Thursday, September 10th, 2009...9:58 am

Who Is the Liar?

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“Who is the liar . . .?” queries the First Epistle of John, which came to mind last night during President Obama’s speech to both houses of Congress and to the nation, when it was interrupted by at one point by House Republican from South Carolina, Joe Wilson, who shouted quite audibly, “You lie!”

Ah, South Carolina, the cradle of Republican mendacity. Segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond’s covering up his having fathered a child with an underage black domestic in the family home. Governor Mark Sanford’s covering up his international adultery (at taxpayer expense).

And South Carolina Republicans of the Rovian persuasion famously smeared the presidential primary campaign of straight-talking Senator John McCain by using push polling phone calls that suggested McCain had fathered an illegitimateĀ child with a black woman. (Sounds like the Strom Thurmond story.) If a South Carolina Republican won’t join a truth teller, he’s gotta beat him.

I once visited Columbia, South Carolina, to present a paper at a conference hosted by University of South Carolina, and partook of the local color by visiting Maurice Bessinger’s Piggie Park, the home of a tart mustard-based barbecue. Along the top of the building a large sign read, “Jesus Christ Savior of the World Make Him Yours Today.” What I later learned was that Bessinger is a professional racist (not just the amateur on-again, off-again variety) and defender of the morality of slavery. Bessinger also has views on constitutional matters: “As I am lowering the federal flag on my properties and raising the state flag I’m also raising the Confederate flag as a companion flag, but in a subordinate position. The state flag is the flag that represents our highest sovereignty. The Confederate flag is to both remind people that Southerners wrote the Constitution and that Southerners continue to be its most loyal defenders, plus the Confederate flag is recognized as the universal symbol of resistance to centralized tyranny.”

At any rate, Bessinger seems not to partake of South Carolina Republican mendacity; just good ole South Carolina self-righteousness.

Given that there have been so many lies perpetrated by the Republicans during the healthcare debate (one hardly knows where to begin) and such bad faith on their part throughout, I ask again: Who is the liar?


  • I just tend to chalk it up to the latest in a long series of political outbursts from our friends, and fellow citizens, from S.C.. At least it did not turn into a Brooks v. Sumner caning on the floor of the House.

    You offer fair observations about of the flavor of S.C. politics and demeanor of some. In no way do I excuse the inappropriate and unprofessional conduct of the Congressman last evening yet I am a bit troubled. I note a lot of finger pointing and scolding from the left this morning, online and on the Social Media tubes. A same level of intensity was not present previously when similar incidents occurred with W. Bush or with President Clinton.

    A tempest in a tea pot perhaps?

  • The name of the article is who is the liar? You make mention of mr wilson, belittle Southerners and republicans. Point a righteous finger at southern politicians fathering illegitimate children as if they were the only ones to do so in the history of the nation But you make no mention as to the real question why Mr Wilson called the president a liar? Why not just call the article I hate southerners and republicans?

  • Mr. Frazz, I was born and raised south of the Mason-Dixon line to parents also born and raised south of the Mason-Dixon line, and until a year ago, lived most of my adult life in the Old Dominion.

    I think I know something about the South.

    While Republicans do not have a monopoly on mendacity, they seem in recent years to have typified “bullshit” as defined by Harry G. Frankfurt in his book, On Bullshit. Worse than lying, “bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant.”

  • Given the unfortunate politics of its owner, how was the “tart mustard-based barbeque” at Piggie Park?

  • Food, like art, knows no ideology. It was deeeeelicious. I like my BBQ the way I like my men . . .

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