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Joe Wilson and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Heckle


A lot of outlets have reported that Rep. Joe Wilson called Rahm Emanuel to apologize for screaming "You lie!" during the president's speech. But Dana Milbank adds some delicious detail to the story:

An incensed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel went up to GOP Reps. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) to complain about the outburst. "No president has ever had that happen," Emanuel said. "My advice is he apologize immediately. You know my number."

That was not, I imagine, a pleasant conversation for Wilson to have. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent, Rob Miller, has raised more than $100,000 in the past 24 hours through his ActBlue donations page. All in all, a bad day for Joe Wilson.

That said, I'd like to extend an offer to the good congressman: If we're going to adopt British norms of political behavior, we should also adopt British norms of governance. It's fine to have a polarized system when the majority can wield power. You just can't have it when you need a supermajority --- which is to say, a high level of consensus -- to get anything done. So if we're going to move toward British-style heckling, lets also move toward British-style majority rule. Deal?

Photo credit: Melina Mara -- The Washington Post Photo .

By Ezra Klein  |  September 10, 2009; 11:17 AM ET
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joe and mark - latest arrivals.

my imaginary elba is getting awfully crowded with banished political exiles.
beginning his passage,
will be the next arrival.
he can put endless rows of "x" marks on the mossy, limestone wall,
leaning against the other side of the ancient wall,
is a poet,
under the pseudonymn of "mark" neruda,
writing endless love sonnets on the cool stones,
with a small pebble.

no taxpayer money involved in their accomodations.
the pebbles are free,
and they can yell all they want.
no-one to hear their excuses and epithets.
enjoy your accomodations,

Posted by: jkaren | September 10, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Why stop with the UK, when we can aspsire to the Korean standard:

Posted by: eRobin1 | September 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Bravo Ezra Klein! I absolutely agree with this analysis!

Posted by: maidela | September 10, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

How about adopting a British style of health care while we're at it.

Posted by: evietoo | September 10, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

props on the shout-out to one of the best picture books a child can read--alexander and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day

Posted by: celdred | September 10, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

He looks drunk to me.

Posted by: RoninColo | September 10, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

A bit of information.

In the US, the president is the head of state as well as a political figure.

In parliamentary systems, such as Canada and the UK, there is a prime minister and separately a head of state.

In the UK, the head of state is the Queen. In Canada, symbolically it is the Queen but it is the Queen in Right of Canada. But the 'real' head of state is the Governor-General of Canada. In almost all (Byng) matters they must follow the wishes of the prime minister

The practice in both UK and Canada is that the opposition members can heckle the prime minister in the House of Commons.

But that heckling isn't directed against the head of state.

In the US, heckling the president is an attack upon the head of state.

Posted by: shelgreen | September 10, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I think Nate Silver has it right......the best tbings out of the speech were Joe Wilson's reaction and the Republicans sitting on their hands when Obama said "no one in this country should go bankrupt over medical bills"....really?? Republicans are OK with this? Sad.

After I read this in TPM I was pleased to contribute to Rob Miller's campaign: " 2003, not long after the death of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Thurmond's bi-racial, out-of-wedlock daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, came forward to say that Thurmond was her father..... Wilson made headlines for telling The State newspaper that Washington-Williams should have kept the shameful secret to herself.

Wilson later apologized."

Enough of the closet (or not so closeted) racism.

Posted by: scott1959 | September 10, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"The practice in both UK and Canada is that the opposition members can heckle the prime minister in the House of Commons.

But that heckling isn't directed against the head of state.

In the US, heckling the president is an attack upon the head of state."


It must also be noted that the "British norms of behavior" to which Ezra refers have to do with heckling and criticizing the positions of one's opponent during parliamentary debates, which can and do get quite heated and acrimonious.

There is an *enormous* difference between a debate in Parliament and an address by the head of state to the Parliament and House along with the entire nation.

Ezra, please read up on British politics before making comments like this about our behavior.

Posted by: litbrit | September 10, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilson nailed it. I'm sending him some money. I'd have been even happier if he hadn't apologized to the thug.

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | September 10, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to heckle, especially to call someone a liar, you should probably not be lying yourself. As a heckling connoisseur myself, I am disappointed.

Posted by: etdean1 | September 10, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Joe!!!
If you think Joe Wilson's opponent is getiing alot of donations, just wait until you see Joe's donations.
The office of President of the United States does deserve respect, but the man who holds it has not been giving it the respect it deserves. This man does not even like the United States or the principles it was built on.

Posted by: livefree3 | September 10, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh, galtard, your white sheet is showing. Off to the bigot corner with you.

In the British House of Commons, you can't call someone a liar. That's by the bye: the member from SC has had more attention in the past day than he deserves for the next twenty years.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | September 10, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

One more Joe-ism in the white sheet category: this is the same guy who pushed to have the Confederate Flag flown above the SC statehouse.

Rob Miller's campaign fund as of 4:00 is up 10x what it was.

Posted by: scott1959 | September 10, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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