Apology Still Needed

Let me first say that I still have not seen President Obama’s speech to our nation tonight. We’re decided to make it a “homework night” around here, so the television is off.

However, I have already seen one clip from the speech, involving the unbecoming behavior of Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

Rep. Wilson heckled President Obama in the middle of his speech, and specifically at the moment when Obama was promising that healthcare reform will not cover illegal immigrants. He yelled out that President Obama is a liar.

Before I get into his behavior and the apology he still owes the nation, I am gong to pretend for a moment that the question his outburst begs is one that needs answering.

During the entire month of August, the blogosphere has been burning up with the allegation that President Obama does support covering illegal immigrants, despite his repeated denials on this point.

Some say they do not believe President Obama because they do not trust him.

Others say they do not believe President Obama because of a report from a committee related to Congress which has pointed out linquistic inconsistencies in one of the three bills working its way through the House.

Best I can tell, this linguistic inconsistency, in one of three possible House bills, is the only tangible evidence that anyone can point to for this claim that illegal immigrants will be “covered” under healthcare reform. What the committee actually found is that it *might* leave the door open to illegal immigrants to get healthcare.

Not *will.*

Might.

But as you will see in a moment, it’s a moot point. Because after Rep. Wilson’s stunning breach of etiquette tonight, I used the miracle of “The Google,” and in about ten seconds was downloading a copy of HB 3200, the current bill from the House Ways and Means Committee.

You can download it too. Knock yourself out here.

Then after you’re done, scroll down to page 143. Or, alternatively, search the file for the word “alien.”

If you’re too hurried to do either of those, let me just cite Section 246, lines 3-7:

3 SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS.
“Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

So, before we go any further, I want to ask all those who might believe in Rep. Wilson’s claim this question:

Do you still believe there is any legitimate reason, beyond paranoia, to call President Obama a “liar” on this issue?

The facts are these:

1) There is no final bill yet. Everything (yes, including this language) is still being negotiated.
2) I have just provided proof that at least one of the three House bill explicitly rejects providing coverage to illegal immigrants.
3) President Barack Obama has repeatedly promised (including tonight) that the final bill will not allow coverage for illegal immigrants.

With those three facts before us, is there any credible reason to call President Obama a “liar” on this issue?

You see, even if one investigates the alleged “lie” behind Rep. Wilson’s outburst, we find there is no factual basis for claiming that President Obama has lied.

Which bring us to the outburst itself…

As just about everyone on the left and right have said tonight, this outburst was totally unacceptable from a member of Congress. Many thanks to Senator John McCain for courageously calling on him to apologize and to do so quickly. And, from all accounts, he did apologize to President Obama earlier tonight.

But his apology remains incomplete because his offense was not simply to President Obama, but to all Americans.

Rep. Wilson’s behavior might be acceptable at in the British Parliament. It might be acceptable on the Jerry Springer Show. We might even (and apparently do) tolerate it in “Town Hall” meetings. But that kind of outburst has no place during an address to Congress by the President of the United States.

Rep. Wilson owes us all an apology.

Not only does he appear to be wrong on the facts, he is most certainly wrong in his personal conduct, and should immediately revise and extend his apology to include the entire nation.

I decried the tone of rhetoric in our society right now sometime back in another blog entry.

In my wildest imagination, I never would have guessed we’d be decrying that same socially unacceptable behavior on the floor of Congress!!!

Rep. Wilson’s behavior in no way besmirches the reputation of the vast majority of good Republicans in government.

Instead, until he extends and broadens his apology, his behavior besmirches us all.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

6 thoughts on “Apology Still Needed

  1. There is a subtle, yet perceptable undertone of racism behind a lot of the violently hateful rhetoric being spread about Obama and "his" healthcare reform.The Republican party is allowing it's ignorant and fearful base to make a mockery of the party, and I think they will pay a political price for it. At least I really hope that there are enough sensible voters out there who are turned off about this nonsense to vote the Democrats an even larger majority. I don't say that because I'm a big Democrat, but because the Republican party must learn to turn away from the far right if they are to become a viable party again.Blessings,:) Michael Raphael

  2. Yeah man, you said it; I found the apology reflexive and watered-down to say the least.The only good thing I can see in this is that it's making everyone backpedal a little bit; if Congress had a lunchroom, I could see Mr. Wilson eating his sandwiches alone for the next little while.Oh and Rob Miller, the guy running against Joe Wilson in the upcoming election raised $20,000 tonite alone. Money talks, and the People have spoken. Again, thank-you for keeping it real.

  3. I think the man apologized so quickly in order to get the focus off of him and his compadres. This was by no means a genuine apology in my opinion. He did not apologize for being factually inaccurate. (Agreed that the particular behavior is highly contextual, re British Parliament.)

  4. Every rational, thinking person needs to be careful here. Michael Raphael, throwing out the racist card is a tired old bunch of nonsense that has been perpetrated by the left for too long. Just because I don't agree with Pres. Obama does not make me a racist, if anything, the people he has selected for his cabinet, czars, and Supreme Court indicate to me that he is the one with a racist bent (not to mention 20 years of Jeremiah Wright!). Eric, I agree that Rep. Wilson was way out of line and needs to learn to be a statesman and keep his passions in check. At the same time, there have been so many lies told in the last year+ by Mr. Obama that I have no reason to believe much of anything he says. Also, don't be naive and think that the "facts" you list mean anything. 1. Ostensibly there is no final bill at this point, but the Dems are using the well-oiled "trial balloon" tactic that politicians on both sides of the political spectrum use way too frequently (Hey Congress, ever heard of bearing false witness?!). 2. There is other language in the bill (yes like a geek, I have read it) that contradicts said "proof". 3. See above. I respect the Office of President, and submit (per Scripture) to the authority placed over me by God, but I do not trust this man, and am not naive enough to think that he has the best interest of the country in mind.The bottom line is that we have been deceived for a long time by those to whom we have entrusted our votes both Republicans and Democrats. As a whole, our political class has turned against Christ, spit on the Constitution, and disdained the American electorate for too long. With a few exceptions, they are a bunch of elitist, arrogant jerks who need to be reminded for whom they work! We need to stop being complacent and start taking back our country, starting with serving one another in our own communities, towns, and states! We need to get people elected into office that have OUR interests at heart, not their own like Pres. Obama and his ilk. But let me tell you how I really feel…

  5. Spidey: As you might imagine, I am concerned by what you say. My main concern is that you have completely dismissed the factual proof on this issue, despite the fact that major news organizations across the spectrum are also agreeing with the assertions that I have made.If we can't proceed from known facts, and you are bent on judging this President because of your *feeling* for him ("lack of trust") then how can even debate these issues?I am sorry that you feel the President is such a serial liar. I tend to think he has been very clear about his priorities and has done so since the very beginning of the presidential campaign. You may disagree with those priorities, but he has been very clear about what they are.I don't really see how you can claim to respect the office of the president, and also claim to have absolutely no trust in the President. Those two things do not jibe.Now, had you said "I disagree with his policies, despite continuing my personal respect for him as President," then we could talk about what policies those are and how you might differ with them.But your assertions, like Rep. Wilson, seem not based on the facts but your own feelings. And we can't govern the country on your feelings (or mine. Or Rep. Wilson's).As for taking the country back, not even a year ago we finished the longest presidential race in our nation's history. All of these issues of healthcare reform were debated as a part of that campaign. The American people *did* make a choice by casting their votes, and it's well documented that everybody was paying very close attention.None of these issues are coming out of nowhere, or are being snuck in at the last moment. They've been discussed *at length.*Whether you agree with the President's direction or not is one thing, but the issues have been discussed.Let me ask you this: Will you join me in my call for Rep. Wilson to apologize to the nation? Can we at least agree that his outburst was unbecoming to his office? Are you willing to say that publicly?Hope you're well. Hope they'll be an MYF reunion down the road and that we can catch up.

  6. I am one of your fans, Eric. Although I am a retired emergency physician (UTMB, Galveston, 1965) living in Pasadena, CA, I do get to Dallas from time to time to see the grandkids. I agree we should ask for an apology from Rep. Wilson, but I also urge all of us to listen to the voice of Wendell Potter, a voice for repair and healing. If you did not see Bill Moyers when he interviewed former CIGNA VP Wendell Potter, I recommend it as a "must be seen" item. Potter, a quiet spoken Tennesseean who is a self-proclaimed capitalist speaks out, driven by compassion and by his conscience. It is one of the most powerful arguments for health insurance reform I have seen. I think those who read your blog would not be able to stop watching if they started. The link:http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07312009/watch.html

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