Thursday, September 10, 2009

comments from the peanut gallery...

This started as a facebook status update and is morphing into a blog post. I try to keep my facebook postings as non-controversial as possible, in an attempt to avoid potentially offending people. You know, like people I built toothpick bridges with in elementary school, or randomly met at Jewish pub crawls. You don't always get into deep ideological discussions in situations like those, so I like to keep my FB postings pretty light and easygoing--YKWIM?

This blog on the other hand, has always been intended as a place for me to say what I want, when I want--so let's get to it, shall we?

Last night, President Obama gave a speech before both houses of Congress about health care reform. During the speech, one of the people in the audience yelled out, "You lie!" as the President was making a point. Today, that outburst is being framed by the mainstream media as a sign of how contentious the health care debate has gotten; evidence of the deep political divisions that exist between the parties. I see this as a sign of something very different, and it bothers me that I'm not hearing my interpretation of the events expressed/discussed more.

I think everyone agrees that what Rep. Joe Wilson (a 62-year-old white male, born and raised in South Carolina,) said to President Obama ( a 48-year-old black male (allegedly) born in Hawaii,) was inappropriate. Disrespectful? Fewer people would agree with this, but props to John McCain for characterizing Wilson's behavior as such.

What we don't agree on, is what compelled Wilson to say such a thing. What made him think it would be okay to say, "You lie!" on live television, in front of a global audience, at a work function, to the President of the United States of America. Now, Obama is not Wilson's boss, but one of them has a plane and the nuclear codes. The other has to eat in a cafeteria.

Now, Wilson characterized the incident as a "spontaneous" event where his emotions got the best of him. If it was so spontaneous, why do we hear someone (who sounds to me a lot like Joe Wilson,) yell something else out, a few seconds before the soundbite that has become so popular? Listen below at the 1:18 mark

Also, why is it that in the 43 presidents that we've had previously, no one has ever felt compelled to yell statements that question the integrity of the Commander in Chief in the past? The Civil War, The Great Depression, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky, Iraq--all these extremely controversial events in our history, and none of the thousands upon thousands of congresspersons has ever yelled, "Go suck an egg, Hoover!" or "We're bout to impeach your ass, Clinton!" So peculiar...

And finally, what was the statement in that got Mr. Wilson so riled up--so out of control that he's just gotta start yelling? Oh that's right, brown people without work papers getting free health care.

"Killing grandma, I'll let you say that's not true Obama, but free care for illegals? That is where I've got to draw the line." If you're wondering why he calls them "illegals" instead of illegal immigrants: Representative Wilson is a very busy man, he can't be bothered with the extra energy it takes to add a noun to his not-even-a-word adjective. And don't even bother telling him about the term "undocumented workers,"--that would imply that they work and pay taxes.

So, my husband says that sometimes when I make my blog posts, I beat around the bush and avoid saying what I mean. I think this is true at times, because I am trying to stimulate thought and discussion amongst my readers. This is not one of those times.

Joe Wilson said what he said to the person he said it to, because he is pissed off that a black man is president. He can't believe that some black guy is trying to tell him what to do. He has never really had to treat a black man with respect at any point in his life before--why should he start now? Sure he's in the hallowed halls of Congress--but somebody has got to put this uppity negro in his place!

Strong words? Yes.
Am I in Joe Wilson's head? No.
Do you agree with my analysis? Probably not.
Do I care? Can't say that I do.

Damn...that felt good.


  1. Wow, great and so well put. Thank you. I was thinking about what was going on with that guy all day. I'm glad to hear you say all that. And for the reconrd, I agree.

  2. Crap, my last post had a typo in it. I just saw that as I was pushing "post". Sorry about that.

  3. I do agree. 62-year-old white man from South Carolina is enough evidence for me.

    Unrelated, but I thought you'd enjoy this:

    Last week, we were in Montana on our way to Yellowstone. My husband stopped by his company's Montana office to do a couple hours of work.

    While he worked, various employees chatted me up. Several had moved to Montana from Los Angeles. All of these transplants sang the praises of Montana -- fresh air, no traffic, friendly people.

    I smiled and nodded as best as I could.

    But really what I wanted to say is "Montana's only great because you're white."

  4. First, so glad to see a new post.
    Second, I thought at first Joe Wilson had guts.
    Then, MY HUSBAND, (skinny white guy) pointed out your same point and he is so angry.
    I honestly have to say, I never even thought about race. So, is that good on my part that I don't feel that He should have any less respect? He IS our president. But should I feel like I should walk on egg shells because he is black and I don't want to be labeled racish. I'm gonna continue to feel what I feel. And am happy that someone had to point out race to me. I think it means I am doing something right. Unfortunately it means I can't point out when someone is doing something wrong.

  5. Anonymous6:30 AM

    If you listen carefully, he said "You lie!" at the 1:18 point, then a few seconds later he repeated it a little louder. It was the second time (the one he said was spontaneous) that got the attention. I think he meant to say it loud the first time and, fearing that he had not been heard, he said it a little louder the second time.

    Hmmm...seems like forethought to me.

    I also agree that he felt like he was mad as hell and just couldn't take it anymore that a black man is our president. Your observation that the disrespectful comment could not be contained any longer when he mentioned illegal immigrants was spot on, IMHO. After all, he grew up in an era where blacks were at the bottom of the barrel, and now he has to sit in a room where this very powerful black man is spouting off stuff he must listen to...and respect?! Too much to ask.

  6. Anonymous8:31 AM

    Anon I would add to your comments that by giving all those illegal brown people health care perhaps the whites will lose even more of their high ranking status in society. And I am lily white.

  7. j. galt5:16 PM

    There is a whole lot of lies and misinformation goung on right now. I have to give it to the congressman he has balls. I think that a great deal can be gained from this incedent. Where is the long birth form Mr.President. College records, what are you hiding? The court case in California is moving ahead with discovery. Release the documents , be transparent, live up to your pledges. Show some honor stop hiding who you are. This hiding of the documents only adds fuel to the fire. The American people have had enough of the BS. This in not a republican or democratic issue, it is a constitutional issue. I beleive that is the core of this administrations credability. so long as there are questions of who this president is and what the documents say, I belive there will be more to come unfortunatly. The congressman showed poor taste, and judgment, at least he was not driving off a bridge and left a body behind, or a member of the klan, I wonder what senator Byrd would have to say about the congressman, would he agree with your arguement that this is because he is black. I look deeper than skin color. What does this president stand for and who is he? I would like to know.

  8. Anonymous7:23 PM

    I find it highly amusing that the last commenter, who is obviously a Republican, is the only one who skirts around the issue and tries to change the subject to the already tired and ridiculous idea that the President is not American. Is that all you people can really come up with? We just might have a couple of other issues in our country that might be a little more important. Oh, also as a side note, why do so many Republicans have such horrendous spelling and grammar mistakes?

  9. j. galt8:08 PM

    A reference was made to his alleged citizenship in an earlier paragraph. Not a distraction, not changing the issue. What does being a Republican have to do with it? I was just asking questions. If my son wanted to play little league football, he would have to provide a birth certificate, yet to run the free world one does not have to. Yes there are many problems in this world caused by both parties, Both have blood on their hands, last time I was bleeding it was red. We all bleed red, No one party has a monopoly on justice and equality. Both parties have a geat deal to work on. We all are striving for justice and equality. I believe that is the question we will be asking and have been asking since humans have been on this planet. Sorry about my spelling and grammer this website server has a tendency to log out when I am typing and I find it very aggrivating to have to start all over and do spell check. I will do my best to be more aware of how it is presented. thank you your feed back. Open dialogue is always welcome, the truth is the road to justice no matter where it leads.

  10. Anonymous8:55 PM

    I will respectfully disagree with you, of course knowing it's impossible to know what his real motivation was.

    I blame it all on the level of political vitriol we've reached. I think Republicans increasingly hate Democrats and their "plans to ruin the country", and this is leading to these types of outbursts. I'm sorry, but I don't see any evidence that he shouted "You Lie!" because Obama is black. I attribute the same factors to the embarrassing outburts about Obama addressing the school children. I am ashamed to be a registered Republican these days.

    Shockingly inappropriate? Yes. Highly unprofessional? Disrespectful? Yes. I think that's enough without making this a race issue. Assuming someone is racist because he is a 62 year old white man from SC doesn't seem to match your usual logic.


  11. j galt10:54 PM

    I find it highly amusing that the last commenter, who is obviously a Republican, is the only one who skirts around the issue and tries to change the subject to the already tired and ridiculous idea that the President is not American. Is that all you people can really come up with? We just might have a couple of other issues in our country that might be a little more important. Oh, also as a side note, why do so many Republicans have such horrendous spelling and grammar mistakes?

    Here is a game to play:
    “Thoughts about race and Inequality in America”
    Take the word Republican out of the paragraph and insert.
    You can go on and on with this. I hope you are getting my point.
    How can we have a dialogue about race and equality when we are so easy to label so quickly to judge. Where is the civility, candor and goodwill in our discussions? These things are so easily lost in the search for the answers and truth. If we are not seeking the truth, then what are we here for?

  12. Great post.

    That whole conservative group is just insane. They are completely narcissistic and entitled. It makes me sick to see them disrespect the president and the office of the presidency that way. I think the SOB should be fined for misconduct or put on behavioral probation or something. If those things even exist... If you can't have ethics, manners or common courtesy then there should at least be rules of conduct! There must be rules governing these forums, there must. Even the children in my son's PREschool don't behave that way.

    I am just so disgusted with all of their fear and ignorance, greed and dogmatism. They twist reality to fit their own agendas and live in some sort of bubble where Jesus would approve of all their mean, hateful, selfishness. This behavior is a form of insanity. It's delusional, narcissistic and borderline sociopathic.

    Now the right wing talk show hosts are scaring old people and the ignorant by telling them that Obama is going to take all their precious guns away and put all of the "conservative dissidents" into concentration camps.. It's so amazingly absurd and embarrassing, all of it. Just shameful.

    Thanks for the outlet~

  13. Anonymous10:24 PM

    Thanks for writing about this. I've been inflamed about the (not really) covert racism underlying political discussions since even before healthcare reform came up. I agree with you - I wonder if someone's emotions would "get the best of them" if they were listening to a speech by Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush...somehow, I doubt it. Kudos to Carter for saying what he said today. And the use of the word "illegals" is just infuriating, as is the term "illegal aliens." This presidency has sparked more long conversations about isms between my boyfriend and I than I ever imagined. (So has the oppression and demonization of Muslims around the world, for that matter). While I'm not happy about the blatant racism occurring in our country, I'm grateful that, at least in my house, the anger has sparked some serious thinking about this country and our own responsibilities here.

    Good post.