Sorry, Nurse, My Blood Pressure’s Unusually High This Evening

by on Aug.12, 2009, under Los Angeles, Politics

The Los Angeles Times:

Hundreds of people spent the night outside the Forum in Inglewood in hopes of getting free medical and dental care.

More than 2,000 sought services on the first day of the medical clinic — and hundreds were turned away. People were lined up Tuesday night, hoping to get in. The MTA announced it was extending service of Line 115 because of “overwhelming demand” for service to the clinic, which runs for eight days.

The Remote Area Medical Foundation is a trailer-equipped service that has staged health clinics in rural parts of the United States, Mexico and South America. It brought its health camp to urban Los Angeles County on Tuesday to begin a stint that the group’s officials described as its first foray into a major urban setting.

We are all Appalachia now. This would recall the time that Hugo Chavez sent heating oil via CITGO to poor New England families, except that the Remote Area Medical Foundation isn’t twitting the United States government. They’re just going where the poor people are, which happens to be, as Steve Lopez had it, “in the land of palm-shaded mansions.”

No, they’re not trying to make a political point. Is anyone? Certainly not the Democratic representatives who have been eaten alive in town halls over the past few days. These displays yield nothing but the vague hope that the cradle-to-grave racist id of the GOP will fly its freak flag too proudly and drive a few snobs into the reform camp.

I’m not dismissive of all types of political theatre, just of this defensive, too-clever prayer for backlash. The town halls were supposed to be an argument over health care. They have become an argument over town halls. A victory at this point would be getting people to shut up and behave, and it would be a hollow, procedural victory.

So why not stage the town hall meetings in traveling health clinics?

This would put members of Congress in the enviable position of bringing their constituents services they actually need. People who actually need better health insurance would wedge their way into the debate, which is currently dominated by an appeal to those who already enjoy health insurance and seek reassurance that reform won’t hurt them.

In the current scenario, the teabaggers yell “Don’t Kill Trig,” Organizing for America yells back, “Let Him Speak!”, and the media calls a pox on both their houses. A debate in a health care context, on the other hand, would require opponents of reform to make their case in front of people whose lives are at stake.

And who knows? Someone might catch a richly deserved cold.

Video: Sarah Palin only got it two-thirds right. It’s not “Death Panels,” it’s “Death Star Panels”.

UPDATE: Until someone runs with this idea, Cruickshank at Calitics advises you how to win a town hall.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Joshua Malbin

    I really don’t understand what the purpose of the “town halls” was supposed to be in the first place, especially once it became clear that no one would yet know what was going to be in the bill. You can’t have an argument over a health care policy that hasn’t been formally proposed yet. It’s not like Congress is doing what Obama ran on (and that’s a good thing, because Obama’s health care plan during the campaign was crap).

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