The House passed a health care overhaul that would cost $940 billion over ten years and extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, a signature accomplishment for the Obama Administration. All House Republicans and 35 Democrats voted against the bill, and the atmosphere in the House chambers was raucous and volatile.
There were strong emotions on both sides of the aisle that night.
Anti-abortion Rep. Bart Stupak, a Democrat, had the floor and was advocating for assurance that the health care proposal would not include federal funding for abortions. That’s when Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer screamed “baby killer” at Stupak, a move that brought swift condemnation. So much for preserving what little shred of decorum and dignity Congress still has. What’s really odd is the aftermath of Neugebauer’s outburst. Much like South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s condemnation during President Obama’s address to Congress when Wilson shouted “You lie!”, supporters are coming out of the woodwork to congratulate and donate money to Neugebauer.
Seems that emotional outbursts help rake the cash in.
Now if a Democratic lawmaker were to have shouted at former President Bush, or any Republican member of Congress, you’d see calls for that lawmaker to be expelled from Congress and hung from the highest lamppost in Foggy Bottom.
What’s particularly disturbing is the aftermath of this health care vote. Opponents have turned violent and threatened ten Democratic Representatives who voted for the bill.
The district headquarters of Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had bricks thrown through their windows.
Kansas Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver and Dennis Moore both received threats. A caller told Cleaver that he would receive “a bullet to the head,” while Moore received a call from someone promising to drive to his house and do him harm.
Stupak was threatened over the phone several times. One threatening caller said, “I hope you bleed…(get) cancer and die.”
Stupak also received threatening faxes, one depicting him with a noose around his neck that read, “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends either by the hand of man or the hand of God.”
South Carolina Rep. John Clyburn was threatened with a photo of a noose. Clyburn is black, which made sending him an image of a noose even more disturbing.
People who threaten assassination and deface property aren’t patriots. They’re terrorists. I hope the FBI catches these Travis Bickle devotees and ship them to Camp X-Ray where they’ll share cells with their brothers-in-arms. Maybe they can learn bomb-making techniques from a 16-year old Iraqi boy.
But I’m not surprised the Teabaggers use violence and intimidation as an outlet.
Just look at what happened to Bob, a former nuclear engineer with a doctorate from Cornell University who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and went on disability. Bob attended a health care rally in Columbus, Ohio with a sign that read: “Got Parkinson’s? I do and you might. Thanks for helping! That’s community.” Pro-health care bill supporters and Teabaggers clashed and Bob sat down in front of his opponents. I guess it was a silent protest, or Bob just wanted the camera to film him seated in front of a bunch of furious patriots.
Anyway, one of the Teabaggers crouches over Bob and says, “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town. Nothing for free over here, you have to work for everything you get.”
Another Teabagger, who looked like an accountant or insurance rep, started throwing dollar bills at Bob like he was a stripper at Scores.
“I’ll pay for this guy! Here you go! Start a pot! I’ll pay for ya!” he said, and tossed money at Bob. “I’ll decide when to give you money! No more handouts!”
“You love a communist!” another one shouted.
I’ve always found it peculiar that those who profess to understand Jesus are the first ones to behave like the Romans.
All that was missing from the interaction between the Teabaggers and Bob was the crown of thorns. I’m not saying Bob was some kind of messianic figure, but he is disabled and was trying to make people aware of his plight. He shouldn’t be mocked and ridiculed in the public square. Nobody should. Respectful dialog and decorum must win the day because we’re Americans, damn it!
I guess the political paradigm shift is away from Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” to “Government is bad and leave us alone.”
Surely, this is an isolated incident. Only a few bad apples in a vast fruit cart of political dissent, right?
Even before the vote, protestors slung racial epithets at black lawmakers and anti-gay comments at Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Congressman.
Since when did the Teabaggers go from patriotic Americans fighting for freedom and justice to the cross-eyed Klan bumpkins from “Mississippi Burning?” I’m sure George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson didn’t spit at the Hessians and call them the N-word.
What separates the loathsome Teabaggers from the Founding Fathers and those brave minutemen who fought the American Revolution is intelligence and morality. The current bumper crop of sign-waving yahoos are really, really stupid. They’re ignorant sheep who believe unquestioningly in everything Glenn Beck espouses about capitalism and big government squeezing out the citizens and socialist tirades that would give Joe McCarthy’s corpse a wet dream.
The men who founded this country were from varied backgrounds, yet possessed a singular desire to compromise, negotiate and reason. They believed in order and the goodness of the Enlightenment and debated with skill and passion.
They didn’t, as many Teabaggers are doing, regurgitate hackneyed slogans and call the president a “communist,” or a “socialist” or repeat false claims that he was born in Kenya.
Look, I get it. I understand that people should work hard and keep what they earn. I understand it's tough these days to make a living and that the American Dream is slipping away.
But that doesn't give you the right to threaten bodily harm to anyone or smash windows like skinhead hooligans.
This angry, petulant mob won’t desist until members of Congress who don’t agree with their agenda are dead. That’s the kind of bloody revolution a Robespierre or a Stalin might endorse, and the last thing these growling Republican maniacs want is to be compared to the French or the communists.
It’s hard taking anything the Teabaggers say seriously. Sure, the health care bill was a legislative clusterfuck, forged from a year of debating and arguing and back room deals that would make New Jersey politicians embarrassed. And it’s probably unconstitutional to force Americans to but health insurance. Let the courts strike it down like the Supreme Court struck down the New Deal. Let the process work and the checks and balances the Teabaggers apparently don’t understand, work.
If the Teabaggers win, if their sick rebellion unfolds the way they want it, then what kid of place would America be then?
I suspect it would be a country with censorship, conformity and where the rational and reasoned are chastised or worse.
It would be the very place the Founding Fathers fought to change.