Just got home from Inslee's townhall. I'll try to post up as much as I can remember of it while it's still fresh. If any others were there and have more to add, feel free to comment and I'll try to update when possible.
The usual suspects were there with their "keep the feds out of my healthcare" signs and their baby killer signs. They were perhaps 25% of a large crowd that filled North Kitsaps auditorium full.
I was immediately handed a flier about 'Death Panels". I took it, perused it, then said to the woman handing them out: "So you really believe there are death panels?"
"Not yet," she told me, "But there will be."
"Oh, there ARE death panels right now, "I assured her, " and since Obamas been president, the health insurance industry has presided over the deaths of 18,000 Americans."
I handed her flier back and didn't stick around to listen to her blathering as I walked away. I had seen the fear in her eyes when I brought up the REAL death panels going on today. It's the talking point that literally destroys the right wings platform.
Then my wife and I sat down next to the mayor and a city councilman, both of whom support healthcare reform.
Almost immediately, when Inslee began talking, the heckling began. Inslee brought up a figure of there being nearly a third of Americans who didn't have sufficient healthcare and a heckler called out "That's a lie!"
I was surprised that it was MY voice that bellowed out immediately (and I've been told I missed my calling as a drill sergeant) "YOU"RE THE LIAR!"
Not the most brilliant thing to say. I hope people understood I was addressing the heckler and not Inslee. Inslee then diffused the situation by saying that we didn't want this to devolve into a shouting match and most of the crowd cheered.
But I must say, that nipped the wingnut game plan in the bud. It was nearly two thirds of the way through the townhall before they got started with any kind of organized heckling again and that was again cut short. That time, I wasn't the only one getting right back in their faces.
I'm sorry, but I can't give a good chronological account of the discussion so I'll just go with what sticks out in my mind afterwards.
Inslee was asked if he'd sign The Pledge to support a robust public option. He refused. Now before you get up in arms - and I am very disappointed with him about this - don't despair, Inslee made it crystal clear he is fully supportive of the public option and he stated firmly he will vote for it. He says he won't sign the pledge because he doesn't believe he should be inflexibly bound by ideology when he doesn't know if something else could arise that didn't include a public option that he would feel to be a satisfactory solution.
I trust Inlee just barely enough to take him at his word that he IS with us on a robust public option. Of course, he better walk the walk and not just talk the talk, we WILL be watching!
Other highlights included the standing ovation on BOTH occasions when citizens said they wished the Democrats would grow spines.
A general practice physician got a standing ovation when he said that our government was the solution because We The People are our government. "well said!" responded Inlsee.
One of my favorite moments came after Inslee had taken several wingnut questions and was always very respectful, but finally he had to point out that he listened to talk show radio just like everyone else and he had to wonder "What planet do these people come from?"
That brought a huge standing ovation.
We've all heard all the wingnut talking points well enough that I won't bother you with details of wingnuts stepping up and babbling out their misinformation and paranoid delusions. And we've all heard the insurance horror stories so I won't tell the heart breaking stories that were told to us today, But what I will do is make a couple of political observations.
I always remember Rommels dictum for war: Attack the enemy where they are weak, never attack into their strenghts.
The right is weakest when they try to push the absurd death panels or the criticism that they don't want some nameless person deciding their healthcare for them. This is their most indefensible "concern" because it is a simple matter to point out that death panels and strangers deciding who gets healthcare and who doesn't are the insuracne ocmpanies and they are already doing those exact things to us. I would have liked Inslee to have brought this up.
One of the wingnuts said he didn't want the government to invade our privacy and have all our medical records. This got a big ovation from the wingnuts. Otherwise I would have shouted for the second time today: "This is about healthcare, not the Patriot Act!" Instead, I just turned to the mayor when the cheering died and loudly asked why this man was talking about the Patriot Act, which got several laughs and nods.
However, I'd have to say that this is one of their strenghths. People do not want the government intruding anymore into their private lives. Pointing out that the wingnuts are hypocrites about this issue is a response that has legs, however, a stronger response than that is needed to assure the public in general that the government won't be collecting a health database on its citizens. Not only that, but the insurance industry should be denied such a database as well.
A strength of ours that came under attack was when one wingnut said he didn't want government in his healthcare and Inslee responded that if anyone didn't want Medicare, they didn't have to take it. If anyone didn't want the public option, they didn't have to take it either. The rights response, and it has resonance that must be addressed, is that they still had to pay for the public option whether they wanted it or not.
This is a resonant argument to many Americans. Here I felt that Inslee could have done a better job defusing this line of attack. When they started yelling that they shouldn't have to pay for it, he should have come back with the point he'd made many times already: that the public option was being paid for by the payments made by those who chose the public option. Time after time he had said that those using the public option would be the ones who paid for it. Now, I don't see how this is possible, but if it is so, he should have taken that talking point away from them right then and there.
However, I believe much of the public option gets paid for by raising taxes on the top 1% and Inslee said something to that effect as the touwnhall began. So it is obvious that Inslee was not prepared for this line of attack.
Anyways, sorry that I'm probably leaving a lot out, hope others can add even more.