I had originally planned to compare Joe Wilson, the Republican representative from South Carolina who hollered "you lie!" at President Obama during his address on health care, to Kanye West.
In case you missed it, West is the rapper who disgraced himself during the MTV Video Music Awards by running on stage, taking the mike from award winner Taylor Swift and insisting that Beyonce should have won the award. Both have apologized: West to Swift, and Wilson to President Obama.
Wilson's apology, however, might have seemed a little more sincere had he not immediately started using his outburst as a fundraising tool. He began posting on his Web site that those nasty liberals were trying to "muzzle the American people who have been outspoken against their risky plan" and pleaded, "Will you please make a donation to help me fight back against these partisan attacks?"
I guess I missed the meeting where acting like trailer trash on the floor of the U.S. Congress was declared to be a conservative principle.
In contrast to Wilson, Kanye is apologizing every chance he gets, including a tearful scene on Jay Leno's new show when Leno asked Kanye what his mother might have said about his behavior. He's not using the fuss to tell people they should buy his records because he's being persecuted.
Good Lord. How low have you sunk when a world-class twit like Kanye West is showing more class than you?
The "partisan attacks" that Hollerin' Joe was whining about referred to a resolution introduced in the House for the lowest possible sanction for someone who committed a serious breach of decorum: a "resolution of disapproval."
The idea of even this mild a rebuke set off the usual fits of the vapors from the usual gang of right-wing pundits. Commentator Bill Kristol, for example, warned that if the Democratic leadership pursued a reprimand, they'd be "leading the party off the cliff."
Let me get this straight: The idiot who hollers out during a presidential address like a drunk redneck at a cockfight isn't "leading his party over a cliff," but the people pushing for the mildest reprimand of his boorish behavior are? But, hey, thanks for your concern, Bill. I'm sure you only have the best interest of the Democratic Party at heart.
I want to make one thing clear: I don't think it should be forbidden to call the president a liar. I did it myself during the Bush years, quite a bit, back when it was still considered the Worst Thing In The World. I just didn't do it on the floor of the House during a presidential address.
If a Democratic representative had yelled, "Bush lied, soldiers died!" during, say, the 2006 State of the Union address, the same people lining up behind Hollerin' Joe right now would be demanding he be impeached, at least those who weren't demanding he be sent to Guantanamo.
In any event, the resolution passed upon nearly a straight party vote, and I dearly hope that the tally serves as a wake-up call to the Democrats. Bipartisanship in the House is dead, Wilson's outburst was its obituary, and this vote buried it. President Obama is to be commended for trying to bring the Republicans into the tent, but the GOP has slapped away his hand every time it's been extended.
You want to look at the face of Republican "bipartisanship," look at the face of Joe Wilson captured at the moment when he's yelling at the president of the United States: red-faced, finger pointed in indignation, his pig-eyed, slack-jawed fury a chilling echo of those awful photographs from the early '60s of people shouting at civil rights protesters. Lucky thing Joe Wilson didn't have access to a police dog or a fire hose.
Fact is, when a Republican these days talks about bipartisanship, what he's really demanding is minority rule. He's demanding that his party still set the agenda and make policy for the nation after being soundly defeated in the last two elections.
Sorry, guys, it doesn't work that way. And it's time the Democrats started acting like it.