By Robert Wallace
You have probably heard in the news or maybe even seen the clip of Rep. Wilson (R-SC) shouting out “You lie!” during Obama’s address to the House. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:
It was a breach of our traditions, and so Wilson should have apologized. And apologize he did. Wilson apologized in a public statement and then he called the White House to apologize in person. According to Wilson’s statements on Fox News, the White House accepted his apology.
As far as all matters of ethics, tradition, and so forth go, this matter is closed.
But there’s also a political aspect to the question because this is Washington, D.C. and there’s a political aspect to every question. The Democrats are calling for yet another apology–this one on the floor of the House–solely because they think it will help them to regain some forward momentum. Apologizing is, by definition, defensive. If Wilson represents the anger of the American people, then the Democrats want him on the defensive as long as possible.
Frankly, is a pretty sad little attempt from the Democrats to get back on offense, and it could backfire on them. Wilson should try a little political zen judo and turn his opponents attack against them. They’re lunging forward and they expect him to stand and fight. Instead, he should go along with it and in the process take them completely off balance.
The key to remember is that a public apology on the floor of the House is a gift-wrapped passport to the media spotlight. Wilson was wrong to yell “You lie!” in the middle of the President’s speech, but he was also telling the truth. So why not take the opportunity the Democrats have so foolishly handed him and do it again: tell the truth even louder than before.
This is what Wilson should say:
It was wrong of me to interrupt the president’s speech. That is why I apologized publicly and called the White House to apologize in person. The White House accepted my apology, but my Democratic colleagues would like to hear it one more time. That’s fine with me. When I’m wrong I will admit that I am wrong: once, twice, or a hundred times if necessary.
I am concerned that my message doesn’t seem to be getting through, however, and so I want to be very clear and specific in this apology. I ask only from those who claim to hold respectful dialogue in such high regard their patient respect while I explain very briefly what it is that I am apologizing for.
The President, in his remarks right here less than a week ago, knowingly made statements that were false. First and foremost among these is the claim that insuring an additional 30 million Americans can be accomplished without adding a single penny to the deficit and without rationing of any kind. This is absurd. You know it is absurd, and I know it is absurd. Everyone in this room from the Speaker of the House to the newest congressional aide knows that it is absurd. The Congressional Budget Office knows that it is absurd. The American people know that it is absurd. No one believes that this is possible because it is not possible. Even if you could save billions of dollars without cutting any benefits whatsoever (and you can’t), where are you going to find the additional hospitals, nurses, and doctors to provide medical services for 30 million Americans who don’t receive them? Health care services are not loaves and fishes, and President Obama is not Jesus, and so there will be no health care miracle.
Several of the President’s additional claims were false, including the one that prompted my outburst. Since the speech, the White House has asked for additional measures in the bill that would prevent government-subsidized health care from being available to illegal aliens, but at the time that he made his remarks no such change had been called for and so what he said was not true.
So don’t ask me to apologize for the content of my outburst. I can not and I will not apologize for speaking the truth.
On the other hand, the timing of my comment was inappropriate. As every parent has had to explain to their children, just because something is true doesn’t mean that it needs to be said right then and there. I genuinely and sincerely regret allowing my passion for truth to override my dedication to the traditions of this House, and I regret interrupting the president’s speech.
The fact is that a lot of Americans know that Wilson speaks for them. Just watch this video (the Wilson bit comes near the very end):
Wilson doesn’t owe anyone another apology. He has refused to issue a third one, and I respect that. But now he’s playing defense, and he’s probably going to end up getting censured anyway. Why not take the Democrats up on their arrogant demand, and use it as an opportunity to restate the case that Obama is lying? It would be honest, it would be honorable, and it would be bad-ass.
Hey — if you’re going to get censured by a bunch of corrupt, arrogant, dishonest geezers, you should at least give them something to really choke on, right? The Democrats are offering this one up on a silver platter. I say take it.
Robert Wallace is classical liberal studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a socialist bastion of a college town. He has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.