Reporter's Note: President Obama spoke last night about his efforts to reform health care. I spoke with my wife last night about my efforts to clean the garage. The thing is, both President Obama and I have other items on our agenda too…for example, me writing a letter to the White House every day and the president, perhaps, reading it.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/10/obama.heckled.speech/art.joe.wilson.heckling.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You lie" after President Obama denied health reform would cover illegal immigrants."]
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
I had a whole letter written and ready to send, and then that Congressman yelled at you during your speech and well…it’s been on my mind ever since. So I just got home from the office a short while ago, it’s midnight, the whole family is asleep, and I’m sitting here with the dog doing a rewrite. (And btw, she’s not helping much.)
When that Representative barked (out of decorum, I won’t mention his name…although it was South Carolina’s Joe Wilson…uh…I mean, never mind) I wasn’t entirely sure what he’d said. I thought it was “liar” or “you’re lying” or possibly “Does anyone have change for a five?” As I understand it, what he actually said was “You lie.” Odd syntax, don’t you think? Sounds like something you might hear in an ESL class.
Anyway, there are several things that trouble me about this. First, accusing someone on Capitol Hill of a lie is like accusing them of breathing. It is not so much a cheap shot as just a waste of everyone’s time. There are some good and relatively honest folks up there, but politics and truth often hang out on different corners.
Second, as best I can make out as I have waded through the massive swaths of these bills, he was wrong. Despite relentless accusations that illegal immigrants will be covered, that just does not seem to be the case. You said so immediately before he sounded off, and you appear to be right.
And third, we just don’t do that to presidents in our country. Or at least we shouldn’t. I know the Congressman apologized almost as soon as the speech was done, and said he got carried away by his emotions. I understand such things. This is a highly charged issue with intense feelings on both sides. There are people who genuinely, honestly believe you are not shooting straight on this issue. There are people who, with great patriotism in their hearts, think you are trying to turn the country Socialist.
But no matter what you, or George Bush, or Bill Clinton, or Ronald Reagan, or Richard Nixon, or James Garfield, or William Howard Taft, believe or have to say, as long as you are saying it with the mantle of the Presidency on your shoulders, the office deserves respect. Maybe I’m old-fashioned or hopelessly standing on ceremony, but I don’t like for my president to be yelled at, whether I agree with him or not.
Mind you, I don’t like being yelled at by Presidents either, but that’s another story. Hope it didn’t spoil your night. Call if you can.
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