Joe Wilson the Thief

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar ambivalentmaybe says:

    I don’t think so. The attention to Rep. Wilson’s outburst puts the president and his plan in a better light by putting the emphasis on the irrational and rude nature of the plan’s opponents. That’s good for Obama and health care reform, even if it means less attention to specific policy proposals or passages in Obama’s speech itself.Report

  2. Avatar Trumwill says:

    I agree that it was not simply an outburst. But I think it was more miscalculation than calculation. It detracts from what Obama was saying the same way that Gore’s rolling eyes and sighs detracted from what Bush was saying during the first 2000 debate. It very much plays into the notion that Republicans are more interested in bickering and being negative than in anything getting done.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Trumwill says:

      Sure – but everyone already knows that / thinks that. So is it really a loss for Republicans? The point is that it distracts.Report

    • Avatar matoko_chan in reply to Trumwill says:

      Nah…a big part of it was real frustration.
      The reason O did healthcare reform first is to make sure the dust settled by 2010. Guess what is next? Immigration reform. The Teabagger Demographic has been schooled to believe that 99% of the healthcare crisis is from illegals using emergency rooms and social services…..not from the soulless rapacious insurance industries, lol. So convolving anti-illegal immigrant sentiment with healthcare is a win right now for the GOP with their base.
      However, healthcare will be just a sweet memory after xmas and the GOP will be attempting to woo the hispanic electorate while keeping their base from rage-logging at the first sign of GOP hispandering.
      Those guys are stupid, and they are all about tactics, but even the dumbest of them know the demographic timer is running out on the party of angry old white XY people.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I am trying to see Joe Wilson as someone who thinks 5 or 6 moves ahead.

    I am failing.Report

  4. Avatar ChrisWWW says:

    Funny thing is we never seem to have a serious national discussion after any of these speeches. The media thrives on trivialities and ginned up controversy. All Joe Wilson did was make the media’s job easier, but I promise you they would have found something silly to latch onto regardless.Report

  5. Avatar Royce says:

    You may be right but, if so, I think the execution was flawed. If he had yelled falsehood or something like that, it would have done more to create doubt. Instead, he chose a personal attack and I feel that it not only diminished him but may hurt the Republicans by linking them closer to the radical right. Even in the British House of Commons, calling the speaker a liar is forbidden as noted by Andrew Sullivan in a recent post. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/09/the-british-counterexample.htmlReport

  6. Avatar Steven Donegal says:

    Sure – but everyone already knows that / thinks that.

    This is where I think you”re wrong. People who really follow the debate know this. For the less engaged people out there, Wilson’s insult will have a large negative effect.Report

  7. Avatar EngineerScotty says:

    The media will always find something more interesting to discuss than policy; if it ain’t Joe the Congressman that it will be something else.
    That said, the speech appears to have accomplished–somewhat–several goals:
    * Give the politically disinterested but concerned about the results voters some reassurance that Grandma isn’t going to be seeing Dr. Kevorkian.
    * Assauge the progressive base, which was getting restless.
    * Provide cover for moderates and blue-dogs, who may well be sitting on the fence, to vote for a plan they might otherwise not be interested.
    * Continue to advance the narrative that the political right wing is a bunch of nincompoops. Joe’s outburst helped immensely.

    The thing to remember is–this isn’t a campaign speech per se–we the people will not be casting ballots on health care reform. Obama’s primary audience was there in the room with him.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I buy the conspire-to-get-attention theory. If someone came up with a frat-house-I-house-I-dare-you-to-dis-the-fake-POTUS -atmosphere-on-the-Republican-benches theory I’d probably buy that at ahigher price. But I don’t buy that this is a serious distraction. The actual issue is too important to people. On the other hand, it does make it all the more clear that there is no good faith on 95% of the Republican side right. But that was already clear, and they had already fully pplaced themselves to the periphery. This is an intra-Dem-plus-one-R game and has been for weeks. Last night just buries the GOP further in irrelevance. But it doesn’t make people care less or more about the plan.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      “Last night” there meaning the outburst. Overall I saw the speech as targeted more at Congress and less at the public, as much as these things are always so well stage-managed as theater. I think the outburst certainly will have a positive effect for Obama on Members, and to the extent the speech had much of an effect on public opinion of the plan at all, I think the outburst will slightly enhance that. The backlash in any case is now over.Report

  9. I frankly don’t understand this belief that Wilson’s outburst was anything more than what it was: an outburst. In my view it’s hard for me to peer into what was going on in this guy’s mind, so I tend to think there wasn’t any ulterior motive.

    Second, the problem here is not what Wilson said, as bad as it was: it is the fact that we are still talking about 24 hours later and trying to come up with some meaning about it. It should have been ignored, but we wanted to talk about something trivial and so we did.Report

  10. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Didn’t the Enlightened One refer to (certain) republicans as ‘liars?’ So Joe calls him a liar…whas da problem?
    Aren’t you libruls pissed about the Big O not getting us outta AF and Iraq? Whas up with dat?Report

    • Avatar PTirebiter in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

      No, he said the story was a lie being given credibility by some prominent politicians. The president made a statement of fact, Wilson shouted a cheap and unsupportable slur. But you know that, and all the other reasons your assertion of some equivalency is claptrap. And again no, we “libruls” are “pissed” about the clowns who needlessly took us into Iraq and then promptly screwed the pooch, wasting tens of thousands of lives and billions of borrowed dollars in the process. The reason we “libruls” are extremely concerned about Afghanistan is because team teabag managed to screw the pooch there as well. Incompetence and moral bankrupty seems to be your default setting.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to PTirebiter says:

        PT, dude, I do agree with your assessment of Iraq/Af, so why you boys still there? Are you engaging in pooch coitus?
        Ya can’t leave a war for Democrats, they do wars really well!
        And, they do large, unseemly gummint really well too, so that’s why you really don’t want to elect them!
        Join the resistance, PT, join us at the barricades, dude!Report

  11. Avatar Bruce Smith says:

    The whole point in the British Parliament of shouting and pointing out inconsistencies and inadequacies at the Prime-Minister and their Ministers is to get them flustered and feeble in response which makes them look incompetent. Usually the best approach is to use memorable humor. One MP, Dennis Healey, once famously accused a Tory (Geoffrey Howe) Minister’s attack on him as “like being savaged by a dead sheep.” This was spot on considering Geoffrey Howe always spoke with a quiet and monotone voice that was incredibly boring. I’m sure that Obama was quite up to delivering an equally withering comment to Joe Wilson should he have considered the occasion justified it. The point was it didn’t because the convention was to listen and maybe applaud but not boo the President’s speech just like the Brit MP’s undemonstratively listen politely to the Queen’s speech at the start of a Parliamentary Session. Of course, should the Republicans continue to think that shouting out “Liar” at every opportunity in President’s speeches to the House like mooning monkeys constitutes effective opposition Obama can simply just address a televised meeting of only Democratic representatives, or purely use televised speeches from the White House. The Republicans need to learn to take it on such Presidential speech occasions as do the Democrats when out of power. However, in partial defense of Joe Wilson, it would suggest a problem of a lack of appropriate serious channels to debate the issues amongst politicians and the public and here for one suggestion the main stream TV stations with Internet links need to be diverted in part from endless dumbed-down money making, or the Brit licensed BBC TV approach adopted which results in some effort to present the issues in a factually based manner. America’s perennial problem with Federal and State level issues does seem to be too many opinions being exchanged and not enough facts. If, however, naked power on behalf of a minority is really the name of the shouting game, the Republicans for the rich, for example, then the American people will eventually wake up and vote accordingly to disenfranchise Republican politicians for possibly a very long time.Report

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