It's early and I don't quite have the mental acuity yet to deal with Obama's speech, so I'm going to deal with the right wing reaction right now. In sum, it appears to be, "I can't fucking BELIEVE that these stupid Democrats think anyone but me is a human being with feelings."
Obviously, the most famous example of this was Joe Wilson yelling, "You lie!" at President Obama last night, when Obama was absolutely not lying. Wilson freaked out when Obama told the sad truth, which is that illegal immigrants will be excluded from this plan. There's a sort of right wing perfection in lying about whether or not someone else is lying, and Wilson achieved it. This really isn't that shocking. By the end of the town hall season, groups of rabid wingnuts resorted to simply booing Democrats whenever said Democrats had the audacity to state plain truths. The wingnuts have reached a point where hearing the truth creates a Pavlovian reaction of anger and perhaps physical disgust. They should be given allergy shots before hearing the truth, for their own protection, and perhaps under universal health care, a plan can be created to address just that.
Wilson's response after his outburst was interesting. As Pam reports, Wilson said, "While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable." But what does he disagree with? This is the offensive non-opinion:
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
Wilson disagrees with a statement of fact. He might as well have booed the President for saying the sky is blue. I suppose you can disagree with a statement of fact, but I wouldn't think it wise to run around telling people about it. It makes you sound unbelievably stupid. Perhaps Wilson might have been better off pleading that he has a medical condition that causes allergic reactions to plain statements of fact.
But what's interesting to me is that Wilson got all bent out of shape at the very mention of illegal immigrants, even if the President was agreeing with the right wing belief that they should just be tossed out on the street to die the second that they get a sniffle that might interfere with the work they're being paid a dollar an hour to do. It's obviously very, very important to the right wing base that there's not even a hint of understanding the illegal immigrants are human beings, and that when they get sick and suffer, it's exactly like when white Americans who vote Republican get sick and suffer. Just look at that picture of him, and his eyes flashing with deranged anger. He just knows that the President is sending secret signals of understanding that illegal immigrants are human beings, and he disagrees.
If that's how a wingnut reacts to imagined empathy, you can just imagine how they react to the genuine threat of being made to feel that there are human beings that are not themselves. Roy Edroso waded into the much at NRO, and of all the childish taunting and freaking out, I think I was most amused with Tevi Troy's self-congratulatory outrage that the President would actually argue that other people are human. Maybe even poor people!
I predicted this morning that tonight President Obama would tell sad tales of Americans who lack access to health insurance, complain about his critics, and present his goals more than details of his approach. The White House has now released excerpts of the speech and a list of the guests in the First Lady's box, and it looks like my predictions were on the mark. First, the box is full of Americans who have tragically been struck by health crises and not been served well by our current system.
Shocking! Troy is an amazing seer. He alone among men realized that the President and Democrats were low and dirty enough to suggest that other people have feelings, and that we should give a shit. Someone give this man a Nobel Prize. Oh wait, they award prizes based on the belief that others are human beings? Forget it, then.
Running against the idea that human beings that aren't you---if you're a right wing asshole---are still human beings strikes me as a dangerous ploy. I can't imagine it was just liberals who were scandalized when a wingnut lady tried to shut up a pro-health care Israeli by yelling "Heil Hitler" at him. From what I understand, most people develop basic empathy before they even start kindergarten, so well before they reach voting age. Granted, a small percentage of people (called sociopaths) don't ever develop empathy, but again, I don't really see them as a voting bloc that's big enough that you can really gain a lot of ground pandering to them. This mockery of the Democrats and their idea that other people are human seems like it would be offensive to the vast majority of adult voters, who have developed a basic sense of empathy.
Okay, all kidding aside, I know what they're doing. Being a right wing asshole is hard work, if you think about it. Like I said, most people develop a sense of empathy in early childhood, and maintaining right wing political beliefs takes a lot of work in shutting that down. The flailing and mockery you're seeing is a defensive maneuver. When liberals remind them that other people are human, that stirs that damn sense of empathy, and that is dangerous, because it might make you reconsider why you're being so hateful and ungenerous to your fellow human beings. Basic human decency starts to be regarded as a partisan weapon. Those liberals with their appeals to basic decency are trying to make you look weak. One minute, you're thinking, "God, it's not right that a hard-working person who does everything right should be bankrupted and left out to die because their disease wasn't profitable for some insurance company," and the next minute, you turn into a vagina. That's what those Democrats are trying to do to you, and the only protection is to flail around, denying the basic humanity of, well, pretty much everyone, because everyone is vulnerable to this fucked up joke of a health care system we've got.