Monday, March 29, 2010

Crazy Does Too Count

Pete Sessions
Rep. Pete Sessions

I said previously that Republicans will have a tough sell trying to repeal the recently enacted health insurance reforms. There are too many benefits to too many Americans. To repeal, Republicans would have to propose specific legislation. With that, the tables would be turned. Just like Republicans were able to club Democrats over the head with legislative language taken out of context, Democrats will be able to do the same with any proposed legislation by Republicans. Don't count on repeal.

After the jump, why that doesn't mean the debate is over.

Just because Republicans won't repeal health insurance reform, that's not to say they won't use health insurance reform as a campaign issue. They can run against the Democratic legislation, ignoring the benefits, highlighting the costs, and occasionally making stuff up. To win in November, Republicans are counting on a rock-solid base of about a quarter to a third of voters. These are the kind of Americans The Dallas Morning News described this way:

"It's one thing to disagree with President Barack Obama on matters of policy. It's quite another to believe he's a socialist (40 percent), a Muslim (32 percent), not a native-born American (25 percent), a domestic enemy (25 percent) or, in effect, the second coming of Hitler (20 percent). Those are some dispiriting results from a recent Harris Interactive poll of 2,320 Americans. Seriously, folks. Our nation was built on a healthy exchange of ideas, up to and including passionate disagreement. Crazy doesn't count."

With Congress adjourned for an Easter recess, legislators have spread out across America to fire up that "crazy" base and try to expand it enough to get across that "50% plus one" threshold needed to regain power. Dallas' own Rep. Pete Sessions held a town hall meeting in Richardson Monday to give the public a preview of the talking points the Republicans plan to take into the November election campaign.

The venue was the Eisemann Center in Richardson, capacity 1550. I estimate attendance was maybe 750. There were no crazies there. Or at least no crazies in colonial garb or carrying signs saying things like "Obama = Hitler." There were plenty of over-heated comments like:

  • the legislation was "designed to kill the free enterprise system"
  • the drug industry will be "decimated"
  • cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and breast cancer are now impossible
  • research into the human genome will come to a "screeching halt"
  • Tarrant County's public hospital will be forced to close
  • "America's days as a superpower are over"

But these weren't uttered by crazies in the audience. They were all uttered by the Congressman from Texas, Pete Sessions. He took twenty one questions from the audience, almost all of them less fanciful than Sessions' own comments. That's even counting the woman who said that passing the legislation was "tyranny" and "the end of America's freedoms." All in all, Richardson's Eisemann Center was an appropriate setting for what turned out to be an evening of political theater.

If I can work up the stomach for it, tomorrow I'll try to give more details about what color Pete Sessions says the sky is on his world.

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