Playground Politics Go National....

Health care costs are careening out of control - in the last decade, employer-provided premiums have risen 119 percent - four times the rate of inflation and wages, according to the National Coalition on Health Care.

The number of uninsured Americans has grown to 46.3 million, an increase attributed to the job losses seen in the last year.

Providing and paying for health care in America is seriously flawed these days. Thus, there is a push for reform.

The president appears before Congress to outline key goals and provide motivation to affect change in this area. And what happens?

Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouts out mid-speech that the president is a liar.

It was, according to the NY Times, a rare breach of protocol.

If you've got children, you know this kind of screeching happens all the time on the playground. And you know that calling someone a liar is never an appropriate way to solve a problem - especially when the other person isn't lying.

At this time of crisis, at this moment when America is experiencing critical failure in so many areas - health care, jobs, banking - the list of wounded sectors is endless - a vociferously loud branch of the Republican party has decided to opt out of rational discussion, choosing instead to favor tactics used by playground bullies.

For whatever reason, Republicans have made the decision to view anything said by the president as false. Joe Wilson calls him a liar during an address to Congress. Jim Greer of Florida rages wildly about an innocuous speech to students. Sarah Palin talks about how health care reform will end up killing granny, thanks to the death panels that don't exist in any of the pending legislation.

These Republicans have decided that to respect the president of the United States is not an option. And they've decided to engage in low and dirty discourse, instead of fighting hard to help their constituents.

America can be a "large-hearted" nation. We can be a beacon of hope to those in distress. But not today, apparently, with one party in the thrall of playground bullies.

President Obama warned about this in his speech last night - he knows that if we ever reach a point...

"...When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves."

If there's any hope following Joe Wilson's howl, it's that his Democratic challenger has raised approximately $200,000 since the gaffe. Americans don't favor bullies in the House, apparently.

Some links about the speech follow below....

Text of the President's speech

The (official) Republican response

WSJ story on backlash felt by Wilson

WaPo's Dana Milbank's story on the speech


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