Like a lot of Americans, I watched the President’s “I am going to get tough with Republicans” speech in front of Congress last night. I wanted to write about the speech but it seems that very few people seem to care much about what he actually said, even though there were some important things said in that speech. So I will take a moment and address the President’s speech and what I thought of it. But the topic that seems to have everyone in the media’s attention today is the moment where the President was speaking about coverage for Illegal Immigrants, denouncing the wicked untruths that have been spread about it, and he was the victim of a verbal assault. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, spoke a little louder than he intended and was caught in front of the national audience saying that the President was lying to the American people. Right or wrong, that stole the show….
So first my take on the speech. Let me say that I was not nearly as impressed as the liberal media was. Within two hours of the speech, it seemed that every single liberal writer over at the Huffington Post had written an article praising the President’s speech. Some were even calling it the best speech he has ever given. I will whole-heartedly denounce that as false. I thought his acceptance speech on November 4th was better. And I thought the speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention 5 years ago was even better than that one. That 2004 DNC speech would have to be the best, in my humble opinion.
He started by taking credit for saving America from, in his words, “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression”. One, I am not sure it was the worst potential crisis for Americans. I think it had the potential to be the worst financial crisis in history for the people in power in the federal government. I think it would have crushed the power in Washington. But the American people would have weathered it, rebounded, and carried on. We are a resourceful group. Some aren’t, but then again that is where social darwinism will take over and do the job that I have always embraced it doing. Second, I don’t think that the Obama administration can take credit for fixing anything. First, the financial sector was the one with the most potential for disaster, and that was done with TARP, under Bush’s watch. Second, as much as I know that the Democrats would like you all to believe that the Economic Spendulus Bill was a good thing and that it worked, that is a bunch of bulldookey. Regardless, our arrogant leader claimed, “But thanks to the bold and decisive action we’ve taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.”
Then he made a statement that actually scared me rather than reassured me. He said, “But we did not come here just to clean up crises. We came here to build a future.” Yes, I know, paranoid folks on the right. But you know what, given the massive and seeping changes we have seen thus far, does anyone really doubt that he is looking to fundamentally change the United States of America. Regardless of whether you think what he is doing is one of the ism’s, there is little doubt that he will leave the country far different than he took it as President. And I don’t think in a good way.
Then he went about building the case for health care reform. Despite the fact that I debunked many of those numbers, he still repeated them: “There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two-year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage.” Well, NO, there are not 30 Million Americans who cannot. As pointed out 10 Million of them choose not to. The second fact about every two years is irrelevant with data to back it up. My guess is that a vast majority of those he is talking about are between jobs, or waiting the period before coverage kicks in. As for the third, convenient that you bring up 14k a day. How many each day regain coverage?
He added the unframed and false claim, “We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it.” We do spend that much, and we aren’t healthier. But we aren’t healthier in spite of that number for a plethora of reasons that I already discussed in Part 1. Our lifestyles are what produce the statistics that are used as a weapon in this argument. I have discussed it, wrote about it, and claim it as fact. He finished this section with the statement, “Now, these are the facts. Nobody disputes them.” Au contraire Mr. President, in fact there are a vast amount of people who dispute them.
- If you have insurance, you will not be required to change it.
- If you don’t have insurance, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in the “exchange”
- If you are one of those risky folks choosing not to have coverage, you will be required to get basic health insurance.
One, I don’t have a problem with. Two, I have an open mind and I am willing to see where this exchange thing goes, but it better be written well if my support is solicited. As for part three, I don’t know that I agree with this. We are a free nation and I should be allowed to choose not to have coverage it I want. Now if you want to change the laws so that the risk versus reward ratio is even less in my favor, I can agree with that. But forcing someone to get insurance when they don’t want it is no better an idea now that it was when they did it with car insurance.
He then discussed the two differing sides on the issue, and noted that the two sides he discussed are both to radical in terms of the disruptive power in the economy and the health care industry. So he said, “Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch.” And that is something that I can agree with. The stuff that I have read coming from Congress in the form of HR3200 and the other bills showing up, constitute a major upheaval in the marketplace. He then proceeded to characterize Republicans as bad for opposing the plan. He didn’t come right out and say it was Republicans at this point, but it was clear that was what he was talking about. The only honest part of this entire part of the speech was when he said, “But what we’ve also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government.” You got that right, Messiah, Americans have a disdain for government, and that includes you and your party, not just the other side.
He outlined his plan, which I am not going to cover here as that deserves a post all its own. And he moved into the section of the speech where he attempted to dispute the claims being made by conservatives. First he dealt with the “Death Panels” stuff, and called it “cynical and irresponsible.” I was OK with his words here although he was clearly being argumentative towards Republicans at this point. He then uttered the phrase that was apparently too much for Joe Wilson. He said, “There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” And the President was right here, but there are some loopholes that need to be closed. In response to this statement from the President, there was some clear grumblings in the crowd, followed by a clear “You Lie” yelled by Wilson.
I will stop my coverage of the speech right here. I will be addressing the speech more in subsequent parts of this series. He talked for another 40 minutes after this. But the tone from Republicans was set by this point. The look from Nancy Pelosi was priceless. She shot a look that could have reduced a man to ashes. The last time I saw a look like that was from a Sister in a Catholic school. She was MAD. The look from the President was not much better, but he carried on.
It turns out that Joe Wilson was the culprit. He faces a lot of opposition after that outburst. Wilson called the White House immediately to offer an apology. It was accepted. Democratic leadership is requesting that he go a step further and apologize in the chamber during sessions. They said failing to do so would result in censure. He declined and took his chances. I am with Wilson on that aspect of things. He apologized to the President. He doesn’t need to do it in session at the House. He owed Obama an apology. He gave it. He owes Steney Hoyer and his cronies nothing. He gave that too.
But the question of the day seems to be how far out of line this was. It was certainly a breach of the decorum of the Congress. In that way he “stepped out of line” quite a bit. But I have to go on record here. I think what he said was stupid. I think it was wrong, in terms of the facts he was disputing. But I don’t have a problem with the fact that he yelled out what he thought. I know some of you are already cringing or licking your chops. But hear me out here.
First and foremost, this was yelled by a Congressman. The last time I checked, the President is one of three branches of government, according to the Constitution, that are each equal in power. The President is the President. He garners respect for the role, but he is not a King. He is not the all knowing or the Dali Lahma. The Congress is equal to the President. Therefore they have the right, especially when he comes into their chamber, to treat him the way they see fit. And if that means they yell out, so be it. I think that the Conservatives in Congress have every right to be disgusted with the President. They had to deal with him coming into their house and lying outright to them (on many things, not necessarily on this particular issue of immigrant coverage). So when he said something they thought was a lie, someone yelled out. Congress is the President’s EQUAL, not his employee. And I think that this is a fact that many people tend to lose sight of. They elect a King and get upset when he is challenged.
Second, I think that we can all agree that politicians giving speeches are, at best “disingenuous”, and at worst, outright liars. Should the President get more leeway to state things as though they are fact when they are not? For the most part, we have allowed Presidents to get up there and throw around the biggest lies and the biggest spins of any politicians. And by NOT calling them out for it, we have in some ways sanctioned this dishonest pattern. We have come to expect politicians to lie to us. And in the name of “respect” we have remained silent and let them tell their lie with a smile on their face. When faced with a phenomenal public speaker who has the ability to pull the wool over many, many people’s eyes, Joe Wilson decided he was going to call him out on it. Tactful? No. Out of Line? Maybe. Within his rights? Absolutely.
We can all pretend to sit here saying Joe Wilson is bad for what he did. And it did take things to the next level. But this really isn’t a matter of Congressional members “disrespecting” the President. They have been doing that for decades. I have watched every state of the union address for 20 years. The opposition members routinely refuse to applause things that do not go with their party line. It is one of the most childish displays that I get to see. For the record, I would like to see all reaction from Congress go away. The standing ovations and cheers are just as annoying to me.
Finally, let’s be honest with each other here. We have all, at one time or another, watched a President speak on TV and yelled what we disagreed with at the TV. We have constantly opined over the fact that no one is asking these Washington idiots the tough questions or the fact that no one seems to outwardly challenge them on their ideals. Now someone has, and we are supposed to be angry about it? Well, I am not.
I think it is about time that someone stood up and let a speaker know that you are opposed or don’t believe in what he or she is stating. It was a dumb move on Wilson’s part. But I do applaud his testicular fortitude. He saw the President again going left unchallenged on a matter that is critical to the political landscape. And he had heard enough of the rhetoric and the falsehoods. So he called out the President. I didn’t like it, but I applaud it none-the-less.