Wilson Wrist Slap is Latest House Fight

Republicans say they will oppose move

By Glenn Thrush
|  Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009  |  Updated 3:00 AM PDT
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Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) will face his colleagues' wrath today.

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For a brief shining moment last week, Congress came together, Democrats and Republicans, hand in hand, to condemn Joe Wilson for uncivilly shouting “You lie!” at President Barack Obama.

But this is the House of Representatives, after all, where everything descends into partisan acrimony — even a process that began as an attempt to quell partisan acrimony.

The Democratic leadership — at the urging of Wilson’s fellow Palmetto Stater, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn — will push a “resolution of disapproval,” one click short of a censure on the House floor Tuesday.

Republicans have decided, en masse, to vote against the wrist slap.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was incensed by the outburst and personally provided Wilson with the White House contact information that facilitated Wilson’s apology to Obama, is voting no and urging his fellow Republicans to follow suit.

“Rep. Wilson has apologized to the president, and the president accepted his apology,” Boehner said in a statement.

“Last Thursday, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi said that she believed it was time to move on and discuss health care,” he added. “I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I plan to vote ‘no’ on this resolution. Instead of pursuing this type of petty partisanship, we should be working together to lower costs and expand access to affordable, high-quality health coverage on behalf of the American people.”

Republicans don’t need much encouragement. Leadership offices say virtually every member of their conference will vote against.

King’s Counterattack

Most House Republicans think Wilson’s behavior was boorish but now feel that Clyburn’s demand for an apology to the gathered House is a move meant to humiliate.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who recently observed that “white men” were being excluded from many Obama initiatives, is circulating a fill-in-your-name e-letter to House Republicans urging them to stiffen their spines and urge Wilson to fight back against the Dems’ anticipated motion against him Tuesday.

So far he’s gotten “dozens” of signers, according to GOP sources.

In the letter, King points out — quite accurately — that Obama referred to “prominent politicians” as liars for using dubious death panels, etc., to attack his health care plans. He also asserts — not quite so accurately — that the evidence points to the fact that Obama was actually lying.

“We urge that you hold your ground against those who seek partisan advantage and reject all demands for additional redress,” King concludes.

His rationale: “Joe Wilson is taking a lot of heat, and some of it is coming from Republicans. ... We all know Joe for the officer and gentleman that he is. I have penned a letter to him that urges him to stand his ground. It also points out that President Obama accused ‘prominent politicians’ of lying in the sentence just prior to Joe’s outburst. ... Just answer my e-mail with ‘put me on,’ and I will do the rest. Joe needs you now.”

Traficant: Rested and Ready

Former Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio), fresh out of the federal pokey, says he might be interested in running for his old Youngstown-area House seat — if for no other reason than to exact revenge.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he told CNN’s John Roberts. “Not sure at this point. The only way I can get back [at] the Justice Department is probably to go back to Congress. Both parties would not want to see me in Washington.”

He’s probably right about that one, though there are plenty of fourth estate members who would.

Added Traficant: “I don’t give a damn; you know, beam me up — I’m ready to if I decide to run.” The seat is currently occupied by fellow Democrat Tim Ryan.

Poll: 41 Percent Believe in Death Panels

A big new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll asks:

“If Obama’s plan became law, do you think senior citizens or seriously ill patients would die because government panels would prevent them from getting the medical treatment they needed?”

Would happen 41%

Would not happen 57%

No opinion 2%

That’s the bad news for Obama.

The good news is this:

“In reacting to President Obama’s health care proposals, do you think the Republicans are generally offering constructive criticism, or are they being obstructionist for mostly political reasons?”

Constructive 35%

Obstructionist 61%

No opinion 5%

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