Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Dem Disaster in Town Halls, This Time it's Tampa

Tampa's Town Hall was evidently an attempt to make by Democrats to have a little Schadenfreude Theater that backfires on closer examination. Accounts of this event on left blogs, protesters at the town hall were crazed radicals employing violent tactics sort of like I don't know, maybe Weather Underground. Here is the first video news report of the event, early on Rep. Kathy Castor says,
"It is not lost on me how badly the Health Insurance Industry and Big Drug Companies do not want health reform to happen. They will stop at nothing over the next few months to derail our needed health insurance reform and our health care reforms."
Immediately after that a woman describes waiting for hours to get in the building while others were allowed in the back. She says she has been told over and over you can't come in and had the door slammed in her face. The reporter concludes the piece by stating that he doesn't know whether it is true or not that some were allowed in and others weren't. He then notes the passion in those who were shut out and that they are not going to leave. They just want to be heard one way or another. Here is the clip:

Tampa Bay Online has a report that describes the problems at the event as follows:
The problems began when a crowd of around 500, many of them recruited to attend by interest groups both for and against the proposal, sought to enter the meeting room. The room, in the offices of the Hillsborough County Children's Board on East Palm Avenue, has a capacity of only about 250.

If you watch the following clip, you will see there does appear to be a group who are there to cheer Rep. Castor. There is a woman with a hair clip who stands with a camera who begins to cheer and applaud when Castor makes a rather vague statement about health insurance hurting seniors and draining families etc. When things become "violent" however, Castor starts to speak and those who were not allowed in the room began to shout in protest and perhaps a few try to make their way through the open door. A woman is shown shouting rather frantically and after watching it a few times, it appears her husband is one who tried to get in the door and is being pushed back out. She shouts that her husband has stage four cancer and a colostomy and that whoever is pushing him needs to stop. She is herded back out along with the rest and some large gentlemen shut the doors.

Castor ends up being escorted from the room but the events leading up to that are not shown. This clip has some very choppy editing and it is never clear what leads to shouts of protest or even the order of events. I have no doubt that those who had town halls planned for this week were going to make a concerted effort to see to it that there was some support present rather than have a rerun of the PR fiascoes from the weekend. I would not be at all surprised if these supporters were guaranteed access to the event especially when over 1000 people showed up hours in advance to get a spot.

Here's where there is absolutely no excuse for the crazed theater these town halls have become. Clearly everyone is going to be affected by a major health care reform. Planning an event where most of the people are not able to get in the room is pathetic. If the planning for these events gives us any sense of what is to come in a government run health care, watch out. Of course they can't manage a Cash for Clunkers program but a meeting with constituents over major health care reform? Puleeze, why in the world would any of those who chose to attend and make their voices heard feel any comfort that the handling of their health care wouldn't end up a fiasco as well.

Dems need to wake up to the harsh reality they are losing the war on health care. Reforms are needed but rather than hash out a bill that addresses all aspects of reform, Democrats opted to leave out those aspects that hurt their major contributors. Ideological blindess prevents them from seeing Americans don't want more government in health care, they just don't. It's hard to believe that the only means to provide stiffer competition to insurance companies is for the government to get in there and become a player themselves. It defies credulity and no one is buying it. They take the message of reform to the public in a 24/7 sales pitch without a bill to sell. The President makes the same weak sales pitch he used to sell a trillion dollar stimulus that isn't stimulating and is surprised when the people don't fall for it a second time. Reform is needed but the only chance Democrats have of passing their signature legislation if they stop playing games, start listening to constituents concerns and try to manage to throw a little honesty in the pot for good measure.
UPDATE: Moderate in the Middle has a first hand account of the Tampa meeting. Here's an interesting note:
5:55 PM Doors opened Ooops… first three rows of seating ALREADY filled with pro-government Healthcare pro-Obama supporters. Also, signs posted in support of Govt Healthcare. Chant of “Not Fair” fill the lobby. Lots of anger.
5:56 PM First public attendees, there since 3:30PM are angered, but try to enter. Until one tries to bring in an anti-government healthcare sign. Blocked at door by individuals apparently in charge of organization. (More about them later) CHANTS, verbal outrage voiced by the crowd of signed-in citizens. Now numbering more than 200.

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