I recorded about half of Jim Moran’s town hall meeting from C-SPAN Tuesday night and just finished watching it. Am I missing something, or are these things a total waste of time? Have they always been this animated or is this a recent development?
It looked to me like average Americans were severely under-represented in the town hall audience. (By which I mean, people who get up and go to work every day and don’t spend all their time actively engaged in changing public opinion.) Everyone in attendance looked like a Democratic or Republican activist there for the sole purpose of getting on camera with a sign or getting their hands on a microphone so they could deliver their “message.” Nobody was the slightest bit interested in “debate.” Certainly nobody was going to change their opinion on health care reform because of that meeting.
I thought Jim Moran missed some opportunities to nail some questioners. One woman, clearly opposing health care reform, said something like, “I have friends in France (or wherever) on socialized healthcare and trust me, it isn’t working.” She was playing to the crowd, which responded by erupting in applause for like an hour. (Most of the questioners seemed to enjoy the attention they got.) I would have liked to see Moran respond to her with some tough questions like, “What isn’t working? Why isn’t it working? What were your friends doing?” Because you know that woman would have stumbled and bumbled and been all like, “um.. well.. you know.. I didn’t really ask them.. but it definitely wasn’t working so just shut up you damn socialist!”
One questioner (a supporter, I think) spoke great wisdom when he chastised the media for emphasizing the controversy surrounding the bill instead of the substance and policies of the bill itself. I would hope that all political parties could band together and agree with that. (If not, then there’s definitely no hope for America.)
I thought it was interesting that you could see tons of people running around with their little cell phone cameras taking pictures and video all over the place. (Based on the number of videos on YouTube afterward, I would estimate that roughly half the crowd was there just to record and post it.) Everyone’s still looking for the elusive video clip that’s going to dominate the news and drive public opinion.
It was enlightening (in a disturbing sort of way). Jim Moran and Howard Dean handled themselves pretty well considering the general unrest. But overall I think America would be much better off if people did a lot less talking and a lot more listening.