Leonard Lopate, the eponymous host of a public radio show in New York, concluded our pre-State of the Union interview this afternoon by asking if I thought there would a “You lie!” moment in the House chamber tonight. Sure, anything could happen, I said. But if it does happen I want the president to respond.
Of course, Lopate was referring to this:
President Obama paused, pursed his lips and moved on after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) yelled “You lie!” at him during a speech on health care to a joint session of Congress. Obama was right to hold his tongue then. Not tonight. If it happens again tonight, the president must respond. And he must do so in a way that channels the deep anger of the American people over Washington gridlock. This wouldn’t be a partisan point. Remember what happened when Mitt Romney questioned the Republican loyalties of Jon Huntsman at a debate earlier this month?
JON HUNTSMAN:This nation is divided, David, because of attitudes like that. The American people are tired of the partisan division. They have had enough. There is no trust left among the American people in the institutions of power and among the American people and our elected officials.
Obama knows how to do this. He’s been doing it since he pushed his American Jobs Act during a joint session speech last September. So, if anyone in the GOP dares to go beyond the customary hissing and sitting-on-hands this speech inspires, Obama should give him or her or them a nationally televised knuckle-wrapping. The American people are tired of the nonsense and would appreciate a grown-up telling that person and his party in no uncertain terms to knock it off.