Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Was This a Joe Wilson Moment? - Updated

One of my colleagues has headlined U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's reaction to President Obama's criticism of last week's election funding ruling as "Alito is the New Wilson....."

I disagree.

I thought the president's dressing down of an entire branch of the U.S. Government in the way he did to be closer to what Joe Wilson had done, than was Alito's silent reaction to the president's very public comment. And I do not like Justice Alito or his views much at all.

But I found the president's comment to be inappropriate. SC Rep. Joe Wilson broke decorum at a joint session last year, when he shouted "You lie!" at the president. Wilson was loud, he was obstreperous, and he was wrong.

Even in the midst of the gathering clouds and first three years of the U.S. Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was always publicly civil toward Chief Justice Roger Taney, who was as responsible for the climate that created the Civil War as was just about anyone.

President Obama seemed to be immediately a bit regretful of having said it the way he did. He was wrong to express his frustration so publicly.

I don't think he needs to apologize to the Supremes, but Justice Alito's reaction to the president's statement was understandable.

Update - Thursday - 7:00 a.m: I do like this comment in an essay by Attaturk at firedoglake:

Alito has now spoken more in the House Chamber than Clarence Thomas has in the Supreme Court.

Update - Thursday - 7:50 a.m:
Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein on Democracy Now this morning, analyzing the State of the Union address with Amy Goodman:


anon. said...

this is Obama's statement:

“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign companies -- to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

Being as there is nothing false in Obama's statement, your finding it 'inappropriate' isn't comparable to Wilson's actions nor does that justify Alito's response.

As to Lincoln's civility or lack thereof, you don't cite the many instances that Lincoln publicly derided both the philosophical leaning of Roger Taney, nor his publicly announced displeasure towards Taney's rulings.

As to your personal diagnosis that Obama may have 'regretted' saying what he did, that's only a rhetorical device to inject nothing more than your personal assumption.

That you find Alito's reaction to be 'understandable' doesn't lend Alito's reaction any merit.

I for one find Obama's honesty and willingness to speak truth to be not only refreshing, but admirable and necessary.

AKjah said...

I am wondering why Obama did not call the justices complete assholes. I did listen to the whole Demnow about Howard Zinn and i will burn a candle for him now. His writings changed my life and i wont forget.