The Campaign Spot

Constituents Complain to GOP Congressman, Life Goes On

One eight hour, door-to-door journey ends, another begins… but fear not: the Jolt continues. Today, a nominee for the best column about Obama ever, Patty Murray’s bipolar attitude toward violent metaphors, and then this news item, which feels like a rerun from about two years ago…

Maybe the Crowd Was Angry Because They Expected Emmanuel Lewis

This phenomenon sounds familiar, only the parties have flipped: “A town hall meeting held in Orlando by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster degenerated into bedlam Tuesday, with members of the crowd shouting down the freshman Republican congressman and yelling at one another. It was the last of a series of town hall meetings Webster has hosted during Congress’ spring recess, which ends Monday. While the others were civil and largely uneventful, the 300 people at Tuesday’s meeting were so raucous they were scolded by a police officer to act “like grown people.”  Webster tried to go over a series of charts showing growing levels of federal spending and debt, and the reason he supports the federal budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. But he was interrupted at every turn by shouts from his critics, including members of progressive groups such as and Organize Now. Boos and shouts of “liar” were mixed with angry accusations that Ryan’s plan to change Medicare would leave those now under 55 without health insurance in their retirement, calls to eliminate the tax cuts first put in place by former President Bush and the need to raise corporate taxes rather than cut entitlement programs.”

I suppose this reflects the crowd feeling turn-about is fair play. And if we thought the people ought to be able to express their opinions to their representatives two summers ago, there’s no reason to change.

(At Hot Air, Allahpundit wonders how the Orlando Sentinel can be so certain of the affiliations of those jeering: “How do they know there were people there from MoveOn? I expect Democrats to astroturf these crowds with progressive groups and union members — they’ve doneit before, after all, while luminaries like Pelosi and Reid falsely accused conservatives of the same tactic — but they’d have to be awfully stupid to wear t-shirts or other paraphernalia identifying them as ‘turfers. How’d the Sentinel figure it out? Did the attendees actually admit to reporters afterwards that they were there to express America’s alleged grassroots rage as part of a MoveOn group? Smart.”)

But note Webster’s reaction: “Webster beat Democrat U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson last year. But the 8th Congressional District has a Democrat majority, and the party hopes to take the seat back in 2012. He appeared flustered at times, but remained calm and never raised his voice. “This is the most competitive part of the district and I expected it to be a competitive crowd,” Webster said when the dust had settled. “There’s nothing wrong with that….There’s nothing wrong with the clash of debate at all, nothing.’”

Notice that Webster did not compare the crowd to Timothy McVeigh. No talk of abandoning the town hall meeting format. No claim that the folks who showed up with opposing views are not actual constituents. No demand that everyone turn in their cameras first, lest something embarrassing end up on YouTube. No bizarre claim that constituent meetings not be considered ‘political events.’

Seeing dozens of people show up to tell you that you stink is no fun. But this is why they pay members of Congress the big bucks ($174,000 per year, plus benefits). Little League umpires get it almost as bad for a couple of bucks a game.


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