Leave it to our esteemed House of Representatives to get it backward in the matter of South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson.
Last week, the House officially “admonished” Wilson for shouting “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s address to Congress about health care reform. By a vote of 240-179, the lawmakers, using the highfalutin’ lingo that’s their specialty, huffed that Wilson was guilty of “a breach of decorum that degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House. Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of the representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson.”
With that statement, our representatives, far from admonishing Wilson, actually admonished themselves. The resolution of disapproval showed exactly what’s wrong with the House. And I’ll tell you what’s wrong in one brief, succinct sentence: Our representatives don’t raise enough hell.
Wilson is my kind of representative, the kind who, when he thinks the president is lying, will shout out “You’re lying!” Apparently, Wilson went to Congress in 2001 thinking his job was to be a representative, a member of the legislative branch of government whose duty is to keep the executive and judicial branches in check.
It’s called “a system of checks and balances,” people. Wilson knows what it is. Now he knows 240 of his colleagues have no idea what it is.
Members of the House should shout out “You lie!” when they think the president is telling stretchers. They sure as heck shouldn’t cower to the chief executive. Can you imagine how that Vietnam War scenario would have turned out if, back in 1964, a member of either the House or the Senate had shouted “You lie!” when President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution?
Johnson told the senators and representatives that North Vietnamese patrol boats had fired on the USS Maddox. It later transpired that the Maddox hadn’t been fired on at all. Johnson, who said during the 1964 presidential campaign that he had no intention of sending “American boys to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves” — and then did precisely that — lied to Congress.
Oh, where was a Joe Wilson when we really needed him?
Well, we have him now. And contrary to what his detractors are saying, have said and will continue to say, I think we have a good one. A look at his biography indicates as much.
Wilson served 17 years in the South Carolina state senate, with the Army Reserves and the South Carolina Army National Guard. He’s on the House Armed Services Committee, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Education and Labor. Wilson also served on the staffs of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond and Rep. Floyd Spence. He was a deputy counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy during the Reagan administration.
Reading that bio, I couldn’t help but think, “Now here’s a man with more bona fide credentials to run for president than one Barack Hussein Obama ever had.” And that’s the truth. Some might conclude that Wilson shouted his comment at Obama out of envy, that he was angry with the man Wilson felt was sitting in his Oval Office chair.
I don’t buy that, but it sounds more reasonable than the other charge being leveled against Wilson: that he shouted “You lie!” at Obama because he’s a racist. I suspect there aren’t many surprised by that. “You’re a racist” is, of late, the first, last, indeed only defense those on the left have on many occasions. The sole pitcher the lefties have in their bullpen is the guy who can only throw one pitch: the racism fastball.
The racist charge won’t stick to Wilson. I’m betting the tough, no-nonsense representative tag does. Who do Americans want as representatives anyway? Ones like the legislators on the Baltimore City Council?
The Baltimore legislators have a reputation for groveling before the mayor. It was so shameful at one point that I called them all “the punt-on-first-down crew.” And they weren’t content to just punt on first down; sometimes, they would punt on first and five.
My guess is you’ll never see Wilson punting to Obama — or any other president — on any down. Way to go, Wilson. And the next time Obama addresses a joint session of Congress, stick it to him again.
Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.