Late this afternoon the House of Representatives voted to reprimand Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina for his outburst calling President Obama a liar during the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress last week. The vote mostly followed along party lines, 240-179.
Seven Republicans voted for the resolution, 12 Democrats voted against it, and 5 members voted present. Democrats like Majority Whip Rep. Jim Cyburn (D-SC) argued that Wilson had not shown proper contrition to fellow House members by apologizing on the floor for his outburst. Clyburn argued that the House is supposed to demonstrate proper decorum and set an example. He said that silence is consent, and Democrats can’t stay silent after Wilson’s behavior.
Republican minority leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) said that Democrats should be talking about healthcare instead of Joe Wilson. Yesterday he said, “Rep. Wilson has apologized to the President, and the President accepted his apology. Last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi said that she believed it was time to move on and discuss health care. I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I plan to vote ‘no’ on this resolution. Instead of pursuing this type of petty partisanship, we should be working together to lower costs and expand access to affordable, high-quality health coverage on behalf of the American people.”
Rep. Wilson took to the House floor to say that there are more important things facing the nation. He said this action today will have done nothing for the tax payers to reign in the cost and size of the growing government. He claimed that the Democrats have muzzled Republican voices on healthcare, and tried to shift the focus off of his outburst.
The fact that a member of the House has never blurted out an insult to the president during a joint speech to Congress leads me to believe that Wilson should have been reprimanded. The sad thing is that this whole thing could have been avoided if Wilson would have apologized on the House floor to his colleagues. I think Wilson wants to play the martyr to the right. If he didn’t want to be martyr, he would have spent a minute and apologized to the House.