Could be. That at least seems to be the thinking at the drown-them-out halls, such as Sen. Blanche Lincoln had in Russellville yesterday.
Shouts. Jeers. "Marxists." "Communists." Etc.
Tonight for Lincoln, Pine Bluff. Then Jonesboro. Just hope no one gets a finger bitten off or a punch in the face. Maybe some more people will press her on the parsing she's doing on "public option." Is she flatly opposed? Or only opposed to government-financed public option?
Speaking of town halls, E.J. Dionne has thoughts on media coverage of them.
Health-care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town-hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change.
But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?
There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television's point of view "boring") encounters between elected representatives and their constituents.
It's also clear that the anger that got so much attention largely reflects a fringe right-wing view opposed to all sorts of government programs most Americans support. Much as the far left of the antiwar movement commanded wide coverage during the Vietnam years, so now are extremists on the right hogging the media stage -- with the media's complicity.
LINCOLN NEWS RELEASE
Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln today will host a town hall meeting at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Hathaway/Howard Fine Arts Center from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Doors open at 2:30.
“As I travel the state, I continue to hear from Arkansans concerned about health care and our recovering economy,” Lincoln said. “Rebuilding our nation’s economy and putting more than 100,000 jobless Arkansans back to work is my top priority. As health care premiums continue to rise for Arkansas’s families and our nation spends one of every six dollars on health care costs, reforming our health insurance system is an essential part of getting our economy back on track. I look forward to continuing an open and constructive dialogue with Arkansans so that we can rebuild our economy and fine-tune our health care system so it works for all of us.”
After fulfilling a number of previously scheduled obligations during the first week of the recess period, Lincoln adjusted the remainder of her schedule to accommodate requests for face-to-face town hall meetings with Arkansans.
Lincoln has averaged more than 10 public, town hall-style meetings per year since she was first sworn in as a U.S. Senator in 1999. These open forums have focused on Social Security, the Medicare prescription drug program, education, veterans and National Guard, and many more issues. Earlier this year, in anticipation that Congress would act on health care reform in July, Lincoln held a series of rural health care public forums tour across the state in April, as well as open meetings during the July work period.
“I appreciate the opportunity to personally meet with fellow Arkansans to hear their comments and concerns,” Lincoln said. “That is the best part of my job, and I look forward to holding this latest series of town hall meetings.”
In addition to town hall meetings in Russellville, Pine Bluff and Jonesboro, Lincoln will appear at the invitation of the Arkansas chapter of the American Association of Retired People (AARP) on a Teletown Hall meeting for AARP members and will be the guest of talk radio hosts Bob Steel and Dave Elswick on their respective shows during the first week of September.
In addition, Lincoln has solicited the comments and opinions of thousands of Arkansans by email regarding health insurance reform and has shared many of these responses with her Senate colleagues. Lincoln encouraged those who are unable to meet with her in person to continue their open dialogue via phone, mail, and email (contact info at www.lincoln.senate.gov).
The following is Lincoln’s schedule of events for September 3-4:
Thursday, September 3—Pine Bluff
3:30-5:30 p.m., Pine Bluff Town Hall Meeting. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Hathaway/Howard Fine Arts Center. 1200 North University, Pine Bluff. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.
Parking: The general public may park in any spaces on campus, except those designated as staff and faculty only.
6:30 p.m., Featured speaker, Jefferson County Farm Bureau annual meeting. Pine Bluff Country Club, 1100 Country Club Lane.
Friday, September 4—Jonesboro
9:00-11:00 a.m., Jonesboro Town Hall Meeting. Arkansas State University’s Fowler Center. 201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro. Doors open at 8:00 a.m.
Parking is available next to the Fowler Center at the Convocation Center or in the Kell Field Baseball Complex parking lot.
3:30-4:00 p.m., KARN News Radio’s Dave Elswick Show. Lincoln will join host Dave Elswick for a one-on-one interview and take questions from callers. KARN live line call-in number: 501-433-0092, or 1-800-264-0092.