By Rattus Scribus©
11 Sept 2009
Who the heck was that, I wondered, who spat out "You lie" as President Obama gave his speech on health care reform? Behind Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi grimaced in a mixed emotion of surprise and disgust. The President stopped for a moment, then continued. He never lost his composure.
I thought President Obama's speech that night was among the most statesman-like I have seen in my adult life by a U.S. President, especially given the divisive nature of the topic. Of course, many will not agree with me: basically everyone who didn't vote for him, didn't like him then and can't like him now: "I cannot, I will not recant."
However, even if you don't agree with everything President Obama says, you have to give him this: his statesmanship is undeniable. His September 9th televised speech was like watching an episode of The West Wing, a program I used to watch and think: I wish we had a President with this kind of intelligence and desire for fair play and looking out for the other bloke.
As an American, I have been washed and rinsed repeatedly for so long by political foolery about "the real America" versus "Eastern liberal elites," or government health care "death panels" and the like, that I forgot what other-oriented statesmanship might be like. I suspect I'm not alone.
On that Wednesday night, Rep. Joe Wilson (R - SC) appeared as the polar opposite of all that. His outburst was like vomit on the clean stage of civility. A drunk pan-caking a Humvee in a wilderness preserve. Joe Wilson displayed blatant disrespect for the office of the President, he was unprofessional, even childish, certainly mean. He obviously thought he could turn an esteemed chamber of our government into a town hall shouting match (a verbal rendition of Brooks caning Sumner on the Senate floor) ironically, the very thing Obama was calling an end to.
In comparison with President Obama's call for cooperation across party lines and civility in discourse, modeled by his own calm and rational demeanor, Joe Wilson looked liked a common rabble rouser, a rustic villager in a Frankenstein movie carrying a torch and a pitchfork: "Arrrgh! You lie! Kill the monster!"
Maybe our government could get more done in the way of meaningful change if there were fewer rabble rousers and more statesmen.