August 2009

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I drove to Hagerstown, Md along with a friend of mine and his teenage son to attend a town hall meeting being hosted by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md) at Hagerstown Community College.  We left Brookeville at 11 and arrived shortly before noon for the event.

As we made our way towards the college we encountered many anti-Obamacare protesters and knew immediately we were in for quite a day.

At the entrance to the school  a man directing traffic informed us that the theater was full and said we could turn around if we wanted.  By the looks of it his advice was being largely ignored as car after car made the turn towards the theater parking lot.

The lot wasn’t quite full when we arrived but when I looked over towards the theater I could see a very long line of people waiting to get in.   When we got to the end of the line my friend quicky surmised that we wouldn’t make it in as the theater could only hold 450 people and the crowd looked like it numbered  nearly twice that.  Despite temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees combined with the noon day sun and the typical Washington area humidity of 90 percent or so  everyone in line seemed to be enjoying themselves as they held out hope that they would make it inside.

After the police announced that the theater was full about half of the people that were out of luck left but the rest just kept hanging around chatting and carrying their signs.  I stayed with my friend for close to an hour and interviewed a few people with my flip camera about their thoughts on the health care plan.

The reaction was interesting.  One young man wearing an Obama sticker on his shirt and holding a Healthcare First sign originally agreed to speak with me but after I told him who I worked for he respectfully declined.  I had better luck with some of the people who were carrying signs against the Democrats plan  and managed to find a pro-Obamacare nurse who was more than willing to go on camera so to speak.

Just before I left I spoke with a couple of older women.  One was from Europe and told me about government health care in her country and the other was from Canada and recounted the story of her brother who had cancer and needed and MRI .  He waited months for an appointment and did eventually receive one in April of this year.  The only problem is that he died in March at the age of 58.

Based on news reports Sen. Cardin got another earful from the attendees and rightfully so in my opinion. At the same time I give him credit for holding the meeting though based on the turnout I wonder if his staff couldn’t have found a larger venue to accommodate the crowd.

As for the angry mob accusations being tossed about by liberals and the press, yes people are angry but they aren’t violent. Are they organized?  Maybe some of them, but I came on my own volition as did most of the people I spoke to except the Obama supporters who were carrying Organizing for America signs.  So exactly who is organizing a mob?

Traditionally August represents the dog days of summer with family vacations, trips to the beach and little if anything happening in Washington as politicians go on recess until after Labor Day.

But so far August has been anything but the slow hazy days of summer for members of Congress who during the recess have been hosting Town Halls on president Obama’s health care plan.

At event after event concerned citizens have appeared in droves to voice their concerns, some very vocally about the plan and are asking how this is better than the current system and how much it will ultimately cost taxpayers.

For the congressional hosts this has been an unexpected and unwelcome response.  After all they had no intention of wading into the proverbial lions den and thought that demand for a national health care system would actually be something their constituents wanted.

As the politicians have struggled to defend a bill that most of them haven’t read and have been photographed in some cases with their head in their hands the DNC and the White House are now trying to come to the rescue.

The DNC is running ads calling the Obamacare protestors an “angry mob” and trying to portray them as right-wing kooks or outlaws.

President Obama is so unhappy with this outpouring of negative sentiment that he has sent out an e-mail urging supporters to attend future Town Halls to counter the protests.

Both the DNC and the White House are complaining that the anger expressed at the Town Halls is not a result of any genuine outpouring from the public but has been orchestrated by conservative groups and lobbyists like former congressman Dick Armey who represent the pharmaceutical industry

Yet as the Obama e-mail clearly showed the White House was counter organizing in an effort to blunt the protests.

Maybe I am missing something but this seems hypocritical to me. Also what does this say for any type of protest like the Million Man March?  Was that not organized and orchestrated by the left who arranged for transportation to ensure a large turnout?

By wading into the issue and criticizing those that aren’t buying into his plan of nationalized health care Obama has shed the last remnants of any appearance of bipartisanship that existed and has shown  a lack of respect for the office of the president when he starts fighting with the very people he represents.

What the public is saying at these Town Halls and at the Tea Parties that have taken place throughout the year is reminiscent of Howard Beale in the movie Network when he said “I’m mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.”

The Democrats in Congress and the president should take note if they want to remain in power in 2010 and beyond.