We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. There’s a new tone in the debate, and it’s ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they haven’t looked like in years, and that is: desperate.Mark Steyn:
DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTI… No, wait, that bumper sticker expired January 20th.Democratic National Committee:
Actor: The vast right-wing conspiracy (or just some guy from Connecticut)Robert L. Borosage:
Role: Coordinating assaults on helpless Democrat[ic] Representatives' townhall meetings by mobilizing firebreathing, disruptive lunatics.
Their tactic this August is clear. Run Astroturf campaigns and mobilize the zealots to disrupt congressional town hall meetings, spew anger and invective against the "government takeover" of health care that will "kill your grandmother." Intimidate legislators, cow decent citizens, sow fear and confusion. Legislators learn that if they vote to disembowel reform they'll be amply rewarded with campaign contributions. If they vote to support it, they'll face the fury of the wingnuts and the Astroturf activists.Mickey Kaus:
If an "astroturfing" campaign gets real people to show up at events stating their real views, isn't it ... community organizing?Jennifer Rubin:
This is a far cry from the White House spin that August was going to be the time for voters to exact revenge on those mean Blue Dogs and Republicans who were standing in the way of nationalized health care. Now the Democrats are reduced to accusing their constituents of being puppets of insurance companies (or is it of the RNC?).Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
Actor: The Democratic PartyPeggy Noonan:
Role: Compassionately taking over the nation's health-care system, improving the quality of care, lowering costs, not rationing, not adding to the federal deficit, not raising taxes, saving the planet, punishing villains, tracking disseminators of untruths, and valiantly resisting (or ignoring) all other actors.
What has been most unsettling is not the congressmen’s surprise but a hard new tone that emerged this week. The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town hall meetings weren’t authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss -- loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don’t.Dana Loesch:
Angry voter at Philadelphia town hall meeting:
Medicaid is broke. Medicare is broke. Social Security is broke, and you want us to believe that a government that can't even run a Cash-for-Clunkers program is going to run one-seventh of our U.S. economy? No, sir! No!Robert L. Borosage:
The opposition -- well financed by the insurance and drug companies and by the rabid right -- is mobilizing now to stop reform. Republicans believe that they can replay 1994 when the defeat of Clinton's health care plan (and the fight over NAFTA) led to the stunning elections that resulted in the Gingrich congress. The insurance and drug companies have sought to dilute reform on the inside while helping to fund front groups trying to torpedo it on the outside.Guy Benson:
Actor: Private health-insurance companiesService Employees Union International (SEIU):
Role: Immoral, carpet-bombing villains (who, thankfully, still contributed big money to Obama, Pelosi, et al).
Mary Katherine Ham:
Last night, as reports began to emerge of unrest at two big health care town halls in Tampa and St. Louis, a man on Twitter claiming to work with SEIU, claimed a handful of arrests in St. Louis had been Obamacare critics, and they'd been arrested for assaulting SEIU members. His report was dutifully repeated by liberals looking to paint the violence as caused by critics of the administration.Video taken by Missourah outside the Russ Carnahan (D-MO) town hall in St. Louis:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
A spokesman for the SEIU, which represents about 1 million health care workers, said the appearance of union members at Carnahan's town hall meeting was not in response to protests mounted by opponents of Obama's health care plan.Sam Stein:
The nation's largest federation of labor organizations has promised to directly engage with boisterous conservative protesters at Democratic town halls during the August recess.Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO):
In a memo sent out on Thursday, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney outlined the blueprint for how the union conglomerate would step up recess activities on health care reform and other topics pertinent to the labor community. The document makes clear that Obama allies view the town hall forums as ground zero of the health care debate.
This is my first-person account of what I saw at the the town hall meeting ... As [Carnahan] spoke the crowd of union supporters continually interrupted him with their applause. A few of the tea party protesters left during this staged show by Carnahan and his cronies. After Carnahan was through speaking he said he was going to take a few questions. His staffers then pulled out a few questions and read them to him from their index cards. They said they had collected the cards beforehand, but the tea party taxpayers did not even know they were only taking questions that were written down. It was a total dog and pony show.White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina to Senate Democrats:
After the event, things got really out of control. The SEIU members were looking for trouble.
If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard.Iowahawk:
Enough is enough. It's time for us to get out our pitchforks and tell the Outside-the-Beltway gang that we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more. We are the little guy, the junior senator from some godforsaken Nebraskansaw, just looking to make that subcommittee with the big contributor action. That fresh young regulatory agency head who only wants to test that bank nationalization idea from her Harvard term paper. We are the people who get up every day, work hard, and play inside the rules. Most of the time. And if one of us accidentally plays outside one of those rules, then, by golly, the rest of us will make sure to modify that rule so he's still playing inside the rules. And we're tired of getting pushed around the town hall by the likes of you, Big Voter.Representative John Dingell (D-MI):
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
[The White House is] just helping us understand the fringe that is trying to mess up our meetings.Dana Loesch:
Actor: The American PublicPeggy Noonan:
Role: Deranged, right-wing radical, mobster, astroturfing, special interest pawns. And maybe Nazis, too. (This description may apply to 52 percent of voters).
Then came the Democratic Party charge that the people at the meetings were suspiciously well-dressed, in jackets and ties from Brooks Brothers. They must be Republican rent-a-mobs.Patients First:
Have you seen the teabaggers in action during Rep. Lloyd Doggett's (D-TX) town hall on health care? These are standard right-wing tactics -- attack any kind of meaningful change in health care, or even any kind of meaningful discourse around it. They remind me of a gathering of Joe the Plumbers ... August will be littered with images of the Zombie Plumbers disrupting town hall meetings ...Bob Hope:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
These are nothing more than destructive efforts to interrupt a debate that we should have, and are having.Mark Steyn:
Decrying the snarling, angry protesters, liberal talk-show host Bill Press ... says that "Americans want serious discussion" on health care. If only we'd stuck to the President's August timetable and passed a gazillion-page health care reform entirely unread by the House of Representatives or the Senate (the world's greatest deliberative body) in nothing flat, we'd now have all the time in the world to sit around having a "serious discussion" and "real debate" on whatever it was we just did to one-sixth of the economy.Peggy Noonan:
What the town-hall meetings represent is a feeling of rebellion, an uprising against change they do not believe in. And the Democratic response has been stunningly crude and aggressive. It has been to attack.Gregg Levine:
[H]ere is what I am seeing in all the organized outrage and outrageous organizing; here’s what I am seeing in teabagging anti-care birthers: racists. Rabid and perhaps irretrievable racists ... a fear of other, an unwavering dislike, a complete inability to accept that we now have a black/bi-racial/African American president.Dana Loesch:
But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.David Boaz:
That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship.
Paul Krugman can’t understand why people would oppose government control of health care — or skyrocketing deficits, or a federal takeover of education, energy, and finance along with health care — unless they’re driven by racism.Scott Johnson:
Condemning these citizens as mobs, the Obama administration apparently seek to prepare the public for the cracking of heads we have seen by administration supporters at townhall events this week. While Obama supporters dispatched union thugs to act like brownshirts of yore, Obama's minions at the DNC released a statement yesterday announcing its "REACTION [sic] to the [purported] use of Nazi symbolism from the right wing." Among the alleged malefactors accused by the DNC of fomenting Nazism was House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, the House's only Jewish Republican ... We sought a response to the DNC statement from Rep. Cantor, but it turns out he could not be reached for comment. He was touring the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem at the same moment that the DNC was defaming him at home.Peggy Noonan:
But most damagingly to political civility, and even our political tradition, was the new White House email address to which citizens are asked to report instances of “disinformation” in the health-care debate: If you receive an email or see something on the Web about health-care reform that seems “fishy,” you can send it to email@example.com.Mark Steyn:
Reporting dissent is the highest form of patriotism!ReasonTV:
Actor: The InterwebsPresident Barack Obama:
Role: Obfuscation, deceit, and fear-spreading. (Please report such nefarious activity directly to the White House, post-haste).
Right now, doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that's out there. So if they're looking and you come in and you've got a bad sore throat or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, "You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out."Guy Benson:
Actor: DoctorsCharles Krauthammer:
Role: Greedy, selfish, profit-hounds who perform unneccessary surgeries on children and prescribe overpriced medication just to make an extra buck.
An authoritative Massachusetts Medical Society study found that five out of six doctors admitted they order tests, procedures and referrals -- amounting to about 25 percent of the total -- solely as protection from lawsuits. Defensive medicine, estimates the libertarian/conservative Pacific Research Institute, wastes more than $200 billion a year. Just half that sum could provide a $5,000 health insurance grant -- $20,000 for a family of four -- to the uninsured poor (U.S. citizens ineligible for other government health assistance).President Barack Obama:
What would the reaction be if a Republican President said this?Peggy Noonan:
All of this is unnecessarily and unhelpfully divisive and provocative. They are mocking and menacing concerned citizens. This only makes a hot situation hotter. Is this what the president wants? It couldn’t be. But then in an odd way he sometimes seems not to have fully absorbed the awesome stature of his office.