Health Wars

Town-Hall Clashes Escalate

A series of town-hall meetings disrupted by anti-reform citizens has Democratic leadership crying foul. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid characterized town-hall dissenters as "loud, shrill voices trying to interrupt" and "throw a monkey wrench into everything." Both the White House and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi say the dissent is being "manufactured" by political and corporate organizations; Pelosi dismisses town-hall dissent as "astroturf," or artificially generated faux-grassroots movements. Regardless of their inspiration, however, the citizen protesters mean business: ABC's Steven Portnoy reports that, at a town-hall event for freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD), the congressman faced an image of himself, hung in effigy, and enraged, booing crowds. Portnoy reports that a visibly unnerved Kratovil "pleaded" with constituents; a Blue Dog Democrat, Kratovil is officially "undecided" on his health-care position. At least one congressman—Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC)—has been forced to forgo the town-hall format after a threat on his life forced staffers to clamp down on public access to the congressman.