You have to hand it to the Republicans, they know how to play the press and work the rubes.
Obama gives a major speech to Congress in which he lays out what he want to see in a health care bill and how important it is that U.S. fix its health care system right now - important stuff, no doubt about it, and it was a stirring speech full of appeals to America's lofty ideals and all that kind of inspirational speechifying for which Obama is rightfully known. But what are the press, and therefore the rest of us, going to be talking about for the next week or two?
It won't be health care.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted out "You lie" when Obama said that the new health care program wouldn't cover illegal aliens, so for the next two weeks all the talk on cable news and Sunday political chat shows will be about the "incivility" of politics and how both sides are rude, crude and obnoxious, how it is unheard of for congressmen to heckle the president when he is making a speech, how this shows that Obama doesn't rattle in the face of hecklers, how this shows the Republicans are losing their cool, how it shows that Obama doesn't command the respect that he should as president, how angry the right is, how angry Americans are about illegal aliens, how much influence Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh have, whether this shows that Obama will win on health care, whether it shows that the Republicans will win on health care -- in other words, the mainstream public discourse will be about everything but healthcare.
Just like the public discourse for the last two months has been about the angry shouting crazy people showing up to the town hall meetings with guns and pictures of Obama as Hitler. Did we spend the summer talking about health care? No, not really, most of the coverage of the issue was about how terrible it was to call Obama a Nazi and what is socialism really? And who are these angry shouting people who say crazy shit like "keep the government away from my medicare" --- simply put, the angry, shouting, crazy gun-wavers suck up all the attention and the actual issues go unexamined.
Yes, intelligent and thoughtful people see through this misdirection and look at the issue of health care reform, but as history shows, the electorate is not entirely made up of intelligent and thoughtful people. A large proportion of the electorate are ignorant rubes who will now be saying to themselves "gee, maybe Obama is a liar" or "Wow, Joe Wilson's a douchebag for heckling the president, but its just because so many people are angry about all the free stuff we give to illegal immigrants."
Yes, people will be calling Joe Wilson a douche bag for a few days and his name will now be followed with the phrase "that guy who heckled Obama" for the rest of his political career. So what? He's a Republican congressman from South Carolina -- did anyone think he wasn't a douchebag before he opened his mouth? He heckled Obama -- that will definitely hurt his chances of getting elected in the northeast and California, but in South Carolina,where the people who are going to vote for a white Republican douche bag already think that Obama is a Kenyan Islamofascist hippie communist blackamoor who wants to ban NASCAR and the Bible and take away everybody's guns, it's pure gold.
Well played Republicans, well played Joe Wilson. But you're still a bunch of douche bags
updatery: Wilson's various websites are still down, I suspect from before the speech even started, in anticipation of the backlash.
Meanwhile, the good folk at Whisky Fire are entirely correct when they say of Joe Wilson: I Think You're an Asshole, And I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Act Like an Asshole, But You're Still an Asshole, Asshole
crossposted from the Woodshed