Monday, August 10, 2009

Arizona Republicans show Town Halls can be civil

In an article due out today in the Arizona Republic today, Arizona congressional representatives describe the tremendous advantage of town hall meetings in hearing constituents concerns, while Democrats expressed their frustrations. Jeff Flake, Republican for District 6 (wish he would move to District 7 and crush Grijalva, spoke articulately to AzCentral about why debate is important on health care before speaking to a packed gymnasium of 1500 people at Basha High School:

Jeff Shadegg had the following to say after 600 plus attended his townhall on Saturday in Scottsdale:

"I think it's un-American for the speaker of the House to claim that everyone who doesn't like her bill is being paid for by the insurance industry," Shadegg said, riffing off Pelosi and Hoyer's statement. "I also agree that it would be, in fact, un-American to disrupt a town hall."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former presidential candidate who has presided over more than 100 town-hall meetings in the influential state of New Hampshire alone, last week commented on Twitter his appreciation for the format: "Town-hall meetings are an American tradition - we should allow everyone to express their views without disruption - even if we disagree!"

What do Arizona Democrats have to say about townhall meetings? I could describe the comments, but mostly they agree with Nancy Pelosi in describing expressing one's views at these events as "unAmerican" (meaning don't bring your opposing views because you're wrong).
In contrast to Arizona's Rpublican Congressmen, Raul Grijalva, Arizona's District 7 Representative, recommends an Op Ed article by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on his Facebook page. In his article Krugman suggests that protesters anger is racially based.
they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.

"...the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship." He goes on to imply, like Obama did in the primaries, that Republican opposition to Obama is racially based. "’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites."

Explain how this "theory" fits with reports of attacks on a black teaparty member handing out "Don't Tread on Me" flags outside a town hall meeting in St Louis. Kenneth Gladney, who was not admitted to the Townhall, was set upon by Union thugs (I will not use quotations, these people clearly were, by definition, thugs, invited to the meeting to intimidate and, if necessary remove opponents to the Health Care reform bill).

Is Grijalva, by quoting Klugman, clearly trying to imply that opposition to HR3200 is equal to racial hatred, that Teapartiers and Townhall participants are motivated to deny Health care to low income Hispanics and Blacks? While the idea is preposterous, it sure sounds like Grijalva is trying to motivate his Hispanic and liberal political base by claiming racial hatred. It worked for Obama during the election. While I am reasonably sure that, in the words of a former president, now Secretary of... (no wait, Hillary IS the Secretary of State), That dog won't hunt, expect a lot more of it in the coming days and months.

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