Tonight may have been South Carolina's "finest" political hour since Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential bid in 1948 -- if not Rep. Preston Brooks' 1856 game of whack-a-mole in the U.S. Senate chamber . . . using the head of Sen. Charles Sumner, R-Mass., as the "mole."
During President Obama's speech on health-care reform before a joint session of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Seditionland, provided one of South Carolina's top political moments -- but not the top political moment -- since the state came up short on slavery and segregation during past periods of American ferment. Tonight's bid for glory fell just short, mainly due to Wilson's lacking a heavy, gold-headed cane . . . and that he was too far away from Obama to throw a shoe at him.
STILL, according to this story on MSNBC, the congressman gave it the ol' college try. Think Ole Miss, 1962:
Without naming Bush, Obama blamed his administration for bequeathing him “a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House ... because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for — from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy.”OBVIOUSLY, they do things differently in South Carolina, and Wilson forgot that Americans don't do "Question Time" like they do in Britain. Just like our national legislators don't duke it out on the floor like they do in Taiwan and South Korea.
“I will not make that same mistake with health care,” he said.
The remarks contributed to a sense of palpable tension in the room. When Obama promised that his plan would not cover illegal immigrants, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouted “You lie!” — the most obvious of several instances when the president was greeted with audible disagreement.
The Associated Press reported that Obama’s wife, Michelle, shook her head in disappointment.
Unlike Britain, the chief executive here is not a prime minister but, instead, a president -- a head of state as well as government. American legislators would no more -- well, at least until today -- scream "You lie!" at a president than Brits would flip off the queen.
It would be like giving the finger to the nation itself.
Then again, they've developed quite the knack for that in the Palmetto State over the last century and a half. Wilson's fellow Republicans likewise seem eager to learn all the wrong lessons from history.