Jb's Blog

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Joe Wilson’s Spontaneous Outburst

with 2 comments

Until this week, I confess that I didn’t know who Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) was. But on Wednesday night, during President Obama’s address to Congress, with what he later described as a “spontaneous” outburst of emotion, Joe Wilson suddenly became something of a hero. Until he quickly apologized.

Imagine the immense pressure that was brought on this man to apologize. From both his own party and from the opposition. From the House leadership. And likely from forces that we’ll never hear about, until perhaps when he’s on his death bed and he knows they can no longer do him any harm, either politically or physically.

Most of the denouncements I’ve seen and heard over Wilson’s outburst seem to center around the fact that Wilson showed a lack of respect for the Office of the President. So evidently Obama really has brought fundamental change in the short time he’s been President, because not too many people were very concerned about disrespect for the Office when Bush occupied it. How many times have we heard “Bush lied!” in the last few years? We’ve heard that expressed by Congressmen, by Senators, by ordinary Citizens, we’ve read it in the press and have even seen it on bumper stickers and t-shirts. Yet not many have spoken out over any “disrespect” or “bad manners” over it. I think the real outrage over this is not so much about “disrespect for the Office of the President.” It must be about something else.

I have to ask, at what point does it become wrong to point out the truth? Joe Wilson said “you lie” when he heard something that he knew was not true.

lie |lī|
an intentionally false statement
liar |ˈlīər|
a person who tells lies

When a person repeatedly makes statements which are obviously and intentionally false, at what point is it appropriate to refer to that person as “a liar?” And then at what point does it become appropriate to actually tell that person that he is “a liar?” Is it wrong to point out to a naked emperor that he’s wearing no clothes? It may not be “wise,” depending on the temperament of the emperor in question, but is it wrong? Speaking of temperament, it’s obvious in watching video of this episode that Obama’s first instinct was to engage.. to go after Wilson for his attack (the forefinger came up pointing at the target, the head cocked), but he backed down. We know that the man has a thin skin, and he certainly doesn’t like to be challenged… doesn’t tolerate criticism well, and you can see that in his immediate response.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man who certainly knew about being persecuted for his beliefs and actions, said “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Not to point out to a liar that he is a liar is to tacitly add your voice in support of his lies. And this is the reason I was glad to hear Joe Wilson say “you lie” to the President. For all his talk about how he wants to encourage bipartisan cooperation, this President doesn’t give his opposition much opportunity to confront him in private, so I don’t criticize for Wilson speaking the truth in one of the only forums available to him.

The whole argument for showing respect for someone.. anyone.. is that respect needs to be earned. To point out to a serial liar that he is a liar is not a show of disrespect, if it’s true. The Truth is often “inconvenient.” Just ask Al Gore if polar bears are natural swimmers…


Written by jb

September 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

2 Responses

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  1. I guess it was okay for Pelosi to call Bush and the CIA liars since she didn’t do it in the sacred chamber. And she wants to bring this man up on these charges?!

    Yet, I do think it was out of bounds to call the pres out at that time and use the moment to bring his name to the forefront. Whether Wilson could control himself or not. All these folks in Washington need to go and we need to start over with people who cannot and will not make a career in politics.

    I also have to admit…Wilson represented my thoughts and I would have probably done the same thing!


    September 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    • “All these folks in Washington need to go and we need to start over with people who cannot and will not make a career in politics.”

      I agree with you there. But good luck with that!


      September 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm

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