Town Hall Meetings and The Eddie Haskell Factor

Who, Me, Mrs. Cleaver?

I actually did watch a bit of TV when I was a kid, but we were only limited to a few channels because I was growing up “B.C.”  Before Cable, the isolated areas of the country were lucky to receive waves from one broadcaster.  In Hallock we were in reach of CBS and CTV from Winnipeg, NBC from Grand Forks and, when the weather conditions were welcoming, we would pull in ABC and CBS from Fargo.  We viewed our reruns of other networks thanks to KCND from an independent in Pembina.

In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, a superstation from Atlanta bought its way onto the cable outlets, and WTBS broadened even further our access to reruns of 1950s and 1960s shows I hadn’t seen as a kid.  I honestly don’t remember the original run of Leave it to Beaver. In fairness, I was way too young to remember it, being only two years old when its final episode aired.  My recall of the show is based on reruns.

We all have the reruns to thank for some of the cultural icons that have arisen from the show, and the character of Eddie Haskell is one of its major contributions to our society.  Eddie was the Beav’s burden.  Eddie’s mischief often caused the young and vulnerable Beaver Cleaver (an IRC sex channel “handle” if ever there was one) to get into gobs of trouble.   Each time Beaver would explain that he had fallen for one of Eddie’s tricks, Haskell would suck up to Mrs. Cleaver with an innocent face and, with modesty oozing from his voice, utter a sweet, “I would never do anything like that, Mrs. Cleaver.”

In the wake of the most egregious examples of attacks on Democrats and the President at town hall meetings on the presumed subject of health care and the bill before Congress, at which events people have shown up with guns, have drawn Hitler mustaches on pictures of Obama, have hung in effigy the President and other Democratic representatives, have shouted down in concert anyone who asks a serious question about the bill and turned the town hall process into a mockery, the right are now responding to the media glare with the Eddie Haskell approach.  “I would never do anything like that, America.”  We are now to believe that those whose missions were to disrupt the meetings and prevent any sort of discussion of the bill were just ordinary citizens exercising their right to speak out.  They’re just ordinary people.

There is no question that the first disruptions were encouraged by insurance lobbyists and pharmacy lobbysists, as “AstroTurf” activists bused around from state to state create the impression that a grassroots movement against Obama is sweeping the country.  They are the last defenders in a Red Dawn against the foreign-born, secretly Muslim, fascist-socialist, anti-white racist usurper in the White House.  If they don’t stop him and his lackeys now, it won’t be long before they are rounded up into a new gulag of internment camps. (Yes, Jason, there are Canadian Wingnuts, too.)

The AstroTurf is getting less expensive now, as the message has gotten through to people who only pay partial attention.  They take Betsy McCaughey’s word when she says that an advanced care directive will lead to doctors getting more favorable ratings and thus higher fees if they encourage patients to forego heroic measures, which is more simply stated as, “Obama wants to kill special-needs kids and Grandma!”  So, their strategy has worked, and as they now disavow any connection to the disruptors, they are turning themselves loose on the Representatives who are dismissive of the kooks at the mike.  “That Barney Frank, he was so rude to a constituent.  Who The Hell does he think he is?!”  Never mind that the constituent was holding up a picture of the president with a Hitler mustache and had asked why Frank supported fascism?  I think Frank insulted dining room tables in this incident.

The events are now being populated by people who have bought into the distorted analyses of HR 32oo, and are genuinely confused at to what the bill includes and what it doesn’t include.  They are now being populated by people genuinely concerned about the deficit (but one wonders where they were when George Bush was out there cutting taxes for the wealthy and raising spending to create the mess we are in).  They are people who are now against a bill that would, in fact, help them, because they have heard the noise and the noise frightens them.

So, as a liberal who has been watching the conservatives and the insurance industry lobbyists play chess against the progressives in Congress using the public as pawns, I wonder what to do next.  I know that many liberals want to continue walking the high road and to patiently review the bill with people who don’t really get it but are accepting the easy answers.

On Thursday, August 27th, 2009 there will be a town hall meeting in Lake Elmo.  The Representative who will be taking the questions?  Why, none other than our dear friend from the 6th District.

Michele Bachmann Town Hall (Health Care Organizing Event)
It is so important for us to have a good showing at this event. The event will discuss health care. Bachmann is bringing Congressman Burgess from Texas. Burgess is a Republican and has been a doctor for over 21 years. Please be there at 1pm at the northeast corner of the parking lot. The doors open at 1:30, and we are hoping to fill in the front rows. Also please wear Obama, Franken etc. attire. Please have a question already formulated in case you get called on.
Time: Thursday, August 27 from 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Host: Gail Harless
Oak-Land Junior High School (Lake Elmo, MN)

820 Manning Avenue North
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
Directions: Manning exit off of 94, north on Manning
Associated Groups: Face to Face for Change – Twin Cities, Feminist Advisory Board for Obama, Obama Works Twin Cities, Shoreview (Northeast suburbs), MN for Barack Obama, USA.CAN

One could think that this would be a good time to go and disrupt the disruptors. I plan on showing up early, but I may stay outside during the event. I will confront any crazies (but not one of the ones who may be brandishing a gun at me). I would like to egg some of them on, to draw out their insanity. But I don’t plan on interrupting or causing a ruckus during the actual meeting itself. I would like to be able to vent my frustrations at the people who have turned a provision for advanced care directives into a plan to have death panels making decisions for people.

No, the disruption and the shouting belong outside, in the parking lot before the event. Those “Eddie Haskells,” who are just exercising their rights to voice their concerns over threats that don’t exist, need to be ridiculed. They need to be taken to task for spreading fear, lest observers think that they have actual points to make.

The election of November 2008 was not the end of the political process for progressives. Yes, our guy got in. Yes, the Democrats held a majority. But not all Democrats are liberal, not all Democrats are clear on the relationship between campaign donations and their responsibilities towards the citizenry as a whole. They say that in order to get a deal with the Republicans, both single-payer and public option plans must be off the table, and cost-containment must be the key issue that will solve the crisis.

Those in our party who seek to obstruct the President’s plan in order to work out a compromise, to get some sort of reform through this fall, need to see rallies in support of a true reform of health insurance and one that includes a way for the great unwashed to have affordable access to health care. We need also to shout down those who make invalid claims about the systems in Canada, Britain, Japan, Germany and Austria, and most especially the French system.

Here’s a little story to remind you why this is an issue:

Yesterday, I went to get my haircut, and I was eavesdropping on the conversation between the operator and the customer in the next stall. “Destinee” was telling her customer that on a Friday night a week ago she and her boyfriend were at a bonfire party. He fell into the fire, and and an ambulance was called to take him in. The EMTs dressed his wounds, and in the emergency room, they were recleaned and bandaged. The ER doctor estimated that he would need at least two weeks in hospital.

Abruptly, things changed when the administrative staff discovered he wasn’t covered by any insurance. The nurses came into his room and told him that he was being sent home. Destinee asked for some instructions on how to clean and rebandage the wound, but apparently that would be a billable service, so they simply told her that she needed to change the dressing twice a day. He went home.

By Monday last week, the pain from the burns was so intense that he had to go back to the ER. This time they had no choice but to admit him, because his wounds had become massively infected. They admitted him to the ICU, and because of the danger he is in, visitors must be super-scrubbed clean in order to see him. Could this have been prevented had he been admitted right off? Perhaps not, but more likely he would have been closely monitored by trained professionals and not left to luck at the untrained hands of a 23-year-old hairdresser.

He just didn’t have coverage, and they couldn’t find a verifiable source of payment for the expensive care he needed, so they sent him home and now they have a much larger problem. The Republican reaction is to say “Boo hoo hoo. It’s not my problem, it’s his. Tough luck, kid!” The Republican reaction is to brandish guns and accuse the president, who is actually using the legislative system as it was intended, of being a Nazi. (Wait, she was a Democrat plant sent there to make the Republicans look bad. Because, you know, the Republicans are the reasoned ones and would never call a Jew a “Nazi!”)

My reaction is to first mock the crazies. I may take a water gun or a toy pistol to the rally before the event. But if I go inside to the rally, I will be respectful, and if I get the opportunity to ask the Rep or the doctor a question, I will ask about the wisdom of leaving stand a broken system that sends a young man home to get severe infections because he couldn’t pay his bill.

I think even Eddie Haskell would have to agree with Mrs. Cleaver that this needs to have a sensible solution. No more “Who me?”

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2 Responses to “Town Hall Meetings and The Eddie Haskell Factor”

  1. August 25th, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Jason Thibeault says:

    (Yes, Jason, there are Canadian Wingnuts, too.)

    A fact of which I’m acutely aware. Our Conservative party has adopted over the past ten years not only the positions, but also the tone and tenor, of your Republicans. I’ll do my best to keep them at bay, but no promises…

    The whole argument smacks heavily of No True Scotsman on the part of the Repubs. Sad, honestly.

  2. August 25th, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Mike Haubrich says:

    Keep at it man. We’ll work the states if you work the provinces.

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