Was Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) correct to call President Obama a liar?
No matter what your political views, there are certain things that civilized peoples know not to do when in the presence of an elected official or dignitary. Hating the war in Iraq would not be justification for spitting on your palm before shaking hands with Dick Cheney. Your belief that the British monarchy is a dinosaur wouldn't excuse throwing a pie in the face of Prince Charles. And NRA-hater though you might be, entrapping a senile Charlton Heston into an interview on false pretenses (as Michael Moore did in Bowling for Columbine) are all nothing short of reprehensible.
Which is why the Iraqi shoe-thrower deserved his punishment after he removed and lobbed his footwear at President George Bush last year. And yet that was the action of a lone Iraqi with no constituency. Surely we can expect more from an elected American official, an individual who is governed by the House Code of Ethics, which stipulates:
A Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.
So does yelling out "You lie!" in the midst of President Obama's healthcare address reflect creditably on the House of Representatives? (Hint: This is a rhetorical question.) One is led to ponder whether South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson had the same reaction upon learning of his own governor's later-disproven alibi for disappearing (forevermore known as the Appalachian Trail Defense).
Representative Wilson would certainly have been well within his rights to approach the President after his address to discuss his concerns. In fact, if he felt that voters back home shared his beliefs, he would have been obligated to express those views to the President. But for him to do so in a public forum—and during a live television broadcast, no less—was inexcusable. It reeks of disrespect of the highest order....and as a childish cry for attention. Attempts that Wilson has made in the time since to explain his actions away as an uncontrollable urge simply do not cut it. His conduct has brought shame on his state, on his party and on the House as a whole. And for that, he deserves censure.
Bottom line? It's been a sad year for manners from the great (and otherwise decorous) state of South Carolina.