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Rep. Joe Wilson: Heckling Obama
What a South Carolina congressman accomplished by shouting “You lie!” to the president
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hen Rep. Joe Wilson (R, S.C.) yelled “You lie!” at President Obama during his health-care speech, said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post, “the nation’s rapidly deteriorating discourse hit yet another low.” But Wilson’s outburst, in response to Obama’s assertion that his plan would not cover illegal immigrants, was “only the most flagrant” of the House Republicans’ “appalling” antics—boos, hisses, and less-show-stealing outbursts such as “Shame!” (watch Wilson heckle Obama)

Wilson “deserves censure” for his conduct, said John Podheretz in Commentary. There’s “no excuse” for interrupting the president while he’s speaking to a joint session of Congress. That said, Wilson “is about to become a folk hero.”

To whom? Democrats? said Alex Koppelman in Salon. Wilson’s “disrespectful” outburst “is a gift to the White House.” He quickly apologized to Obama, but “the damage has already been done.” One of Obama's points was that some GOP critics are more interested in attacking him than in fixing health care—maybe responding like a rowdy “bunch of town hall protesters” wasn’t the Republicans’ best response.

Since Obama wasn’t addressing the outburst-friendly British Parliament, that’s probably true, said William Jacobson in Legal Insurrection. But it’s also not clear that Wilson was wrong. Since Obama hasn’t yet released a plan, he’s “technically correct” that his plan doesn’t cover illegal immigrants. But the House version of health-care reform, with some exceptions, doesn’t explicitly exclude illegal aliens from all coverage.

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