Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Care, Heckling, and the President's Lies

Hours after Congressman Joe Wilson heckled President Obama for 'lying' about aspects of the Dems health care proposal, the general reaction from the chattering class was one of universal condemnation.

According to the powers that be, the Congressman failed to show the President 'respect befitting the office,' and his comments were 'totally disrespectful.'

Granted, while the Congressman's remarks were out of taste, in many ways they were not beyond the pale. President's are routinely heckled, and when the such heckling comes from anyone other than a member of Congress, the press tends to give the hecklers a pass.

  • Note the absence of outrage when President George W. Bush was heckled by Australian Senators during a joint-session of the Australian legislature in 2003.
  • Note the absence of indignation when hecklers called President Bush a 'fascist' during an Independence Day ceremony in 2008.
  • Note the absence of derision when an Iraqi journalist threw his SHOES at President Bush during a press conference in December of last year.
Flash back to the present. Because this week's heckler was a Congressman, and because the President is a Democrat making a pitch on health care, the matter is one for utmost scorn.

I'm not writing in defense of Congressman Wilson. Heckling strikes me as shrill thing, and while I am many things, shrill is not among the adjectives I would ascribed to myself. Yet, there is something askance about the faux outrage that the Congressman's remarks have inspired- to say nothing of whether the Congressman was actually telling the truth.

So, what of this truth?

Well, the President by most accounts did not lie when he said that illegal aliens would not receive federal benefits under his 'proposal'. But the problem is that the President's proposal is not the bill being considered by either chamber of Congress.

According to the non-partisan, Congressional Research Service, it is at least possible that illegal immigrants could receive health care benefits under the Democrats plans to expand Medicaid. Perhaps the President did not lie on this point, but one could hardly fault a person for believing that he did. Let us simply conclude that the President certainly failed to tell the truth.

Yet, this was not the only misleading point about the President's speech. One more glaring example. The President surely mislead his audience by making the audacious claim that the bill would not add $1 to the federal deficit. This simply isn't true. Even the CBO admits that the current bill on the table would 'enhance' the Nation's deficit to the tune of $1 trillion. Is it then a 'lie' for the President to claim that the deficit would be unaffected by the Dems plan? Of course it is.

So, what then of the Congressman's claims? The simple conclusion of the matter is that the President, indeed, lied. Better still, since the Attorney General is so keen on torture investigations, it might be fairly said that President Obama 'tortured' the truth. Call it a rhetorical water boarding of our health care debate. This fact alone should be the source of our opprobrium, and indignation.

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