Remember when we used to have town halls to discuss trivial matters? — Like how to get the neighbors off your lawn, or where to host the July 4th fireworks? Well, we’ve evolved since then… now, town halls are all about whether the government should allow Grandma to live. From yesterday’s meetings in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New Hampshire, it appears that public sentiment (or at least the sentiment of the old and jobless who can attend these midday town halls) is clear: We want Grandma to live! We’re not going to let Obama’s death panels take her!! Bring your socialist friends back to Russia!!! WE… ARE… AMERICA!!!!! (Thunderous applause, chants of “USA”, hootin’, hollerin’, waving of American flag… or, if wearing a patriotic-themed shirt, some saggy boob-shakin’)
Of course, Grandma was never in danger yesterday… unless she found herself in the middle of the angry mob. I was more afraid for Grandpa Specter (D-Penn), who turns 80 in February, and who hosted his second town hall in Lebanon, PA. Wearing a dark black suit (he had a death panel meeting in the afternoon), Specter gallantly stood a foot away from his constituents as they railed him about budget deficits, tort reform, and his flippy floppies. One particularly hostile man invoked God before making his dramatic exit. After an hour in front of that crowd, I half-hoped that a loony Russian socialist would euthanize ol’ Arlen right there, and put him out of his misery.
Given that the morning session in Pennsylvania was so fun, I had to tune in for Senator McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) town hall in Missouri. McCaskill one-upped Specter with some drama of her own: an African-American supporter with a sign was attacked, then escorted out of the room amidst cheers. McCaskill did her motherly best to shush the crowd, but her scolding led to even more disorder. Appealing to a higher power (“Remember, we had a prayer in the beginning!”), McCaskill still couldn’t prevent the boos, the interruptions, and the frequent appeals that she just “go home.” Perhaps the attendees simply wanted to have a good Christian hee-haw without Mom getting all huffy about healthcare reform.
While Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire was infinitely more civil (although someone did bring a gun), it all begs the question: Why the outrage? Do people really believe that Obama is going to put down Grandma? That the government wants to emulate the (gasp) old Soviet Union? Never mind that most Western Europe countries have universal healthcare… I suppose the fear that we’re turning into Britain (the redcoats!) no longer stokes a fire in most Americans.
Along with the crazies, I too, have legitimate concerns with a universal healthcare plan… But, as long as Grandma gets to live, I’m willing to listen.