Rebuking Joe Wilson: Stupid Move or a Save for Civilization?

Op-eds cross party lines in a storm of strong reactions to the continued "You lie!" debate

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Pundits are divided on the merit of rebuking Joe Wilson. After numerous condemnations and Wilson's own apologies, the House voted on Tuesday evening to reprimand the congressman for his outburst during President Obama's address last week. Unsurprisingly, the voting largely followed party lines, according to The New York Times. The opinion world reaction, however, has not. Here are some of the most interesting takes on the continued Joe Wilson debate, from partisan to maverick.

  • Truly Stupid  Michael Kinsley unleashed a flood of clear-headed criticism in the Dallas Morning News on Monday. "It seems," he observed, "that about three-quarters of American politics can now be distilled down to 'How dare you say that!'" Why demand Wilson apologize in the House?
Is it the suspicion that [his] apologies so far have not been sincere? Of course they're not sincere. Nor would be any future apologies he may issue, in any posture or location. After years of obscurity, this man is having the time of his life, relishing his newfound celebrity and raking in the campaign contributions, too.

The more times he is required to write "I will not call the President a liar" on a special blackboard set up in the well of the House, the bigger hero he will become to a large chunk of the population.
  • 'A Rare Triumph for Civility,' Maureen Dowd dubbed the rebuke, disagreeing with Kinsley. The rebuke was a "ratification of an institution that has relied on strict codes of conduct for two centuries to prevent a breakdown of order," she added, calling Joe Wilson a "chucklehead."
  • A Crucial Triumph for Civilization and the North  In a puzzling and provocative moment of eccentricity Wednesday morning, the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker responded to the incident by quoting an 1882 New York Times article. The piece exalted the stereotypically "lily-livered and pusillanamous [Northern] race" for its intolerance of the word "liar," while questioning the societal value of the supposedly honorable South, which allowed "such epithets." Her mission to revive Mason-Dixon Line tension presumably accomplished, Parker concluded by saying that Wilson's outburst "can't be justified ... because civilization is a fragile and delicate idea."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.