Right now, Fox News is carrying a town hall debate held by Arlen Specter in Lebanon, Pa. that is illuminating. First, it's the way all town hall debates should go if those that attend want to make sure that it's killed. So far, there have been fifteen people to ask questions. So far, fourteen have spoken out against the bill and one spoke in favor of it. The questions have been tough and probing. There has been passion but the Senator has been allowed to answer the questions. The questioners raised all sorts of concerns in the health care bill. A teacher said the bill was incomprehensible and suggested that all bills be written so that an eighth grader could understand it. One lady said that between the stimulus, cap and trade, and this health care bill the government is taking us on a path toward to socialism. Several folks were concerned that illegal aliens would be a part of the new health care bill and be given free health services. Several people were very concerned that the government would be given access to the people's financial statements. Several other people were concerned that the new health care bill would have government paid abortions.
Specter, for his part, has said over and over that there is no Senate bill. He has rejected his support for any bill that gives the government access to people's bank accounts, vague standards, and imposes government funded abortions. As such, he would, if he kept his word, have to vote against HB 3200. One lady summed up what is going on with these town halls when she said this "you awakened a sleeping giant with this out of control government take over". What is clear from this town hall is that none of the folks were part of a mob, astro turfers, or organized by nefarious forces. Anyone that saw any of this particular town hall knows that in Lebanon, Pa. don't fit any of the stereotypes perpetrated by the Democrats and the media.
Meanwhile, Senator Cardin held a town hall meeting yesterday evening that was a lot more combative.
Last night on the Panel on Special Report, there was generally agreement among the panel that the behavior at these town hall debates is actually helping the Democrats. This was a point first raised by Stephen Hayes on Sunday. I think pundits simply don't get it. The anger is real. The passion is real, and that's because Americans are angry and scared. This is a wholesale rejection of not only the health care bill but frankly the entire agenda coming out of D.C. Of course, the latest polling shows evidence that I am right as public approval for Obama Care continues to be in free fall. It's now in the low 40's and I said it would get into the 30's before the end of the month.
I have also said that as this develops it will also evolve. I said that some of these folks would wind up being interviewed on television and that's what's starting to happen now. The first is Dr. Brian Hill. He's a urologist, and independent, and he was confronted by Congressman Scott in Georgia. Here he is confronting the Congressman on CNN.
This clip is of the man that confronted John Dingell at a town hall debate.
So, over the next week, watch for this story to evolve from one that focuses on the passion of the protesters to one that focuses on the specific probing questions and the answers. I will give Specter credit for taking the fire. He took serious fire about two weeks ago at another town hall debate with Secretary Sebelius. Most pols would have cancelled future town halls after taking that much fire. That said, he clearly didn't know much of the details of the House plan. Over and over, he answered specific questions by saying there is no Senate plan yet. There is however a House plan and he clearly doesn't know the details of that plan. I suspect that is the knowledge of almost all politicians about the specifics of the bill. As voters continue to question pols about specifics of the bill, it will become clear that the politicians voting on the bill will know less than the voters themselves.
The riveting story of the Democrats vs. the Tea Parties, as represented by the town hall protesters, continues and continues to evolve. It continues to move full steam ahead toward nailing the final nail in the coffin of this health care reform.
Finally, so far, locally, the only town hall debate is from Rep. Jan Schakowsky. It will be at Niles West High School at 6:30PM on August 31st.
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