Two things you may know about President Obama's speech last night to a joint session of Congress.
One, he spoke about health care.
And two, Joe Wilson called him a liar.
You can read about that health-care/shmealth-care stuff elsewhere. This one is about Joe Wilson.
(Not the Joe Wilson who called President Bush a liar. That was the other Joe Wilson, married to Valerie Plame. This Joe Wilson is married to Roxanne Wilson. Completely different guy.)
Wilson is a conservative Republican congressman from South Carolina who, if memory serves, has only appeared in one of my columns, back in December 2001, when he won the special election in the state's Second District following the death of longtime GOP incumbent Floyd Spence. I haven't thought about him since. Until now. He is a reliably conservative Republican who, like his predecessor, is deeply involved in defense issues. He strongly supports U.S. presence in Iraq and is a leader in the fight for increases in pay and health benefits for members of the military, which includes all four of his sons.
His oldest son, Alan, is running for state Attorney General in 2010.
In 2008 Joe Wilson received a 92 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and a 10 percent from the Americans for Democratic Action. He is a tried and true conservative.
He has been accustomed to winning re-election handily in this mostly conservative district. But last year, he was held to just 54 percent of the vote against Rob Miller (D), an Iraq War veteran. Miller benefitted from a healthy campaign war chest as well as a huge turnout for Barack Obama among black voters, who represent a majority in four of the district's 10 counties.
Miller is back for a 2010 rematch. And CNN is reporting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says Miller has pulled in $200,000 in the wake of Wilson's "You lie!" outburst on the House floor.
As for Wilson and his campaign haul, new figures are not available, at least not since last night. The latest I saw had him with $284,000 in funds. But for awhile this morning, I was looking at his Twitter account, and the number of his followers was increasing by the second; at last check, it was up to 7,744 — some 1,000 more than it was about an hour earlier. (For the record, though he has apologized for his outburst, he has not Tweeted since Sept.7, where he wrote:
Happy Labor Day! Wonderful parade at Chapin, many people called out to oppose Obamacare which I assured them would be relayed tomorrow to DC
He's not the only South Carolina Republican who has had his share of controversy lately but, unlike Gov. Mark Sanford, he will be facing the voters again. He may very well find himself as a major Democratic target, as other Republican House members — such as Minnesota's Michele Bachmann — who made a name for themselves with a controversial remark. And he could become the rallying point for conservatives who distrust Obama and his health-care plan. New York Daily News reporter Alexandra Hazlett wrote this morning, "First, the GOP had Joe the Plumber, now it has Joe the Heckler."
And South Carolina now has another controversial Republican.