Politicians facing irate constituents -- even if they're deeply misinformed or organized activists -- are not victims. Part of the job is fielding questions and feeling heat. But aggressively putting hands on a member of Congress is not okay, nor is planting vulgar signs in the yards of their personal homes. And then there are more serious crimes, like this frightening scene out of Tennessee:
A Tenessee woman was charged with felony reckless endangerment after allegedly chasing Congressman David Kustoff, who voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, down a highway and placing him "in fear of being run off" the road. Kustoff attended a meeting at the University of Tennessee unrelated to the AHCA where Wendi Wright, 35, allegedly tried to discuss her grievances with him. Kustoff drove off and "that's why she began following him," Weakley County Sheriff's Department Sergeant told BuzzFeed News. After Kustoff pulled into a driveway, Wright allegedly got out of her car and "began screaming and striking the windows" of his car, police told BuzzFeed News. "I've been led to believe she was upset over a vote he had cast involving health care," Plunk said.
This is unhinged behavior, the latest in a groundswell of appalling conduct from left-wing "resistance" agitators and violent gangs. These extremists do not represent all liberals, nor are they anywhere near a majority of Americans concerned about Republican policies or opposed to Trump. But given the Left's rush to smear the Tea Party movement based on garbage anecdotes, and based on the standard under which the media demands that virtually every elected Republican under the sun answer for the worst excesses (alleged or real) of anyone right-of-center, it's time for Democrats to be hounded to denounce this ugliness. It's a decent bet that this political road rage incident might have been fueled by misinformation. Perhaps Ms. Wright heard the lie that the American Health Care Act makes rape and sexual assault a pre-existing condition. Or maybe she's under the impression that the bill would leave tens of millions of innocent people with pre-existing conditions to fend for themselves. After all, prominent Democrats keep repeating that debunked claim, despite getting slapped with a flurry of Pinocchios:
False, gets 4 Pinnochios but what do you bet she keeps saying it anyway?/ https://t.co/GUTCD8xn9Y— Brit Hume (@brithume) May 12, 2017
The reality that many AHCA opponents refuse to accept is that Obamacare is failing badly, harming millions through ever-rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs, with access to care shriveling up. The problem is getting worse; if not for the Comey circus, Aetna's decision to abandon all remaining Obamacare exchanges might be the top story of the week. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans continue their efforts to forge compromises as they pursue their end of this legislative process (elements of which I discussed earlier with health policy expert Lanhee Chen). Another interesting detail, via the Washington Examiner, is that conservative members of the Senate's working group are pushing for a version of the House's MacArthur amendment wherein the stripping out of many Obamacare regulations (essential health benefits, community rating, etc) would be the default setting, and states would have to opt in to keep them in place:
Today's Senate healthcare talks will be on regulations. Conservatives would prefer an "opt in" rather than "opt out" https://t.co/At3wF9I4V1— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) May 11, 2017
I don't think that can garner 50 votes, but this development offers a useful clue about what some of the starting negotiating positions look like. Healthcare is a tough and serious issue. Emotions can understandably run high on all sides. But criminal and threatening conduct cannot be tolerated.