Rep. Joe Wilson on Healthcare and Afghanistan

-By Warner Todd Huston

Does Joe Wilson or any of his colleagues on the Hill care about the Constitution?

I participated in a conference call last Friday with Representative Joe Wilson (R, SC) who wanted to rally the troops against Pelosi’s healthcare bill. He also talked of Afghanistan, as well. But I think he made a revealing comment about the Constitution that distresses me.

Rep. Wilson started off his comments with his condolences to the families of the victims of the criminal actions at Fort Hood which had only recently happened at the time. “As a 21-year veteran of the military myself with three sons in the Army, one in the Navy, and a nephew in the Air Force, I truly do have a deep sympathy for the families at Fort Hood,” Wilson said.

Wilson then went into the issues of the day and said he was pleased to see the “clean sweep” that Republicans in Virginia saw in the governor’s race there.

This has also been an extraordinary week with the elections on Tuesday in the state of my ancestors, Virginia. I’m so grateful for the Commonwealth that there was a clean sweep and as it pointed out to me the Republican clean sweep there was for limited government and extending freedom is in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson.

Wilson also remarked that Jon Corzine, the incumbent Dem. gov. in New Jersey, had some “pretty strong things to say about me” and was happy that he lost his re-election bid.

Since the latest healthcare bill was barely passed by the House on Saturday and much of what Wilson had to say on Friday about that bill is moot, I won’t spend much time here on that part of the conversation. But here are a few quick highlights.

Wilson announced his support for the GOP healthcare bill, HR3400. He said it was “inspiring” to see the “tens of thousands of people” that turned out in Washington with “less than a week’s notice” to protest Pelosi’s Congress that Friday. He also said that Pelosi and the Democrats weren’t really interested in healthcare itself, only in the “take over by government” that would increase their power and “grow government beyond imagination.”

Jim Hoft of GatewayPundit asked about Democrat Alan Grayson’s outrageous behavior.

Q: Congressman, this is Jim Hoft in St. Louis, Missouri, Gateway Pundit Blog. I had a quick question for you. I’m wondering if you have any comments on the recent remarks by Congressman Alan Grayson?

Wilson: Well I really don’t. I think Congressman Grayson truly speaks for himself and people will monitor and listen to what he says. I think it speaks for itself. I believe many of his comments are truly outrageous, insulting, and unlike, say, the particular comment I made, my oldest son identified that, “I know what you did it was your town hall moment.” On the other hand, the outrageous statements, inappropriate statements by Representative Grayson actually are storyboards and so they were actually thought out. And, so I would say there is a difference between a town hall moment and premeditated is that: It’s premeditated.

I asked a few questions, myself.

Q:Has anyone in the Republican caucus taken the time to determine the Constitutionality of this healthcare bill, especially the forced insurance aspect of it?

Wilson: That has come up and of course the proper venue would be through litigation. Of course, you want us to be truly focused on the legislation itself, but that is very legitimate for there to be litigation about the Constitutionality, the different requirements of individual purchase. It would seem to me to use an analogy of auto insurance that’s not analogous at all. Because to drive you have to drive on public streets but what they’re requiring (on healthcare) is a mandate on individuals who are breathing! There’s a difference between public streets and simple existence.

Then I followed up with a question on Afghanistan.

O: Is there a mechanism that Congress can use to go about to urge the president to take up General McChrystal’s troop requests because he (Obama) is dithering as you’ve said?

Wilson: We’ll be presenting petitions. I want to commend even the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, sent a letter early on to the president… and it’s really startling what’s going on here in that the president, when he was running for president, even in Berlin, indicated how important it was that we succeed in Afghanistan. So, throughout the campaign of course he was trying to belittle efforts that have been successful in Iraq by indicating that that was a diversion from efforts in Afghanistan when, of course, Osama bin Laden said that there was two fronts in the global war on terrorism, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well, now in the course of his acceptance speech he was very clear that to protect American families we had to be successful in Afghanistan. And then on March the 27th when he appointed General Stanley McChrystal and his team and also Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (Ambassador to Iraq), two excellent people… just the president’s words themselves would lead you to believe that he was prepared to act forthwith in support of our military commanders and that’s what we should be doing.

Wilson went on to mention that comparing the failed efforts of the Soviet Union to conquer Afghanistan to our efforts there is illegitimate. We aren’t trying to take over the region, Wilson said. We are trying to help the Afghans build a civil society. He mentioned that when we arrived in Afghanistan only one paved road of 30 kilometers in length existed but now there are nearly 9,000 kilometers of paved road in the country. The US is rebuilding the country for Afghans not trying to rule it as the Soviets tried to do.

Wilson is very friendly to the New Media and I would like to thank him for that. But, I have to make a remark about his answer to my first question about healthcare. When I asked if he and his fellow Congressmen were considering the Constitutionality of Obamacare, he replied, “of course the proper venue would be through litigation. Of course, you want us to be truly focused on the legislation itself, but that is very legitimate for there to be litigation about the Constitutionality.”

I have to disagree to a small extent. The “proper venue” is not merely “litigation.” The courts are not the only ones that properly or exclusively have a role in determining the Constitutionality of legislation. Congress also has a responsibility to make sure that what they present for consideration is actually legally and Constitutionally sound.

I am afraid that Congress has completely abdicated to the courts its proper role to assure what it does is Constitutionally sound. Too many Congressmen seem to imagine that they should just be allowed to craft legislation on any old thing they feel like trying to force on the nation regardless of whether it is Constitutional or not. These Congressmen just write up whatever crazy legislation they want to write and then shrug their shoulders and hope the courts will sort it all out in the aftermath.

This is the huge mistake that the Bush administration made with the odious McCain-Feingold bill. Bush just assumed that the courts would strike it down as obviously un-Constitutional and signed the thing imagining that the courts would just eliminate it later. But the court failed to act properly and now we are saddled with this mess.

In the case of McCain-Feingold no one in Congress cared much to try and determine if it was Constitutional or not beforehand. In fact, it seems as if no one at all in Congress seems much interested in the law of the land anymore. Sadly, Congressman Wilson seemed to echo this sentiment by dismissing my question of the Constitutionality of healthcare as something merely to be addressed by “litigation.”

Certainly litigation has a necessary and important role in determining the Constitutionality of the laws that Congress passes. But Congress also has the responsibility to make sure that what they do satisfies the restrictions of the Constitution before they even lay pen to paper in the legislation process.

If asked specifically, I am sure Congressman Wilson would agree with me on all of this and I have to caution that I do not think that Wilson does not care about the Constitution. But his offhanded reply about “litigation” is evidence that the whole question of the Constitutionality of their work in Congress is not an issue that immediately comes to a Congressman’s mind these days. That the Congressional whole body is more interested in “getting things done” than in assuring that what they get done is in accordance with the supreme law of the land is a tragedy as well as an outrage.

And, as I had imagined, Congressman Wilson does, indeed, agree with my central point here. I sent a note to Wilson’s office and his communications director replied. “Congressman Wilson agrees that Congress has a responsibility to make sure that what they present for consideration is actually legally and Constitutionally sound. On the call I could see how it sounded like he was focused on litigation, but he is also concerned about the constitutionality of the health care takeover.”

Still, the fact that “litigation” so quickly came to mind immediately was a bit disturbing. If even Wilson has this thought first off the top of his head, imagine what others in Congress are thinking! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why we are in this mess in the first place.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as,,,,, Human Events Magazine,, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for

He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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