Was Joe Wilson motivated by racism?

I guess we’ll see a lot more of this over the next 3 years, but I’m a little surprised that some people have been so quick to claim that Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” during Obama’s speech because Obama is black. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Maureen Dowd thinks so:

New York Times: Boy, Oh, Boy by Maureen Dowd

The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.


Other people have come out with columns, statements, and comments along these lines, but I think they’re missing the point. Joe Wilson might be a racist, he might not like black people, but I think it’s more likely that he just couldn’t contain himself during the address because he hates Mexicans.