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Wilson's Outdated Duel

Summation: People in positions of power and privilege have a duty to perform at a higher level. If not them, then who?

To settle the question -- did the president speak inaccurately when he said nothing in "our reform effort" would pay for illegal immigrants or abortion? -- the answer is, like H.R. 3200, not simple. What's true is that the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that nothing in H.R. 3200 precludes illegal immigrants from buying public insurance on the proposed Health Insurance Exchange. And, as fact-checking groups have confirmed, there's wiggle room in the bill whereby public subsidies could be used to purchase insurance that covers abortions.

The Senate Finance Committee is trying to iron out these wrinkles in its version of the bill, but wrinkles they are -- hardly cause for Wilson's emotional display. If one were inclined to give the president the benefit of the doubt, he was speaking of reform efforts, not a specific bill. In so doing, he created a political problem for himself because none of the bills thus far comes close to matching his rhetoric.

Meanwhile, there are myriad ways for a congressman to voice objection to the president's ideas or his colleagues' proposals. But dueling has been out of style for quite some time, even in South Carolina. If our will to self-govern is to prevail, then incivility will have to become equally unfashionable.

kathleenparker@washpost.com


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