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Democratic Overkill Over Rep. Wilson's Foolish Eruption

By Seattle Times, Seattle Times - September 16, 2009

POLITICAL parties in power often overreach. So it was Tuesday when the U.S. House led by the Democrats passed an unnecessary and partisan resolution of disapproval against Rep. Joe Wilson.

Yes, the South Carolina Republican who yelled "You lie" during President Obama's health-care speech last week is an ill-mannered individual. He rudely interrupted the president, embarrassed Congress and made a fool of himself on the national stage.

Wilson promptly apologized to Obama and the president accepted the apology. Wilson revealed his bad manners and lack of self-control. Voters of the Palmetto State should take his poor judgment into serious account in next year's congressional race because he also tarnished the reputation of South Carolina, which is not having a good year in politics.

House Democratic leaders correctly note Wilson violated the decorum and integrity of the House. He did indeed. But one apology should cover it. The rest is grandstanding.

Technically, a disapproval resolution is less severe than more common rebukes of reprimand, censure and expulsion, but proceeding with the resolution amounts to overkill. Having a tool that allows Congress to publicly scold a member doesn't mean it makes sense to use it. Withholding a punishment can be more powerful than administering it.

Democrats are overreacting to their good fortune: a Republican making a fool of himself. The more dignified response would have been restraint.

Just because a loudmouthed congressman served up a dud doesn't mean the House should spend valuable time "disapproving" him. The health-care debate looms.

Democrats had the upper hand but with their shortsighted and ultimately useless resolution yielded it to the impolite representative from South Carolina.

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