So last night, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina spoke out in an unbecoming outburst, during the President’s speech before Congress (not that he was really addressing Congress, but that’s not Obama; that’s presidents in general). In case you’ve been in a cave this morning, Obama claimed that his health care plan—which he has now essentially vowed to push through, no matter what, and if the Republicans don’t like it, that’s just because they’re stupid whiners—would not apply to illegal immigrants. Representative Wilson yelled out, right then and there, “You lie!” (Nancy Pelosi was not amused.)
So here’s the problem: Wilson’s outburst was inappropriate, but not necessarily inaccurate. And even if one does believe that Wilson is wrong, he spoke his beliefs, which last I checked, was still okay in this country. So the question now is: how does Wilson—a virtual unknown, until last night—turn this into a positive?
Wilson has been apologizing (through his people, of course) almost since the speech ended. This is a good start, but it’s not enough. In the brief time we watched Boston Legal, I gleaned an interesting—but very accurate—insight: apologies don’t win cases; defenses do. What Wilson needs to do is get out before the press and say, “Listen, guys…. I know I shouldn’t have interrupted the President during his speech. That was disrespectful, and there’s no excuse for that. But here’s why I did it: …” …and explain his actions. Here’s why this will work:
Before last night, Wilson was an unknown. Now, he’s a laughingstock. His own party is distancing itself from him. The opposition is attacking like a rabid werebeaver. His opponent in next year’s election has already received over $100,000 in grass-roots campaign donations, since last night. He’s got to turn the tide, and without a but, all the apologies in the world won’t accomplish that.
By including that large BUT in his apology, he turns a random outburst into a logical segue into an even more logical, well–thought-out argument. Obama’s speech was already logical and well thought out. You can fight crazy with crazy, but you can only fight smart with smart. Right now, Obama’s the smart one; Wilson’s the crazy. Until he turns that perception around, his outburst will do more to bolster Obama’s position than all the Obama speeches in the world.
Love him, hate him, or not even know him, Representative Wilson has a unique opportunity to do what the rest of the world has only begun to do: take down Obamacare. He stole the spotlight from our illustrious President, and he’s got about 24 hours to grab that attention before he becomes an ex-Representative and a footnote in history.