Friday, December 10, 2010

"Fuck the President" vs. "You Lie": Which Is Worse

According to several reports, an angry -- but unidentified -- House Democrat said "fuck the president" during a very heated caucus regarding the compromise on tax cuts. I tend to believe that such language is generally unhelpful in public discourse.

In terms of civility and respect for the office of the presidency (not necessarily the individual occupying it), this reminds me of the infamous "you lie" moment during a speech that Obama delivered to Congress regarding healthcare reform. Joe Wilson, a House Republican from South Carolina, essentially heckled the president, but his comment generated so much heat from liberals that he subsequently issued a formal apology. Much of the liberal commentary accused Wilson of inappropriate behavior and racism.

I doubt that the House Democrat's outburst will generate the same reaction. First, the person remains unidentified. Second, liberals probably do not want to bring attention to their own lack of decorum or, even worse, racism. C'est la vie.


Anonymous said...

Weren't these two comments uttered in fairly different forums? One in a (closed-door?) caucus meeting. The other on a nationally televised speech in front of Congress? Doesn't that make a big difference?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

James -- potentially. But I don't think "closed-door" makes it entirely different. It was still in a professional setting among colleagues.

w.g.hanna said...

I often say that a little trash talk among friends is social lubrication. Like, I have friends that I get on with despite personality traits that go up my ass. There's no sense in getting on them about it: if he hasn't changed in 10 years, he isn't going to change now - so why bust his balls about it? But sometimes I vent to common friends.

Now, when somebody outside our crew starts talking smack - especially to third parties and in a way meant to hurt or insult my friend - grab your balls and your bat, baby, cause its gonna be a bar fight.

in this case, you have a person from another party with a history of positions and statements that are arguably racist heckling the president during a nationally televised speech. i happen to think there should be more heckling - fuck decorum! he's the president - if he can't deal with a verbal challenge in public maybe he ought to step aside. and i'd rather have a robust debate than a polite one.

that said, a bunch of democrats are in a back room and one says, "the president is pushing for us to water down this bill . . . " or "the president wants us to prioritize bill a over bill b" and a fellow democrat says "fuck the president" - sure is a bit different.

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