public opinion supports healthcare reform. Assuming we still live in a democracy in which majorities decide such things, and we had a contested election in which one side emerged as a clear victor supporting a particular set of policies, should the victors not then seek to implement those policies? Is it not to be expected that the opposition, who campaigned against those policies, would seek to block them?
The Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008. Losing elections does not give you power. Winning elections does. If the Republicans want to have a say on healthcare, they should go win an election.

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Joe Wilson, or Joe the Congressman as he shall be known (once you become an icon of the far right, you get a Sesame Streetesque moniker involving a regular-folks American name like Joe or Sarah and an occupation – it’s kind of a rule), sees opportunity where others see tragedy:

Note how he manages to get all of the following in there:

1. Apologizing for boorish behavior (really being forced to do so my GOP leadership) is a badge of honor, something heroic and utterly stand-up and adult.

2. Healthcare reform is “life-and-death.” By opposing the Democrats’ reforms, Joe stands for “life.” So what does that leave the Democrats with? Awesome. Getting the death panels in there without saying “panels.” It’s just plain “death.” These guys are sharp, I’ll tell you. Watch out, seniors, the GOP, suddenly now the guardians of Medicare’s single-payer, government-funded-and-run healthcare system, are going to protect you from Democrats who want to rain death down on the aged.

3. The apology has nothing to do with the substance of what he said. The reiteration of “liberals” wanting healthcare for “illegals” is a reaffirmation of his charge that the president was lying. So here’s the narrative: the president was indeed lying, and Joe the Congressman, protector of the elderly and the glorious Republic and its citizens, was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he could not contain himself in the face of such lies. He called Obama out. He was right, but it was kinda sorta inappropriate…even though Obama’s not the real president because he’s a Kenyan Muslim, and the British call each other liars all the time in their Congress or something (just to note a fact: while they do heckle, it is against the rules in the House of Commons for Members to accuse the speaker of lying – just saying).

4. Joe couldn’t help but blurt something out because the People were speaking through him. He got all riled up by those town meetings that he was carrying along We the People’s outrage. Not his fault.

5. I heckled the president and called him a liar on national television. Then I was forced to apologize because that hurts my party leadership. Give me money.

One important way of looking at this is that while this (essentially trivial) episode will likely hurt the GOP and strengthen the chances of getting a healthcare bill passed, it helps at least one individual: Joe Wilson. Sure, some lefties will give money to his opponent in 2010 (who has already raised more than $100,000 in 24 hours), but let’s face it – a Democrat is not going to win in Wilson’s South Carolina district. Wilson supported flying the Confederate flag over SC’s state house, for chrissakes. This is South Carolina we’re talking about here. Two days ago nobody had ever heard of Joe Wilson. Now he’s a hero of the right wing. Karl Rove called him a “good guy” on Fox. He’s news story #1. Sure, most people don’t like him. Sure, it’ll turn independents and moderate Republicans further away from the GOP. But Joe doesn’t care about that – he doesn’t answer to those people. He cares about the right wing nutbars that got him elected in South Carolina, and he cares about those future appearances on Fox or the Sarah Palin Show (watch for it, people) or Glenn Beck or whatever other circus out there is going to pay him more money than he ever dreamed of before “you lie” left his mouth. Joe’s a somebody now. Watch out, Sarah the Former Governor.

Oh, and his real name is Addison Graves Wilson, Sr. But hey, are any of the Joes really named Joe? When do we get the photos of him hunting wolves or something?

“YOU LIE!!!”

September 10, 2009

Apparently the press is going to focus on Joe Wilson’s outburst and overlook the fact that the Republicans as a whole were heckling the president throughout his speech, chortling and smirking, and holding up silly signs. Shockingly juvenile? Well, juvenile. No longer so shocking. Frightening, maybe. Read Dana Milbank in the Washington Post for a good summary of the GOP frat-boy behavior during the speech. He leaves out, though, Eric Cantor’s attachment to his Blackberry.

Also, how stupid do you have to be to believe the Democrats would write a bill that covered illegal immigrants (I’ll leave aside the abominably stupid death-panel claim)? Mind you, it might be a good idea to provide healthcare for illegal immigrants, considering that’s millions of people who live and work in the United States. However, given what Joe Average thinks about “the illegals,” what sort of idiot believes that the Democrats would commit political hari kari so spectacularly? I suppose the same rocket scientists who believe that the president is a closet Socialist/Islamist (I’m going with the term Islamunist, by the way).