Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Going to the meeting

Elaine and I went tonight to a “town hall meeting” on health care given by Congressman Tim Johnson (R, Illinois-15). It was a disappointing experience. Of the allotted sixty minutes, ten were lost waiting for Rep. Johnson to arrive. Nine were given over to introductory remarks. Rep. Johnson’s talking points in those remarks and thereafter remained consistent: we have the best health care system in the world (whoops and cheers); a public option is “socialized medicine” (whoops and cheers); it is time for people to “reclaim,” “take back” the government (more whoops, more cheers).

A public option, one audience member pointed out, is a prelude to, yes, communism. And speaking of things Russian, Rep. Johnson confessed to being troubled by the presence of an energy czar in the Obama administration. Johnson evidently has forgotten that czars are what communism did away with. But he has also forgotten that an energy czar was in place as far back as Richard Nixon’s administration.

I heard no clear arguments as to how to make health care more affordable in the absence of a public option. And as Elaine discovered, searching for health care on Johnson’s web page brings up the following:

[Click for a larger view.]

What most bothered me in Rep. Johnson’s remarks: his sneering references to President Obama, whom he twice called “our esteemed leader,” to general laughter. If that’s how he talks about the president in public, I can only imagine what he says in private.

Related reading
Lorem ipsum (Wikipedia article)

comments: 7

Rob said...

About 10 years ago I was working as a Project Manager for an advertising firm in Champaign that did quite a bit of work for the Johnson campaign. During my time there I was responsible for making sure his pamphlets were finished on time, as well as scheduling time with all of the local TV channels for his commercials.

Without going into too much detail, let's just say that I never voted for him.

thalkowski said...

Amazing. We need a term for politicians who offer less than 'boilerplate' language to address a key public issue, & Rep. Johnson provides the answer: a 'Lorem ipsum' politician.

Slywy said...

If it were me (I—covering my bases here), I would write an open letter to your esteemed representative, copying all the major local media, and suggest that he was elected to serve as a statesman, not a rabble rouser, and should at least act the part of an adult, if being statesmanlike is too much for him.

On the other hand, after reading bios of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, it's humbling to realize that even men who are revered like Jefferson and Adams could be churlish and childish and sling mud with the best (Hamilton and Franklin's grandson). I don't understand why respectful debate is THAT hard.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for the comments, Rob, Timothy, and Diane.

My last letter to the editor was so badly mangled in print that I no longer try. But I have written a lengthy letter to Rep. Johnson, cc’d to a Democratic colleague of his from New York, Steve Israel. Together they lead a group called the Center Aisle Caucus, devoted to bipartisan cooperation. If I hear back, I will post about it.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely disgusting. I've read so many similar descriptions of these town meetings that I'm starting to lose what little confidence I had in the intelligence of my fellow citizens. Truly sad and frightening.

Michael Leddy said...

This meeting was sedate compared to what’s on television, largely because the Congressman and most of the audience shared a point of view. But still. When I hear people yelling “Shut up” and “Sit down” as someone in favor of a public option talks about our infant mortality rate, I really wonder where I’m living.

T. said...

I find this so colossally depressing.