Republicans in Congress have been quick to point to the sometimes-riotous town-hall forums of recent weeks as indication that Americans en masse believe the
Republicans in Congress have been quick to point to the sometimes-riotous town-hall forums of recent weeks as indication that Americans en masse believe the Democrats’ plans for health care reform to be atrocious. Indeed, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is claiming this morning that President Obama’s decision to address a joint session of Congress on the topic next week is “clearly a direct response to the outpouring of opposition this past month from the American people.”
While the other side wanted to dismiss these folks as an un-American fringe or political terrorists, the truth is that citizens across this nation do not want Washington taking over our health care system.
It’s a curious argument, if only because the thousands of people coming out to these events, while they represent larger crowds than lawmakers are accustomed to seeing, still make up a tiny fraction of the voting public. Political columnist E.J. Dionne tackles the issue in today’s Washington Post, arguing that the town halls have seemed much more raucous than most have actually been for the simple reason that outbursts about death panels and socialized medicine make for better TV than quiet discussions about health care policy. The media, Dionne says, are complicit.
“There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television’s point of view “boring”) encounters between elected representatives and their constituents,” Dionne writes, before pointing out what’s been ignored in the process.
Over the past week, I’ve spoken with Democratic House members, most from highly contested districts, about what happened in their town halls. None would deny polls showing that the health-reform cause lost ground last month, but little of the probing civility that characterized so many of their forums was ever seen on television.m[…]
The most disturbing account came from Rep. David Price of North Carolina, who spoke with a stringer for one of the television networks at a large town-hall meeting he held in Durham. The stringer said he was one of 10 people around the country assigned to watch such encounters. Price said he was told flatly: “Your meeting doesn’t get covered unless it blows up.” As it happens, the Durham audience was broadly sympathetic to reform efforts. No “news” there.
Dionne doesn’t offer any solutions to the timeless trouble of the major media outlets, being businesses, having to cater to the often mindless tastes of television viewers. But as a political strategy, Democrats might tap the logic of Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, who dismissed those enormous, high-profile protest rallies against the Iraq War by reasoning that more people didn’t march than did. The same, of course, can be said for the town halls.
Pentagon Shooter Exploited Gun-Show Loophole
John Patrick Bedell, who shot and wounded two police officers near the Pentagon earlier this month, bought at least one of his 9 mm guns at a Nevada gun show,
MA-Sen: 150 Conservative Bloggers Fan Out, Looking for Scandals
BOSTON -- The mysterious Election Journal blog, which first released the infamous 2008 video of two bumbling New Black Panther Party members waving nightsticks
MA-Sen: Brown Wins
BOSTON -- At 9:20, the first rumors of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race started to work around the room. A moment later, Doug Flutie
MA-Sen: 66 to 19
BOSTON -- That, via Alex Isenstadt and Josh Kraushaar, is the number that defined the Massachusetts Senate race more than anything else. From the primary
MA-Sen: A Text Message From Scott Brown
BOSTON -- Having signed up for Scott Brown’s text message service for election day, I just got this text: Are you about to have lunch? It’s a great time to
MA-Sen: Out-of-Staters for Brown
BOSTON -- A surprising discovery at yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester was just how many people had traveled into the state to assist, in whatever way,
MA-Sen Photos: ‘Paint the Town Red! Croakley’s Dead!’
Below are some photos of yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester, the rally that Brown held to counter-program the Obama rally in Boston. The crush of
Menendez, Lautenberg to Continue BP-Lockerbie Investigation
Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats, will continue to seek details about BP’s alleged involvement in the release last year of
Net Investors Bullish on Palin’s Prospects for Staying on Ticket
Just for fun, the Internet prediction Website Intrade has opened a contract on whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be withdrawn as McCain’s running mate.
No Experience Necessary
Gov. Sarah Palin’s a middle-class hockey mom, but does that really qualify her to be vice president?