Josh Marshall | September 11, 2009, 3:50PM
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Democrats had signaled that a censure vote for Rep. Wilson (R-SC) was not in the cards. But new reports have the Dems and particularly Speaker Pelosi telling Wilson that he must either apologize to the House or face a censure motion. On a strictly political calculus, it's a little hard to figure. When someone is doing so much to damage themselves and their party, generally you try not to get in their way. The key, however, seems to be Wilson's increasingly unrepentant attitude over the last two days and his refusal to go down to the well of the House and apologize to the body for his actions.
I find myself a bit conflicted about this one. Whatever the politics of it, what Wilson did is simply so outrageous in the context of the history of Congress and really American history, that it really should not be allowed to stand. With all the outrageous stuff that goes on these days, with all the nonsense we chronicle here, this was simply shocking. When I heard the outburst during the speech I was certain it was someone in the galleries. The idea that a sitting member of Congress would scream out calling the president a liar to his face during an address to a joint session of Congress is simply unheard of.
People note the raucous sessions of the British House of Commons where there are all manner of hoots and hollers and jeering. And they have different traditions over there. Remember, the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Commons. But I believe it is actually forbidden, even there, to call any member of the House, let alone the PM, a liar (indeed, it's true)
What I guess it comes down to is that I'm not sure of the politics but I think it's probably just the right thing to do, notwithstanding the politics.
There is one other thought that occurs to me though. Given how many the tea-bagging right has rallied around Wilson, I don't think many House Republicans want to have that vote. They don't want to vote to censure him. On the other hand, voting in support of him would be a little troubling for a lot of voters too. So maybe there's better politics to this than I thought.
Censuring Wilson? | Talking Points Memo