The XX Factor

Since When Is It OK to Insult the President?

Hanna, here’s why I’m not cheering on Joe Wilson , the Heckler of the Moment, with you. It’s the sharpness of the insult he leveled at Obama, and the pattern that fits into. Suddenly, it is OK to insult the president by screaming about him giving a speech to school kids. It’s OK to invite him to speak at commencement but deny him an honorary degree. And now it’s OK for a member of Congress to yell “Lie!” at him in the middle of a speech to the joint sessions of Congress. These are all historical firsts, aren’t they? Why now? I’m not sure if the answer is mostly about the ranting of talk-radio culture, or this real moment of intensified partisan divide, or a lurking discomfort, in some kitchens out there, with having an African-American president. But the timing is suspicious.