The old adage — “It’s better to be thought of as a fool and keep your mouth shut than to open it and remove all doubt” — certainly applied to the Republicans in the House chamber last night as they watched President Obama’s speech. They displayed all the maturity and attention span of a group of unruly sixth-graders (apologies to all those well-behaved sixth-graders out there); twittering, BlackBerrying, fidgeting, making faces, holding up hand-made signs, and now reduced to heckling by one representative from South Carolina who obviously wasn’t paying attention when his mother taught him to play nice.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) will probably achieve some kind of hero status within the hard-core right wing; he’ll be championed as a “voice of the people” by the Orcosphere and the radio wing-nut brigade (in spite of the fact that he’s already apologized to the president), and he will join the other Joe, as in The Plumber, as another bonehead in search of his fifteen minutes of fame. And there will undoubtedly be some diligent blogger who will come up with a YouTube of a Democrat who picked his nose during a speech by President Bush to justify Mr. Wilson’s outburst as being on the same level of disrespect.
Fine; let them carry on. All it does is prove that if you had any doubt about the Republicans’ unwillingness to work on healthcare reform or held out any hope that there could be a bipartisan approach to it, last night pretty much proved it is a waste of time to even bother. The president did his best to make it sound like he wants to work with them and even include their ideas, but even he showed that he has his limits. Now he can move forward with his plans and pass the bills without having to worry about whether or not there are will be any support for them from the other side of the aisle.