Honor amongst thieves. It’s a great literary concept, explored in The Glass Key and Miller’s Crossing. In real life, actual thieves, when organized, can’t go to the police for adjudication. So the old, tribal concept of “honor” often serves.
It sure serves Congress. Mark Twain quipped that “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” Very funny — but you don’t need statistics. All you need is the Constitution and the latest issue of the Congressional Record.
Still, Congress has its honor. Even the lies of any particular politician are not supposed to be called out by another politician. Fellow pols are supposed to say “The Honorable So-and-So surely errs” — not “lies.”
And legislators are certainly not supposed to interrupt a president’s speech before Congress to shout “You lie!” Hear that, Mr. Wilson? How indecent of you! How . . . dishonorable.
But never once in mainstream reporting on Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” challenge did I hear anyone actually address the alleged fact of the challenge: did the president lie?
Well, I don’t like to use that word, but he was talking about health care reform. You could almost blindfold yourself and throw a dart at reform rhetoric and still hit a whopper with each throw.
That people were more disturbed by the outburst than the likelihood of lying says a whole lot about politics today.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.