The headline on Eric Greene’s Sunday article in the Battle Creek Enquirer says, “Outburst shows lunacy of reform opposition.” That is not true. If anything, Greene’s article and its headline show the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of mainstream journalism, as well as its professional incompetence.
Joe Wilson was guilty of bad manners. But even worse than bad manners is the failure to speak out against our President’s disinformation campaign.
Greene doesn’t use the word “unprecedented” to refer to Wilson’s heckling, which is good, because it isn’t unprecedented despite what the White House says. An investigative reporter (or anyone else) can go to YouTube to watch a replay of the loud heckling and booing that President Bush received during his 2005 State of the Union address. And I recall that back in the days when I used to watch these speeches myself, there was Tip O’Neill at the SOTU making fun of President Reagan behind his back while he spoke.
But Greene insinuates that this kind of opposition is something new when he says America’s discourse “has veered into the surreal these past few months” and “It’s time to shove this insanity back into the dark recesses where it belongs.” Greene doesn’t mention the celebrity lunatics who were hinting broadly that Bush should be assassinated, or the members of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi who encouraged disruptive dissent when it was directed against Bush.
And just because the Bush-hating left were out of their minds doesn’t mean every one of their criticisms of Bush’s war policies was wrong.
One can be suspicious that it isn’t really Wilson’s bad manners or the methods of public discourse that Greene is criticizing. It’s not just the headline writer who has a bigger agenda. Greene gives himself away when he writes:
Although Wilson quickly apologized for his outburst, I’m not convinced of his sincerity since he was ordered to do so by his Republican bosses and since he continued to call the president a liar afterward.
Nor do I think Wilson’s emotions erupted in a vacuum. Some Republicans throughout the speech made it obvious they were more interested in their cell phones or in the theatrics of holding up paper copies of GOP legislation. Many also defended Wilson’s charge while wagging their finger at his method of delivery.
In other words, not only is it bad manners for Wilson to interrupt the President, but it’s bad even to disagree with his statement.
Greene writes, “Journalists and researchers widely agree that Obama spoke truthfully in his speech.” But journalists are hardly objective observers. These are the same people who throw Obama the softest of softball questions during his press conferences. Their abdication of their professional duties is what makes it necessary for people like Joe Wilson to do something to draw attention to what they have ignored.
Since Wednesday night Senators Kent Conrad and Max Baucus have decided that the provisions about illegal immigration should be tightened up a bit anyway. In other words, there was a point that needed to be addressed, one which the media had failed to tell us about.
Not that it’s anything new for something like this to happen. We are used to political partisanship on the part of the mainstream media. But Greene is taking it to new extremes, using authoritarian language of a type that Russian thug Vladimir Putin uses to tell the opposition to shut up and get out of the way:
Some viewed these carnivals of cacophony as freedom of speech in healthy action. Others saw them the same way they do street performers: entertaining for a time, but ultimately just an obstacle on the sidewalk.
losing one’s cool in front of the guy who’ll ultimately sign the law that may change everything about health care is quite another.
In Russia one may need to write that way to avoid becoming one of the many journalists who have been gunned down or pushed out of an upper story window. But that kind of talk is not appropriate for a journalist in a democratic republic.