Rhetoric heats up on health care

Sen. Arlen Specter said Wednesday he thinks people who have been angrily disrupting town hall meetings on overhauling the health care system are "not necessarily representative of America," but should be heard.

"It’s more than health care," said Specter, 79, who earlier this year left the Republican Party and became a Democrat. "I think there is a mood in America of anger with so many people unemployed, with so much bickering in Washington … with the fear of losing their health care. It all boils over."

Specter and Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, appeared on a nationally broadcast news show Wednesday, a day after town hall meetings they hosted erupted in the same kind of catcalls, jeers and shouting that has characterized many such forums in recent weeks. "There were a couple of tough moments," McCaskill said of her experience, "but it lasted two hours and there were thousands of people there."

Jeers and taunts drowned out both Specter and McCaskill on occasion Tuesday. President Barack Obama was treated more respectfully at his town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

"You’ll be gone, by God the bureaucrats will still be here," one man told Specter at a session in Lebanon, Pa.

"If they don’t let us vent our frustrations out, they will have a revolution," Mary Ann Fieser of Hillsboro, Mo., told McCaskill at her Missouri health care forum. McCaskill admonished the rowdy crowd, saying "I don’t understand this rudeness. I honestly don’t get it."

The bitter sessions underscored the challenge for the administration as it tries to win over an increasingly skeptical public on the costly and far-reaching task of revamping the nation’s health care system. Desperate to stop a hardening opposition, the White House created a Web site to dispel what it says are smears and House Democrats set up a health care "war room" out of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office to help lawmakers handle questions.

Specter, who had another such forum scheduled Wedneday at State College, Pa., said he had been "impressed with the fact that people have been very well prepared." He said many have come to meetings with copies of the legislation and have cited specific provisions in their arguments.

"These people have a right to be organized," the senator said on CBS’s "The Early Show."

"I’m not going to complain about being organized. They have a right to speak," he said, "but I think we have to explain, they’re not necessarily representative of America. I think they’re vocal. I don’t think they’re representative."

Specter said he didn’t think people opposed to various health care proposals have a right to disrupt public meetings on the issue.

Obama answered his critics indirectly. At his town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., he urged Americans to ignore those who try to "scare and mislead the American people," telling a cordial audience, "For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary is if we do nothing."

McCaskill said she was "proud of the people that showed up and I don’t take that personally."

"It’s that they don’t trust government right now," she said on NBC’s "Today" show.

"It wasn’t the majority of the audience, it was a huge chunk of them," she said. "But I get that distrust. There’s a lot of cynicism out there and it’s important that I get out there and listen to that."

Many people "have a lot of pent-up frustration about what has happened over the past six months because it’s come fast and furious," McCaskill said.


  1. griff

    Yeah, it is more than healthcare. After the disaster of the Bush administration and the hysteria over Obama, his message of change, and his “historic” election, folks are finding out that the only thing that’s changed is the nameplate on the door.

    The jig is up, Washington. Aside from the usual 20 percent or so of diehard sychophants, noone’s buying your bullshit anymore. You can adapt your message and you can paint your opposition any color you’d like, but the writing’s on the wall.

    You’ve deceived us one too many times. It’s about time people got angry. To paraphrase admiral Yamamoto, I’m afraid all you’ve done is awaken a sleeping giant.

  2. woody188

    Got to love how they mentioned Obama’s meeting was with a “cordial audience” and he was “treated more respectfully.” Like we don’t know they pre-screened the audience and only allowed supporters into the town hall while dissenters were left outside to vent amongst themselves. Just like Bush Junior, Obama is afraid of opposition and how bad he would look in the face of real non-screened questioning.

    R U Main Core?

  3. Texo

    Does the government health care plan meet constitutional muster?

    What our Constitution allows the government to do is what we should all seek and it is a limiting contract.

    Those in government ” both the Democratic and Republican National Parties!” has as their goal from very early on is to void or violate the terms of our contract the US Constitution.

    The voters need to educate themselves and if they find a person not upholding their oath of office they should never vote form them again.

    Those in a position to protect and defend the contract should do so with honor to it and nothing more or less.

    Each state government with no regards to party should above all else do nothing that doesn’t conform strictly with the Constitution.

    They above all other have a Duty to the people of their states to make sure that the US Government is in compliance with the contract and should be the first to take legal action.

    The last thing they should do is take and come dependent on our redirected tax money as federal aid!

    Just a pipe dream as I’m not smoking anything. It is what I believe in:

    “Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket – keep it in your own.”


  4. Hoosier_CowBoy

    Teabag Toting Lemmings jump off a cliff at the behest of Lush Numbnuts might be a better headline.

    The talk runs from euthanaia at age 70 to microchips implanted at birth. It just gets wierder as time goes on.

    They are actually starting to look programmed and dumber than a box of rocks.

    PT Barnum would have loved them.

  5. woody188

    Or corporate media/government propaganda is hyping the nut jobs to cast all dissent against Obamacare as being “teabag toting lemmings” that “look programmed and dumber than a box rocks” in order to keep us divided and at each others throats until their plans are complete.

    Judging from your post, looks like corporate media/government propaganda is winning.

  6. CheckerboardStrangler

    Okay Arlen, we’ve heard them now…we’ve F****ING heard them enough. They got their fifteen goddam minutes of Barnum and Bailey and now they need to STFU and let the folks with some BRAINS talk.
    I’m sick of it and I’ve had it up to here with their disrespectful and unacceptable behavior.
    They’re making America look like a mob.
    This isn’t spirited protest anymore, it’s medieval witch hunting.

    It’s F****ING retarded.

  7. pondering_it_all

    Most of all, I enjoy all the protesters over 70 who are incensed that “government is going to take over their health care” if they don’t stop it….

    Do you think we should mention to them that their Medicare IS a single-payer health insurance program, run by the federal government already? It’s even financed by other taxpayers, too!

    Like our friend Greger said: “If Obama wanted to feed the poor, starving Republicans would show up to protest.”