Section 370: Officially wasting time

You lie! That's right, you, reading this paper. That last thing you said to your friend in passing about your economics class was a lie. You see, I can say this to you. You are not someone in a higher position than me, not someone who takes on the awesome responsibility of running the free world.

But when Joe Wilson screamed out, "You lie," to President Barack Obama during an address to the entire Congress that was televised worldwide, now that is uncalled for.

This is an unprecedented event in our lifetime. Never has someone so blatantly disrespected the president on the floor of Congress. The president, whether you agree with him or not, deserves our respect for the awesome responsibilities he takes up on a daily basis.

Even when Democrats so violently disagreed with former President George W. Bush, never once did they scream out: "You're a moron!" or "It's nuclear, dummy!" This is because, although they disagreed with him, he was making the effort to reach out to Congress and address them. He deserved civility and respect from the legislative branch.

Disregarding the respect argument, you can consider the logistical problems this produces. If anyone can yell out anything they feel during the president's speeches, imagine the chaos it would create.

Barney Frank would yell about Republicans coming from another planet while Sam Brownback would remind him that Pluto is not a planet. Richard Shelby would scream out "Palin 2012!" followed by John McCain yelling to the president, "Where am I? Who are you people?" All the while, Nancy Pelosi would give them the look she gave Wilson: the look of a woman about to perform a public castration. The president would stop talking to Congress because of not only the time it took, but the hostility of Congress; the communication between two important branches of government would crumble.

Congress took the initiative this week and passed a bill censuring Wilson, a good move in my view. Or was it?

Let's look at what the bill said. Recently amended Section 370 of the House Rules and Manual states that a member is allowed to refer to the government as "something hated, something oppressive," refer to the president as "using legislative or judicial pork," refer to a presidential message as a "disgrace to the country" and refer to unnamed officials as "our half-baked nitwits handling foreign affairs."

Let's get this straight: on the floor you can call the president a "half-baked nitwit?" Why not add to the rules that you can also call him a "doobie-smoking hermaphrodite" or a "sewage-sucking prostitute?" Or let's add: "You can refer to unnamed officials with any obscenity but 'bitch.'"

This rule is ridiculous. What Congress should have done was say, "You may not speak when the president is giving a speech," and claim that Wilson's comment was "inappropriate and uncalled for" and gone on to censure him. That was all that was needed. Instead, they passed a series of ridiculous changes, no doubt to be used by the Republicans to claim Democrats are trying to limit free speech.

This was a poor political move and a mishandling of events. As Hillary Clinton would say, "Shame on you" Congress for taking what could have been an easily resolved matter and legislating it to the point of absurdity.

At least Wilson was censured. He can think about it while he counts up the $1 million he raised from constituents who apparently, like teenage girls, enjoy a man who breaks all the rules.

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