By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 7, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After a series of humiliating town-hall meetings suffered by Congressional Democrats, the White House has called out professional “community organizers” and labor unions to fight-back against a vigorous grassroots movement protesting President Barack Obama health-care reform. But opponents of the Democrats health-care plans, many of whom are concerned about the potential for involuntary euthanasia and abortion coverage, are gaining momentum and show no signs of backing down, even in the face of union violence.
“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard!” Jim Messina, the White House Deputy Chief of staff, told Senate Democrats in a meeting to prepare them to respond to constituent protests according to staffers. In a similar vein, labor union bosses, such as the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), sent out memos urging their members to turn out in force and “drown out” opponents’ voices.
Violence erupted at one Missouri town-hall meeting when several thugs from the (SEIU) attacked a conservative African-American man passing out yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags outside the event. Three men wearing SEIU shirts and another unidentified woman assaulted Kenneth Gladney, 38, punching him in the face, and then kicking him in the head and back as they swore racially-charged epithets at him outside of Rep. Russ Carnahan's (D-MO) town hall meeting in Melville, Missouri. Police made six arrests.
The local “Tea Party” group organized a protest on Saturday outside of SEIU’s headquarters in St. Louis to demand justice for Gladney, who had to be admitted to the emergency room for his injuries. Gladney appeared in a wheel-chair, and signed similar flags, and other signs that said, “Don’t Tread on Kenny.”
In Tampa Bay, over 1,500 protestors showed up to a town-hall featuring Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) that was equipped to seat just 250 people and cameras. The vast majority assembled were opposed to Obama’s health care plan. SEIU members, on the other hand, were admitted through a side-door, instead of the main entrance, and shoved a number of opponents, including seniors, outside to close the doors on the meeting.
In Michigan, one town-hall had an explosive confrontation between Michigander Mike Sola, who wheeled his 36-year-old son, Scott, who suffers with cerebral palsy, and demanded of Rep. John D. Dingell why his son would not be covered under the health-insurance plan. Sola could be heard making references to statements by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama’s health policy advisor, that real cost-cutting would be made only by rationing health-care treatment away from the elderly and disabled to the more physically fit, and that anything else was “'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change.”
Sola was ushered away by the police, but not before denouncing Dingell, the main author of HR 3200, as a “fraud.” In a Fox News interview after the event Sola explained his position and the information he had contradicting Dingell's answer to his question. He also claimed that he and his family were threatened in the middle of the night after his protest.
Although Dingell insisted that HR 3200 did not provide abortion coverage, many in the audience did not buy it according to the Detroit Free Press. Pro-life advocates have attacked the bill, because abortion-coverage could be mandated at any time on all insurers – public and private – by the “Health Benefits Advisory Committee,” which would fall under the oversight of the Executive Branch, not Congress.
“The government wants to control my body, my health care decisions and the doctors I see,” said Christine Wofford, 56, who brought and distributed literature from the Liberty Counsel, a Christian civil liberties legal defense firm.
Some Democrats have chosen to retreat from the town-hall forum rather than face a testy reception from voters, in favor of telephone town-hall meetings or one-on-one meetings with constituents.
Meanwhile, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, communicating through postings on her Facebook page, has urged Americans to continue to make their voices heard, but to make sure that passion over the health-care debate does not lead to charges of “intimidation or harassment.” Palin also joined her voice in condemnation of the bill.
“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,” said Palin. “Such a system is downright evil.”
Congressional Democratic leadership and the White House have engaged in a public relations campaign to discredit town-hall protests as an “astro-turf” grassroots organized by Republicans and operatives from private health insurers, instead of a genuine expression of civil discontent at Obama’s proposed reforms.
“I think they’re AstroTurf, you be the judge,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle. “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare.”
However, the only pictures available show protestors holding signs with the Nazi (National Socialist) imagery crossed out and as a reference to what many of those protestors perceive as President Barack Obama’s subtle attempt to nationalize the health-care industry.
Also in contrast to the citizens protesting the potential for rationing, abortion-coverage, or involuntary euthanasia under health-care reform, Craig's List is now featuring listings of full or part-time positions for paid activists to push Obama’s health-care agenda. One ad offers between $400-600 per week at a rate of $10-15 per hour.
Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have also accused opponents massing at town-halls of being “un-American.”
“These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” the two Democrat leaders wrote in an op-ed for USAToday.
Yet the latest polls, not just the overwhelming turnout at town hall meetings, reveal that a majority of Americans now oppose Obama’s proposals for health-care reform.
According to Rasmussen polls, 51 percent of the nation’s voters fear the federal government more than private insurance companies, while 41 percent fear private insurers over the federal government.
76 percent of Democrats favor the proposal, while 76 percent of Republicans are opposed. But among independent voters, only 35 percent favor Obama’s plan, while 60 percent are opposed with 47 percent strongly opposed.
An August 6 Quinnipiac poll found Obama’s approval rating at 50 percent, a sign that the President is now bleeding supporters. Voters disapproved of his health care proposals by a margin of 52 percent to 39 percent.