Obama blasts Dems in Congress for wanting to censure Joe “You Lie!” Wilson


Even as Democrats on Capitol Hill call for a rebuke of Rep. Joe Wilson for his outburst last week at the president’s address, Barack Obama downplayed the need for a further censure of the South Carolina Republican, saying the whole thing is becoming a “big circus.”

“See, this is part of what happens,” Obama said, when asked about Wilson by interviewer Steve Kroft on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” “I mean, it just becomes a big circus instead of us focusing on health care.”

Some Democrats, led by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), are pushing for an official censure of Wilson, with a floor vote on the resolution coming as early as Tuesday.

Joe Wilson is the best thing to happen to Barack Obama in nine months in office. The last thing you do, politically, is try to squelch the fires. The same anger and extremism that led to Wilson’s outburst also led to the August townhall meetings fiasco that derailed Obama’s health care reform. Wilson’s overt, public, nuttiness finally gave Obama the chance to knock the teabag crowd on its collective butt. Rather than pile on, Obama and Senate Democrats chose to oblige Wilson by tightening the anti-immigrant (and anti-abortion) provisions of the legislation. Wilson (among others), as a result, is now saying that he was justified in doing what he did, and that Obama did lie, otherwise there would have been nothing for Obama and the Senate Dems to tighten. And today, Obama is undercutting the effort again.

Why? As we’ve already noted, Obama doesn’t do drama, which he has apparently interpreted to include fighting for policy initiatives, and more generally, taking on Republicans. But what’s really happening here, I think, is that the president is trying to boost his own numbers at the expense of Democratic members of Congress. By referring to Democratic efforts to censure Wilson as a “circus,” the president is feeding the public’s negativity towards Congress, and towards Democrats specifically, since they’re leading the effort. Obama has repeatedly drawn an equivalence between far-right nuts and core constituencies and members of Congress in his own party. While this mini-Sista-Souljah may help Obama position himself as some kind of above-the-fray adult, it also makes it harder for Democrats in Congress to ge re-elected, and hold their majorities, next year. And at some point, Democrats in Congress may decide that it’s more important to keep their own jobs, and hold their majority, than defend a president who doesn’t have much interest in defending them.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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