Archive for Thursday, August 13, 2009

Town hall protests may backfire

August 13, 2009


Watching the muscular tactics being used in congressional town meetings by some opponents of health care reform, I keep thinking somebody should remind the Republican leaders who are reveling in the scenes about Bruce Alger.

Alger was the first Republican congressman elected from Texas in the modern era, winning a Dallas district in 1954. In 1960, just a few days before the presidential election, he was part of a crowd of several hundred people who surrounded Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, and his wife, Lady Bird, when they arrived for a luncheon at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.

Many of the demonstrators carried signs labeling the Texas senator as a “Judas.” Alger’s placard read: “LBJ Sold Out to Yankee Socialists.”

As I later wrote, the Johnsons “were engulfed by the crowd, and for more than half an hour, were reviled and jostled as they slowly made their way across the lobby. Johnson refused offers of police assistance, telling an aide that ‘if the time has come that I can’t walk with my lady across the lobby of the Adolphus Hotel, then I want to know it.’”

The backlash was instant and powerful. As conservative columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak later wrote in their book about Johnson, the scene in the Adolphus “outraged thousands of Texans and Southerners. Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, who had not campaigned for his party’s national ticket since 1944, telephoned Johnson that evening to offer his services.” The Johnson biographers concluded that while no one could prove the case, it is “a credible hypothesis” that the Adolphus incident swung Texas and perhaps other closely contested Southern states to the Democrats.

In 1964, when Johnson headed the Democratic ticket, he got even: His coattails swept Alger out of office.

I was reminded of this saga by what happened to Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the venerable Democrat who was shouted down last week by protesters at a health care town meeting in Romulus, Mich. Dingell, 83, has represented the area for 53 years, surviving all the political tides and a Republican effort to redistrict him out of office.

Nonetheless, he was called a “fraud” by a woman who said the plan he supported in committee would empty her wallet, and was booed and denounced by hundreds of others who filled the meeting hall.

Dingell said he hadn’t faced as angry a crowd since he voted for the civil rights bill in 1964, but said, “I’m a tough old bastard” and won’t waver.

Scenes like Romulus have filled cable news as Democrats across the country have been meeting their constituents during this August congressional recess. The cameras were watching as Sens. Arlen Specter and Claire McCaskill were harangued on Tuesday.

What doesn’t make the news is what the reaction is among the larger population of voters whose views will ultimately influence the fate of health care legislation.

I haven’t seen any polls taken since the demonstrations began, but an editorial in Tuesday’s Detroit Free Press said “the disrespect Dingell was shown in a state where he has made such a profound contribution was unforgivable.”

There have been many such editorials. And at least some Republicans are beginning to notice. Sarah Palin, who earlier had called the plans Obama is supporting “downright evil,” said in a Facebook post that “we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment.”

But not all the GOP leaders have gotten the message. Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents a heavily Jewish district in Florida, phoned me to complain that top House Republicans have not publicly repudiated Rush Limbaugh for his statements likening Obama’s health policies to those of the Nazis.

Much improvement is needed in the health care bills, but I think these angry opponents are playing with fire.


jmadison 8 years, 8 months ago

Pelosi and Hoyer forced Dingell from the Chairmanship of the House Energy committee in favor of Cong. Waxman from Beverly Hills. Cap and trade legislation soon followed, along with the most likely version of the healthcare altering bill. Broder has been inside the Beltway too long to write insightful articles.

MeAndFannieLou 8 years, 8 months ago

The Bush-policy protesters were rounded up into "Free Speech Zones" where they could be happily ignored, remember? I'll bet you wouldn't like it much if this administration did that to the town-hall terrorists.

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

I heard that NBC & CNN are going out of business, since FOX news is the only REAL source for fair and balanced journalism.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 8 months ago

Wasn't a Dingell staffer carrying a photo of the O'dude with a Hitler moustache at a town meeting?

BrianR 8 years, 8 months ago

Tom Shewmon (right_thinker) says… "Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.”

Yeah, in much the same way you doubted GWB, eh?

jaywalker 8 years, 8 months ago

"Republicans have not publicly repudiated Rush Limbaugh for his statements likening Obama’s health policies to those of the Nazis."

Perhaps that's because he hasn't. From what I've heard Limbaugh said the logo for Obamacare was reminiscent of a swastika, but I haven't heard anything about him saying the 'health policies' were the same.
I did hear him say yesterday that "Pelosi started all this Nazi stuff", though. Made me laugh. Can't stand Pelosi and I think she's Problem Numero Uno for the President right now, nor do I care "who started it", as if the $400 million dollar man is justified because some other moron was the first. What is this? Pre-school?!! It's pathetic and digusting, and both sides of the aisle have stooped to that level. But I do know Limbaugh said "Obama, like Hitler, prefers to rule by dictate and, like Hitler, rarely meets with his cabinet, declaring he will rule by the will of the people."

Ladies and gentlemen, we have GOT to do better. Fear mongering from both sides, shouting each other down. Where'd our country go?

Adrienne Sanders 8 years, 8 months ago

Don't you think there's a difference between "dissent" and preventing any possible discussion of how to improve health care? You don't have to agree, but IMO it's very UNpatriotic to simply deny others their right to speak up instead of trying to make a case for other options.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Rachel Maddow?

Get real.

No literally. Try a real news report."

As has been pointed out, Maddow factually and accurately makes her case.

You? Not so much. MSNBC is every bit as credible as any other mainstream media outlet, including Fox (moreso, in my opinion).

"You want incidents? I've got 8 years worth of incidents that prove that yes, people do things to demonstrate their opposition to the policies of their leaders that are repulsive."

And they are...where?

"Get some backbone, we used to tar and feather socialists in this country."

So you're saying we should repeal social security and medicaid?

You haven't really thought this through, have you?

pace 8 years, 8 months ago

One of the republican spokespersons in discussion about the guy who brought a loaded gun to an Obama meeting was asked if it was appropriate. She said he had a legal right to the gun. The thuggery arm of the republican arm are the new Repulsians.

jaywalker 8 years, 8 months ago


Thanks for the Rush quote comparing "policies", hadn't heard that one. Ya know, I thought he was bad during the Clinton years but this is definitely worse and we're just getting started.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"“And they are…where?”

google “zombietime hall of shame”

“So you're saying we should repeal social security and medicaid?”

What is the unfunded liability currently on Social Security, another brilliant democrat plan to fix everything, you know, make all the hard stuff in life really easy?"

Hey, nice non-answer. Should we repeal social security and medicaid?

I'd like republicans to answer.

TacoBob 8 years, 8 months ago


Check out the interview with Chris Matthews and the person with the gun.

Smackdown, you decide who.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Wait, you're jimmyjms the guy who is lying about keeping your private insurance."

You're confused, friend. Neither of those quotes are mine.

Being that you can't even keep posters on rinky-dink local blog straight, why should anyone put any stock in anything you have to say?

jonas_opines 8 years, 8 months ago

Sensing a presence. . . I've not felt in some time.

/vader breathing

Flap Doodle 8 years, 8 months ago

Survey says:

“Nearly eight-in-ten say they heard a lot (49%) or a little (29%) about the at-times angry community meetings. By a 58% to 43% margin, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they heard a lot about the protests over health care at town hall meetings. Of those who had heard at least a little about the meetings, 61% say they think the way people have been protesting is appropriate; 34% say they see the protests as inappropriate. Not surprisingly, there is a large partisan divide: 80% of Republicans see the protests as appropriate, compared with 40% of Democrats and 64% of independents. A majority of Democrats (56%) say the way people have been protesting is inappropriate, compared with 15% of Republicans and 30% of independents.”

pace 8 years, 8 months ago

The guy toting the gun was a Ron Paul advocate. At the fair the Ron Paul Liberty booth was displaying a tee shirt with the image of Jack Kennedy with the words "Kill the Fed" above it.

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

"Get some backbone, we used to tar and feather socialists in this country"

yeah, and we used to whip and beat to death slaves, are you wanting to bring that back too?

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

logicsound09 "I categorically disagree that it is considered “liberal” except by someone who truly believes Fox News is actually “fair and balanced” "

dude, Fox news IS fair and balanced, they even say they are fair and balanced on there news banners. So they have to be. they also say that Obama is running the country into the ground, and this comes on the heels of the best president in modern times. Bush took the country to the highest levels of financial freedom ever...and almost got rid of all those big bad pesky labor unions that were really harming our country by being unfair to the 'little guy' corporate executives (who were doing all of the hard work)...thank gawd we outsourced ALL of our labor to China, a country who understands our needs to buy cheap plastic crap. We can't make anything good here in the U.S. anyways, except maybe french fries. what to do now?

mickeyrat 8 years, 8 months ago

My favorite shrill rationalization: that our scary representatives want to "shut down debate on a subject."

No debate exists in these instances. A debate would pit the Democratic health care reform plan against the Republican health care reform plan, but since there is no such thing... no debate, unless the Republicans want to name the status quo/40 million plus uninsured "BushieCare."

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

can anyone guess who trollotrollotrollo is? or should I say, was before they were disappeardedededd?

Katara 8 years, 8 months ago

ardoardoardo (Anonymous) says…

I will take from your silence that you checked out zombietime. Hope you weren't at work!

Should we repeal social security and medicaid? Not for those who have already been taxed by you folks, no. Their contributions should be in a lock box.

Wait, you're jimmyjms the guy who is lying about keeping your private insurance. Hey, check back in on this thread, where your lies are being acknowledged as such:

“I guess I'll give you President Obama is lying with that quote.”… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That is the 2nd time you've mixed me up with jimmyjms.

BTW, it isn't good form to change people's posts. How about quoting the full thing next time?

"If you want to argue that many Americans who have substandard health insurance like it and want to keep it, then I guess I'll give you President Obama is lying with that quote."

And you still haven't been able to do that.

Katara 8 years, 8 months ago

puddleglum...We can't make anything good here in the U.S. anyways, except maybe french fries. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Those are Freedom Fries™ to you, mister!!!!

Dan Edwards 8 years, 8 months ago

LMAO Freedom Fries... what utter BS that was.

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

I GUESS WE CAN ALSO MAKE FAIR AND BALANCED AND INTENSELY INSIGHTFUL NEWS CHANNELS, like say foxnews for instance. They are the only ones out there telling the truth-to the best of their opinions.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Jimmyjms: “Um, how do you figure. It's in both bills.”

"That's a lie"

From Politifact (nonpartisan):

"Barack Obama defended his health care plan during a debate in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 7, 2008. His opponents have attacked his plan as "government-run" health care.

"No. 1, let me just repeat, if you've got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it," Obama said. "All I'm going to do is help you to lower the premiums on it. You'll still have choice of doctor."

Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here. He advocates a program that seeks to build on the current system, rather than dismantling it and starting over.

It remains to be seen whether Obama's plan will actually be able to achieve the cost savings it promises for the health care system. But people who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama's plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True."

"At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Aug. 11, 2009, President Barack Obama repeated a line he's used many times in describing his health care proposal: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."

On one level, Obama is correct. His plan seeks to build on the system we have now, where most people get health insurance through their employers. The plan also aims to cover the uninsured and reduce costs for everyone. Back during the campaign, we rated a similar statement True, based on the fact that his plan does seek to build on the existing system, where roughly three-quarters of Americans get health insurance through work.

Now, close to a year later, we finally have detailed bills to examine. They closely mirror what Obama promised during the campaign."

quik 8 years, 8 months ago

I don't think that most of the people going to these town halls are there to listen to their rep's thoughts. They are there to let them know they're pissed that they tried to ram this radical bill through before anyone noticed. I can't see how Obama's not willing to take a step back and listen. His ego will not seem to let him slow it down and his speeches are not stopping the slide. It seems like we've reached the point where Obama's ego is writing checks his rhetoric can't cash. Somebody needs to convince him to change direction.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Sorry, The President has enslaved my children to the Chinese already."

Yeah, that started under Obama, right?

Don't you get tired of looking like an uniformed, mistaken boob all of the time?

Back to Fox, brainiac.

staff04 8 years, 8 months ago

"Yeah, that one's a lie too."

Explain. You've said it twice. Back it up or crawl back into your hole.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 8 months ago

I (heart) staffie when he gets all imperious & stuff.

staff04 8 years, 8 months ago

Or if snap wants to explain Kevin's statement, he can feel free as well.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Not defending it, not a republican, haven't read it, but here is…"

Very impressive.

I thought this guy had groen-stink all over it.

How long will you be around this time, KG?

staff04 8 years, 8 months ago

That's not at all how the private insurance exchange, which you are erroneously labeling the public system, would work.

If your company's plan doesn't meet the minimum federal coverage standard to participate in the exchange, then you can keep your plan and not participate in the insurance exchange or you can choose to participate in the exchange and choose from any private plan that is a part of the exchange. Operative word in both scenarios: choose.

The house bill DOES allow your employer to participate in the insurance exchange, in which case, if your plan qualifies for the exchange, you may choose to keep it.

As for the beer vs healthcare plan, you're right. Those people would lose the choice to dump all of their ER costs on the rest of us, which is what happens when people can't/don't pay medical bills.

Now Kevin, we all know how much you enjoy parsing words, so you can go on and be happy and fap away at your joy with having proven that the president is a liar. If you miss the very obvious implication that the president is talking about people who have health insurance, well...sorry that you choose to be that kind of intellectually bankrupt person.

Be a part of the solution, Kevin.

Katara 8 years, 8 months ago

ardoardoardo (Anonymous) says…

“So, you're (sic) company is going to dump you into the public system automatically? Really?”

My employer is the State of Kansas. If they hit a budget shortfall, they will toss BCBS. That's what “My Are” company will do. (Is English your first language?) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mr. State Employee, why are you hanging out on a local newspaper forum instead of doing your job? Why are you wasting our tax dollars?

The State of Kansas had a budget shortfall for quite some time. Do you still have your BCBS? If you premise is correct, you would have already lost your health insurance long ago.

Oh, and yes, I would like it in comic book form next time. Thanks for offering that option. Isn't it nice to have a variety of options?

staff04 8 years, 8 months ago

ardo, if I have a health insurance policy that I like, will I or will I not be allowed to choose to keep it should the insurance exchange go into effect?

Kirk Larson 8 years, 8 months ago

So, to clarify:


ardoardoardo (Anonymous) says…

Is a nutjob.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 8 months ago

Hold on Nancy-Tom. Obama hasn't finished his first term yet. It seems like the Regurgicans have better things to do beside showing their butts right now. They still have a party to try to save. America let the White House know how tired they were of the fear-mongering last November. When will they get that message?

Flap Doodle 8 years, 8 months ago

What could go wrong with Democratic members of Congress using union thugs to beat protesters or using their own staff members as false-flag protesters to display large photos of the Pres with a Hitler mustache added or getting a friend who is still in grad school to pose as a medical doctor and ask a softball questions? What indeed?

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 8 months ago

The right wing-nuts would only be more confused if they had other choices besides Faux Noise. Most of them can't think for themselves and rely on Limbaugh to tell them what to think.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

the so-called backfire is a jetpropulsion for the anti-socialist, anti-government control, pro liberty individuals.

It is not a group movement. It is not a partisan movement. It is about freedom, and self-determination, and it is organic. The sleeping giant comprised of the diverse conglomeration of hard working and ambitious Americans who prize their liberty has awakened to oppose the oppressive socialist agenda of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid administration.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Mr. Kealing, doesn't beobachter's 8:11 post violate user policy?"

Geez, whine much, little man?

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