Inside the Beltway, things are slow. Staffers and lobbyists are working on their golf games. Congressional staffers are catching up with old friends. Yet the Obama administration and liberal Members of Congress have been woken up from their sleepy August recess by the loud voices of angry voters — the Town Hall Patriots.
These citizens should be congratulated as the first line of defense against Obamacare. They have taken to the town halls to argue, yell and demonstrate against President Obama’s big government takeover of private health care. Thankfully, these Patriots may have saved America from a European-style heath-care system with rationing and declining levels of care.
Meanwhile, the left will continue to push for Obamacare by calling protesters “un-American,” collecting names of dissenters and canceling town hall meetings to dodge voters.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wrote in USA Today that dissenters are acting “un-American.” Pelosi and Hoyer seem angry that voters are raising their voices and they wrote that “drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.” The implication is that all of the protesters who dare to get angry and yell about the biggest federal takeover of health care in our lifetime are not patriotic.
The opposite is true. The protesters are true patriots and Pelosi and Hoyer should be ashamed of themselves for denigrating Americans who are exercising their First Amendment rights to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Pelosi and Hoyer wrote, “[I]t is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue.” Calling the effort to defeat a massive expansion of the federal government an “ugly campaign” is over the line. Constituents want to ask pointed questions about Obamacare and they are angry. The two highest ranking members of the House of Representatives shouldn’t be attacking opposition voices.
Keep it up, Town Hall Patriots. You’re serving as effective agents of change.
Members Refuse to Meet Constituents
Some liberal Members of Congress aren’t even trying to defend their position on health care. Instead they’re dodging town halls or yelling back at voters. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) had a contentious town hall in her district with about 1,500 angry attendees. Her solution was to cancel all future town halls and set up conference calls with constituents to avoid tough questions. Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) was greeted with boos, heckles and one protester who yelled “you are trampling on our Constitution.” Some politicians are shocked when they show up at a town hall and the constituents don’t merely sit quietly and listen to talking points.
Other members are ducking. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) didn’t schedule any town halls. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) went in a different direction. His alternative to canceling town hall meetings was to yell back, make fun of the Town Hall Patriots and ridicule any voter who had the audacity to interrupt him. The voters are getting under the skin of these elected officials who really want to support Obamacare, yet fear the electoral consequences.
The Enemies List
The White House is pitching in to fight the Patriots. It had set up a dissenter e-mail tip line (firstname.lastname@example.org), to collect information about Americans who dare to oppose Obamacare. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote a letter to the administration complaining about the enemies. Issa argued that the “White House was asking neighbors to inform on neighbors in a government-led data collection effort.” The White House has shut down that controversial email data collection center and shifted information gathering on dissent to a White House “Reality Check” website.
Robert Novak, Rest in Peace
Conservative columnist Robert Novak passed away last week and I wanted to share a story about him. I met Novak in an elevator during my first internship in Washington, and it was one of the highlights of my internship. I jumped in an elevator with Novak and another intern. I knew he was “THE Bob Novak” — the guy I saw on TV all the time — and I was nervous to be in the presence of one of the elite columnists and famous political pundit.
Novak looked at me and the other intern and asked us, “What are you hearing guys?” I didn’t have anything to say that time, but he’d made a point of asking. The guy never missed an opportunity to dig out a story, and he knew that even lowly interns are in the room when decisions are made or gossip is shared. On that day we had nothing for him, but I will never forget that Bob Novak asked me for information for an angle on a story