Dan Webster would be hard-pressed to make himself heard in a library. So the soft-spoken congressman didn't have a chance Tuesday when his town-hall meeting turned into a political food fight.
It seems liberal activists learned a lesson from the tea party.
They came; they shouted; they disrupted.
It worked for the tea party in attacking Democrats over ObamaCare. And it is working for liberals in attacking Republicans over RyanCare.
The Webster town hall was covered by National Public Radio and reported not only on our front page but also on the front page of The New York Times.
We love angry people yelling at politicians. Even better, we love them yelling at each other, as in, "You moron!''
At least we know the angry liberals aren't packing. Well, maybe pepper spray.
Webster was targeted not only because he is a Republican in a swing district, but also because he is the Republican who brought down Alan Grayson, the heart and soul of the left wing, the Democrat who fights like a Republican, the man who said Dick Cheney has "blood that drips from his teeth.''
I'm not ruling out that Cheney is a vampire, but it's Grayson who looks as if he's planning to rise from his political grave.
From the perspective of the left, can you think of a better repudiation of the right than to restore Grayson to his rightful throne in Washington?
Can't you just see him on the House floor, reducing Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare to placards: "And when you turn 65, die quickly."
In large part, the Republicans deserve this.
For years they have rightly accused Democrats of scaring seniors about entitlement programs. But then, last year, they resorted to the same sleazy tactic.
They accused President Barack Obama of taking from the old and giving to the poor.
This was the key campaign talking point of almost every congressional race, particularly here in Florida: "Protect Medicare from Obama."
Marco Rubio actually argued to restore the budget-busting Medicare Advantage program.
Republicans played the senior greed card. And it worked beyond their wildest dreams. They captured a whopping 57 percent of the senior vote in 2010.
The problem is that they now are stuck with the message they delivered during the campaign: Medicare was just fine until Obama began meddling with it. We'll undo his $500 billion in cuts. You can have all your perks back, even your health-club memberships, if you vote for us.
"They were looking for every angle against ObamaCare they could find, and that was one of them,'' admits Webster. "I think they oversold it.''
Medicare has to be slashed dramatically. Ryan's plan does that by turning it into something of a voucher program, with the government writing checks to insurance companies. He would force the medical-industrial complex to rein in costs by limiting the amount of the vouchers.
You might pardon seniors for being a bit confused. Last year, the Republicans were saving Medicare. This year, they want to privatize Medicare and slash trillions out of it.
I can see the 2012 campaign shaping up now: If you thought Obama's death panels were scary, just wait until you see the ones appointed by Ryan's HMOs.
Republicans foolishly have misread the 2010 election results. They think there is some kind of seismic shift in the political tectonic plates going on. They think they have a mandate to take their sling blades to the trillions in debt we face from the baby-boom retirement.
In fact, the message voters delivered was to cut somebody else's money out of the budget, but not mine.
That's hardly new, hardly revolutionary. We are, after all, the greediest generation.
Already polls show overwhelming support for leaving the entitlements alone and taxing the rich.
Paul Ryan is leading Republicans into the Valley of Death.
The brouhaha over RyanCare is eclipsing that over ObamaCare.
If it's any consolation, I think Ryan's plan has merit.
At this point, I'd go with a plan that allowed only seniors born in odd-numbered years to go to the doctor on Mondays and those born in even-numbered years on Wednesdays.
Anything is better than the current plan of national insolvency.
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