Friday, September 11, 2009

The Strange Politeness of the US Congress

'Faut-il cracher sur Joe Wilson?' as the French would say. The South Carolina Congressman has been the villain of the piece ever since his boorish two-word heckling of Barack Obama Wednesday during the President's healthcare address to Congress. Alex Massie thinks not. He mounts an amusing defence of Wilson, who is, in Graham Greene's expression, probably not 'man enough to be damned' in any case. But Massie is more concerned by the culture of deference that prevails in the chambers of the US congress, raising the President, whom Massie correctly points out, was in political, not executive mode, on Wednesday night, to the level of monarch. Heckling, as per Westminster, should be part of the game, and should not be subject to sniffy moralising on either side of the aisle. It would also, as Alex says, force the President to raise his game. It would be far better for US politics, and society in general, if this sterile environment in Congress were done away with and the focus of political debate shifted there from the poisonous surroundings of news TV and talk radio (and MSNBC, I'm talking about you as much as at Fox).

In Praise of Joe Wilson - Page 1 - The Daily Beast