Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tom Perriello's Town Hall on Health Care

Last night Tom Perriello held a town hall meeting at CHS, and Brian McNeill reports in this morning's Progress (here) that about 1,300 people attended.

Unlike recent town hall meetings elsewhere, McNeill says that Perriello's was quite civil, with a large number of the questioners supporting the general framework of health care reform (this surprised me somewhat, as I assumed the local Tea Party organization and other conservative groups would show up en masse last night, particularly in light of Rob Schilling's oft-repeated criticisms of Perriello).

It sounds like Perriello remained noncommittal on details but pledged to focus on a plan that 5th District constituents would want:
"A reporter asked if Perriello is feeling heat from the Democratic leadership in the House to support the health care bill. 'I don’t really care about the pressure from the leadership,” he replied. “I care about getting it right for the folks in my district.'"
One problem with McNeill's summary is that he highlights a question about Perriello's support (or not) of a public option, but he does not provide Perriello's answer. I'm curious to know how he is walking the tightrope of supporting real, substantive reform versus avoiding the inevitable allegations of socialism/Obamacare if he supports a public option.

I'm still uncertain whether Perriello is affiliated formally or informally with the Blue Dog Democrats.
Meanwhile, the national news yesterday focused on Arlen Specter's town hall in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. That meeting was ugly, with unbelievably irate people yelling at Specter.

For now, the national columnists seem split on the town hall disruptions -- some are presenting the whole phenomenon as a healthy flowering of democracy in action, while others are lamenting the serious decline in civil, rationalized discourse.

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