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Pundits & Editorials

On Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst, the left bemoans the decline of civility, while the Washington Times says Obama is lucky he avoided a duel.

• "Rep. Joe Wilson's first sin was heckling President Obama in the middle of his speech on health care reform to a joint session of Congress last week," argued Monica Crowley. "Mr. Wilson's second sin was being right."

• "When members of the House voted Tuesday to rebuke" Wilson "for the insult he shouted at President Obama during his address last week, they may have thought they were drawing a line that would halt the spread of the town hall/tea party ethos across the country," Tim Rutten observes. "Think again."


Maureen Dowd calls the uproar over Wilson's remarks last week "a ratification of an institution that has relied on strict codes of conduct for two centuries to prevent a breakdown of order."

• "Yesterday's rebuke [of Wilson] ignores the history of the House floor, which long has been a rancorous place, particularly in the 19th century before the Civil War," the Washington Times contends. "In those days, brawls were not unheard of and members even challenged one another to duels outside."

• "There are myriad ways for a congressman to voice objection to the president's ideas or his colleagues' proposals. But dueling has been out of style for quite some time, even in South Carolina," Kathleen Parker maintains. "If our will to self-govern is to prevail, then incivility will have to become equally unfashionable."


Markos Moulitsas credits the Democratic netroots for its rapid response to Wilson's outburst: "By the end of the weekend, Wilson's outrage -- whether manufactured or genuine -- had cost him over half a million dollars per word."

• "There are few things in politics more annoying than the right's utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word 'freedom' that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up for human liberty, the noblest cause of them all," complains Thomas Frank. "Equally annoying is the silence of Democratic Party leaders on the subject."

Ruth Marcus highlights the skepticism of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., about the "Gang of Six" Senate Finance Committee plan.

• Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., defends the Senate Finance Committee plan in the Wall Street Journal.


Harold Meyerson grades outgoing AFL-CIO President John Sweeney's tenure, pointing out his failure to slow the shrinkage of organized labor but crediting him for turning the union into a political powerhouse.

Thomas Friedman bemoans the lackluster state of the American solar panel market.

Michael Gerson worries about the state of American marriage and the rise of cohabitation as an alternative to nuptials.

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