New Yorker Responds to Joe Wilson’s Shout with Pique
By Bernie Quigley
- for The Hill on 9/14/09
As Pundit Blog’s Charlie Law was first to point out, The Shout – Joe Wilson’s spontaneous live Tweet, “You Lie!” during President Obama’s speech last week, bore some déjà vu resemblance to another episode: “In 1856,” he wrote, “one of Wilson's predecessors in the House, Rep. Preston Brooks of Edgefield, S.C., thrashed Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane in the halls of the U.S. Senate, leaving Sen. Sumner permanently disabled.”
Then as now, New York responded. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd thought she heard the South Carolina Congressman calling Obama boy. It is all about race, she said, clenching the issue with her Pacman grasp of nuance. Plain and simple. Joe Wilson is a racist. You can tell because he is white, he was born in the South and one of his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Although probably more of my Yankee-reared and educated children’s ancestors fought for the North, unfortunately they all four would likewise fit the Dowd criteria for “racist” as they are all white, were born in the South and at least one of their ancestral kin fought on behalf of the South.
But Dowd sees here the spirit of Nathan Bedford Forest rising again . . . like those red necks always said, “The South will rise again.” And for informed, boots on the ground insight into the stealthy and insidious ways of the South, she calls on loyal Son of the South Don Fowler, a lifelong Democratic apparatchik most prominently associated with Vermonter Howard Dean and Connecticut’s Chris Dodd. “He said a state legislator not long ago tried to pass a bill to nullify any federal legislation with which South Carolinians didn’t agree,” reports Dowd.
Good to know. The Nation, most liberal of liberal political journals has been writing about this for years now and recently Trends Research Institute’s Gerald Celente (born in the Bronx) called this the most important trend of the new century. Apparently this is the first Dowd has heard about it.
There is without question some resemblance to the alienation that primarily opposed New York with “The state that fired the first shot of the Civil War . . .” (Dowd’s characterization) in the 1830s. But I don’t think it can any longer be seen as North against South. And in this round the rising voice approaching is not likely to be John C. Calhoun’s but the former governor of Alaska’s, who has already given Dowd & Co. advanced apoplexia.
But the difference between now and the1830s is this: Then, the New Yorkers were rising to industrial wealth and power unheard of and unimagined in the Western traditions while the South was languishing in the pre-industrial poverty of slavery and subsistence farming. Today, New York and its associated regions including California and New England are running deep deficits. They might even be considered welfare states. While most of the agricultural regions, South, West and Midwest, are flush with cash, running budget surpluses and advancing industry, particularly in the Southwest.
The other problem is this: The nullification legislation recently proposed in South Carolina that Fowler refers to does indeed parallel the nullification legislation advanced in South Carolina in the 1830s. But this time it didn’t start in South Carolina. This time it started in Vermont and New Hampshire.