Picking your friends is an important part of life. Picking your enemies is an important part of politics.
Americans who chose to attend town hall meetings this August to protest the many possible Utopias and Frankensteins still to be fashioned into Obamacare — rather than going to the mall, the golf course, or the swimming pool — are now smeared in portions of the media as members of a violent, nazi-like mob.
It’s not because of their behavior. After reviewing YouTube videos for hours and also reading and watching what passes for news coverage, I was struck by how civil people actually acted at these town hall meetings.
True, some folks were angry. Who can blame them?
And a few sounded pretty darn scared. But, you know, so am I.
There appeared to be one incident of actual violence. At Rep. Betty Reed’s town hall meeting in Tampa, also attended by Rep. Kathy Castor, a man was roughed up. He was pushed up against the wall and scratched across the chest. His two attackers, caught on video, then walked back inside the room and appeared to be with the event security, as one was controlling who could get in the doors.
The poor, manhandled man didn’t seem to be the aggressor, as far as I could tell. For one, he was there with his wife. When I expect trouble to break out, I never bring my wife along.
Much of the crowd, blocked from entering the meeting hall, then chanted “you work for us” and “hear our voice.” Not bad chants, in my book.
Meanwhile, now-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter explained to an incredulous Pennsylvania crowd that there are all these health care bills — each over 1,000 pages long — and “we have to make judgments very fast.” Statements like Specter’s warrant a certain raucous response.
One reason these public meetings are contentious is because most Americans aren’t buying what congresspeople are selling. As for intensity of opinion, a Rasmussen Reports poll shows 41 percent strongly opposed to the so-called reforms, while only 25 percent strongly in favor.