By Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist
One fact is being overlooked in the furor over Joe Wilson's despicable "You lie" charge hurled against President Barack Obama Wednesday night.
Obama also called people liars.
And the fact that he did that undercuts, to a degree, his call and the call of others to participate in civil discussion regarding the health care reform debate.
During his combative speech to Congress, the president lamented charges from critics that his plan would create panels of bureaucrats to kill off old people -- the so-called "death panels" popularized by Sarah Palin.
"It is a lie, plain and simple," Obama said.
The president was criticizing members of Congress who have given credence to the idea of death panels. But Obama didn't single out any member of Congress for attack.
Wilson, the South Carolina Republican, did exactly that with his outburst, making it clear who he thought was not telling the truth on whether illegal immigrants would get health care under the president's bill: "You lie" aimed at Obama.
On Thursday, Republicans and Democrats alike were properly pointing out that Wilson had shown no respect for the Office of the President -- and thus, the people of America.
But Obama has to be careful, too, in showing respect to the people he disagrees with. By saying his opponents are liars, the president risks going down a slippery slope that could result in more unfortunate outbursts in the future.