Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The U.S. House admonishes Rep. Joe Wilson (R-Sons of Confederate Veterans)

By a vote of 240 - 179, with 5 present and 10 members not voting, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to "disapprove" of Rep. Joe Wilson's behavior during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress last week. Reuters coverage here.

In case you have a really short memory, Wilson is the South Carolina Republican who shouted "you lie!" at the President during the speech.

The vote was almost totally along party lines, with only 12 Democrats crossing over to vote against the resolution disapproving of Wilson's breach of House decorum and only 7 Republicans voting to support the resolution.

In a curious twist, 2 of the 19 crossovers came from AZ - Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ8) voted against, and Jeff Flake (R-AZ6) voted for it.

From Giffords' statement on the vote -

It is unfortunate that Congressman Wilson has not apologized to our colleagues for his rude outburst. He should. Heckling the President of the United States while he is addressing a joint session of Congress is totally unacceptable for a member of this body. The American people know this and Congressman Wilson knows this – that is why he apologized to President Obama. We should not waste any more time on this matter. We need to stay focused on health insurance reform and improving our economy.
From Flake's statement on the vote -

Congressman Wilson is a good man, and I have confidence that his apology to President Obama was sincere,” said Flake. “However, his actions violated the rules of decorum of the House of Representatives.

While the tenor of political debate seems to get more disrespectful every year, the floor of the House of Representatives has always provided a welcome respite. Even the fiercest political opponents refer to each other as ‘gentleman’ and afford one another civility and respect. We need to uphold that tradition.

Despite my suspicion that this resolution was driven as much by partisan politics as upholding precedent, I believe that it’s important to maintain the rules of decorum in the House and I supported its passage.
John Shadegg (R-Big Insurance) also has a statement out there, but it's a little less statesman-like than the other two ("stateswoman-like" in Giffords' case) - he blames the Democrats for the outburst, conflating Wilson's direct and personal insult of the President in the House chamber (interrupting and heckling President Obama) with Democratic criticisms of then-President Bush.

Even though Bush wasn't speaking when the criticisms were issued.

Even though there is a big difference between saying "No!" (in response to President Bush's call to "reform" (aka "privatize") Social Security and screaming "You lie!"

Even though none of the Democratic "transgressions" that he cited ever inspired a similar rebuke, despite the fact that they occurred during a period when Shadegg's Republicans controlled the House. If any Democrats had even *looked* over the line between decorous and indecorous behavior, the punishments would have been swift and much harsher than mere "disapproval."

For what it's worth, if I was a member of the House, like Congresswoman Giffords, I'd have voted against the resolution.

Not because I'm a nice guy or a budding statesman (I'm not) and not because I support Wilson's behavior (he's a bigoted thug who should do the world a favor and slither back under whatever rock he was hatched under).

Nope, I'd have voted against the measure so that I could be as uncivil toward Wilson and his ilk as they are toward President Obama and the Democrats.

Toldja I'm not a nice guy. :)

Of course, that thinking probably isn't unique to me, and probably contributed to the passage of the resolution. Most Democratic members of the House are far more mature than I am, and realize what kind of damage that attitude would do to the remaining civility in the House.

However, if such a situation were to come to pass (you know, me in the House voting against a similar resolution), I can promise one thing.

Whenever I called someone a liar (or corrupt, or bigoted, or whatever), I'd have evidence with me and wouldn't, you know, lie when calling someone else a liar. Like Joe Wilson did. See section 246 of H.R. 3200.

Relevant phrase - "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

Tedski's take at R-Cubed here;



Zelph said...

Personally I like to see some people stand up and yell "You lie!" during the next special session of the Arizona legislature when the Rethugs claim that the cut to education is "only 2%". Civility is overrated.

cpmaz said...

"Civility is overrated."

I think that they know that, which is why they've turned schools and parking lots on private property into armed encampments, while not similarly allowing firearms in the galleries of the Senate and House.