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Everyday Ethics

Yelling “You lie!” at your president during an address to the joint session of congress. Just… wow. Does disrespect come any more egregious, more shameful, more heinous? If it does, I can’t imagine it.

Is it because our president is young? Liberal? Black? None of the above? All of the above? I honestly can’t imagine what possessed South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson to yell out as he did. As Rachel Maddow said of the shenanigans last night, “Better get something to pad your floor for when your jaw lands on it.” (I’m paraphrasing.)

Wilson later had the grace (or the savvy) to apologize, issuing a statement saying:

“This evening I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the president’s statement, my
comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies
to the president for this lack of civility.”

How about apologizing to your constituents, whom you represented so shamefully? How about remembering decorum? This isn’t the British Parliament, after all. Here in America we have a tradition of respecting our executive branch (at least outwardly), during such occasions of state. It’s a form of patriotism; of showing a united front to the world. And during a time when we are trying to accomplish badly needed reform for the people of our country, such blatantly partisan name-calling shows a clear lack of will to act with an open mind, to negotiate. It shows a man putting politics above the needs of his constituents. 

“I was embarrassed for the chamber and a Congress I love,” Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It demeaned the institution.”

Yep, it sure did. Even Obama’s former presidential rival, John McCain, said Wilson’s behavior was “totally disrespectful,” in an interview on CNN. “There is no place for it in that setting, or any other, and he should apologize for it immediately,” said Senator McCain.

Joe Wilson, you certainly get the ethical wag of the finger for the week.

What do you all think? Is it OK to heckle the President of the United States during an address to Congress?

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