Friday, September 11, 2009
Joey Wilson's War
Trust Democrats to overplay a good hand.
Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" during President Obama's health care address has become the unofficial Republican response -- letting President Obama keep the offensive going. GOP congressional leaders are embarrassed. They asked Wilson to apologize; he only grudgingly accepted (South Carolina politicians have a history of not listening to other members of their own party).
A poll in his district shows that Wilson's previously perceived safe seat is now in danger. Rob Miller, Wilson's announced challenger, has been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of donations in the immediate 48 hours after the outburst. (Wilson also raised money off the incident, but a whole lot less).
So, with all this going on, of course, the Democrats would just step back and let Wilson and the Republicans stumble around, right? They would follow that old adage of not getting in the way of your opponents when they're in the middle of self-destructing, right?
House Democratic leaders plan to bring a resolution to the House floor next week to admonish South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson if he does not apologize on the House floor for his outburst during President Obama's joint address to Congress, according to several House Democratic leadership aides.
"He's violated the rules of the House with inappropriate conduct and he's subject to reprimand," said Kristie Greco, spokeswoman for House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina.
Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said that Wilson violated House rules — but also said that it was "time for us to talk about health care and not Mr. Wilson."
Pelosi would be wise to get her troops in order and not let this resolution gather any steam. This looks like the Democrats piling on one member who has already apologized both in an official statement and in a personal call to the White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Obama took the high road Thursday, accepted Wilson's apology and said it's time to move on. Trying to keep the story going into a second week makes congressional Democrats look like they're more interested in crafting political advantage than in trying to uphold parliamentary protocol. Besides, a case can be made that Wilson might, technically, not have violated House rules. A determination would ultimately come down to a party-line vote. But do Democrats really want to have a lengthy debate that might come down to the parsing of the president's words in a speech -- and Wilson's interpretation of them? Probably not.
Go ahead, Democrats, turn Wilson into a victim in front of the entire country. While his outburst may have struck many as boorish, the fact that he did already apologize makes these actions against him seem rather petty.