Ah yes, the Glenn Beck citizen patriots! They turned out in force last night to disrupt yet another town hall meeting on health care reform. I wonde
Ah yes, the Glenn Beck citizen patriots! They turned out in force last night to disrupt yet another town hall meeting on health care reform. I wonder when the union members start showing up? (Read Bill Mann's Four Creative Ways to Deal with Right-Wing Rent-a-Mobs. Great ideas!)
TAMPA – Bitter divisions over reforming America's health care system exploded Thursday night in Tampa amid cat calls, jeering and shoving at a town hall meeting.
"Tyranny! Tyranny! Tyranny!" dozens of people shouted as U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor struggled to talk about health insurance reforms under consideration in Washington, D.C.
"There is more consensus than there is disagreement when you get right down to it," Castor offered, immediately drowned out by groans and boos.
She pressed on, mostly unheard among the screams from the audience of more than 200.
"Tell the truth! Tell the truth!"
"Read the bill!"
"Forty-million illegals! Forty million illegals!"
The spectacle at the Children's Board in Ybor City sounded more like a wrestling cage match than a panel discussion on national policy, and it was just the latest example of a health care meeting disrupted by livid protesters. Similar scenes are likely to be repeated across the country as lawmakers head back to their home districts for the summer recess.
Thursday's forum/near riot was sponsored by state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, and the Service Employees International Union, who apparently had hoped to hold something of a pep rally for President Obama's health care reform proposal.
Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters.
An overflow crowd of critics was left waiting outside the building – and in some cases pounding on the meeting room doors – while health care reform activists complained that Democrats and union members were guided into the room for prime seats.
"They can't even run a meeting, and they want to run health care?," scoffed Kevin Grant, a Tampa printing business owner, standing near someone wielding a "Shame on you America. You sold your soul to the Devil" sign.
The problems began when a crowd of around 500, many of them recruited to attend by interest groups both for and against the proposal, sought to enter the meeting room. The room, in the offices of the Hillsborough County Children's Board on East Palm Avenue, has a capacity of only about 250.
Several hundred people, mostly opponents, wound up outside or packing a hallway leading into the meeting room. Some scuffled with members of the sponsoring groups who manned the doorway.