Corporate media in Washington demand further concessions by Democrats on all issues, while encouraging Republicans to be more fiercely assertive. The pundits call this bipartisanship, and they say it's just what the country needs.
But even a few ranking Republicans found the policy temporarily uncomfortable after Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “You lie!” at President Obama — an unprecedented, near- unimaginable insult to a commander in chief addressing Congress. They suggested an apology; Wilson grudgingly gave a sort-of one.
And that was enough for his party mates. Wilson and the leadership are now in step and on course again, regretting only the apology, evidently. The previously obscure legislator has become a popular fund-raiser for Republican candidates. People who attend a rally for a congressional hopeful in Michigan will be allowed to have their pictures made with Joe Wilson in exchange for a $150 contribution. (We're reminded of the old joke. Maybe a $200 contribution will entitle you not to have your picture made with Joe Wilson.) Wilson is personally soliciting funds for Virginia Republicans, and the national Republican Congressional Committee has sent out an appeal from him on behalf of conservative Republicans everywhere. Only Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are more highly regarded as spokesmen for the party. If he'd taken a shot at Obama instead of merely yelling, Wilson would probably be number one — a thought that's likely occurred to him too, and other Republican congressmen. Don't put it past them. Another South Carolina Republican, Dean Allen, kicked off his campaign for adjutant general of the state's National Guard with what he called “a machine-gun social,” at which guests paid $25 for barbecue, a clip of bullets for target practice and a ticket for a raffle of a semiautomatic AK-47. Was Obama's face on those targets? We wouldn't bet against it. Would Fox News suggest that Obama was asking for it? Most likely.
This is what the party of Lincoln has come to. Contrary to popular belief, change is not always good. Granted, lack of change is not always good either. South Carolina hasn't changed since 1861; Joe Wilson would have fit cozily in a mob of slave owners shouting for secession. Really, the state hasn't changed much since 1856, when another South Carolina congressman brutally caned a Massachusetts senator for opposing slavery. Today, it's pretty clear that America would be a better place without South Carolina, but Mr. Lincoln wouldn't let it go. He always thought more highly of people than they deserved. And look what it got him.