by Jerry Bowles on 09/10/2009
If there was any doubt about who is the party of angry white people, it was dispelled last night by the incredible display of boorishness by GOP lawmakers, capped by an infantile outburst by South Carolina backbencher Joe Wilson who screamed "You lie" at the President when he said, correctly, that the healthcare proposal being considered does not provide care for illegal immigrants. In fact, it explicitly bars it but facts don't seem to count for much with Republicans these days as they seem to have decided to see how unattractive they can make themselves.
Thanks to Dana Milbank's report in today's Washington Post, we now know that Wilson was merely the loudest and most obnoxious of the miscreants. With all the deference a room of sixth graders gives a substitute teacher, they murmured, hissed, booed, made disparaging comments, and twittled with their Blackberrys throughout the address Milbank writes:
But while the majority of both parties' lawmakers behaved as adults, the insolence by House Republicans stole the show. There was derisive laughter on that side of the chamber when Obama noted that "there remain some significant details to be ironed out." They applauded as he spoke of "all the misinformation that's been spread over the past few months." They laughed again when he said that "many Americans have grown nervous about reform."
When Obama addressed the charge that he plans "panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens," someone on the GOP side shouted out "shame!" The president went on: "Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical." "Read the bill!" someone shouted back. Obama mentioned those who accuse him of a government takeover of health care. "It's true," someone shouted back.
Over the past few months, we have seen American political discourse coarsen into pure unadulterated hatred and watched helplessly as one of the most hallowed chambers of our government took on the ambiance of a "whites-only" South Carolina beer joint. The Republicans have played their hand and it is all Jokers.
Obama was right; this is a test of our character, but not just about healthcare. The world is changing but a significant number of Americans are not prepared to change with it. All of this open contempt and public disrespect is not about policy differences; it's about the fact that Barack Obama is a black man and it raises serious questions about whether we are mature enough as a people to survive in a world in which white people will no longer hold a monopoly on power.