Opinion

Town hall anger

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

So declared Sarah Palin on a recent Facebook note.

In reality, the health care reform proposed by the Obama administration allows Medicare to pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling. This provision was actually introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia. That’s right, a republican. Unfortunately, Sarah Palin is not the only one distorting the truth. Leading republicans like Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have also claimed the bill proposes a “death panel.”

The idea that Obama supports a “death panel” has helped lead to angry citizens storming recent town hall meetings. The actions of some of these town hall mobs have ranged from the ironic (“Keep the government out of my Medicare!”) to the paranoid (“You should be afraid of Obama! We are all afraid of Obama!”) to the downright scary (Rep. Brian Baird, D-NM, has not held any town hall meetings because of death threats he has received).

Many of these town hall mobs have been organized by grass-roots organizations, but interest groups have played an important role. The two major conservative interest group organizations behind some of these town hall mobs are FreedomWorks and Conservatives for Patients’ Rights. The former has even released a memo explaining how to confront your Democratic congressmen at town hall meetings. The organization suggests that conservatives try to get their people in the front half in order to create the impression that the majority agrees with them. As Stephen Colbert put it, “This beats the old strategy of actually having the majority agree with you.”

Interest groups and politicians are not the only ones responsible for misinformation. The blame also falls on irresponsible news organizations, like, in particular, Fox News. During a town hall meeting, Rep. Bob Inglis, R-SC, asked an attendee why she was afraid of Barack Obama. The crowd suggested that the congressman watch Glenn Beck, a host on the Fox News Channel that has often propagated the myth of “death panels” and has a strong dislike for Barack Obama, recently calling him a “racist.” Rep. Inglis replied, “Turn that television off when he comes on.” The crowd began to boo their representative and many left the building.

President Obama has renewed efforts to combat misinformation by holding various town hall meetings, but will his words fall on deaf ears? In a recent town hall meeting being held by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-PA, a woman claimed she was angry because she didn’t want “this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialized country.” The woman was later asked what she thought about Sen. Specter’s response. She replied that she was so emotional that she “didn’t hear half of what he said.”

September 2, 2009

Reporters

Thomas Prieto

Contributing Columnist


2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Town hall anger”

  1. Melvin says:

    Or maybe if the Republicans would stop turning this reform into a partisan fight and stop distorting the facts about the reform being pushed for right now, we wouldn’t have this problem.

    And this “problem” that Dave speaks of is not a Democrat’s problem or a Republican’s problem, it is a problem that everyone in America should be worried about.

  2. Dave says:

    Hmmm, an article on misinformation that doesn’t provide any real info on the health care changes being proposed. Nice, real nice.

    Explaining what the proposed changes would actually do is a better way of getting people on your side.

    Maybe if the Democrats had clearly explained the proposals to begin with they wouldn’t be having this problem.

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It was a good day for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team. They moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 ...

Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey made key plays back-to-back late in the game and four players s ...

1. MARLINS: Jeter's Fish trade Gordon. Stanton next?: While others spend -- like the Angels to ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ With the first ever early signing period just two we ...

University of Miami coach Mark Richt and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst sat on a stage poolside at the ...

A scholarship created by retired Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and born out of his love ...

New Multi-State Institute Focuses on Reducing Damage from Severe Storms ...

Daniela Deu was drawn to both architecture and urbanism, believes architecture can change communitie ...

Canes Basketball player development assistant will graduate with MSED in Sport Administation. ...

UOnline graduate will earn his M.S. in Health Informatics ...

Two Hurricanes receive AVCA All-America recognition for first time since 2014. ...

Coming off its first top-25 victory of the year, the Miami women's basketball team will play it ...

Hurricanes earn highest ranking since March 2013. ...

Walker IV recorded a career-high 26 points, seven rebounds in the win over Boston U. ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team earned an impressive 65-54 win over No. 20/23 K ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.