By all accounts, last night's town hall meeting on health care reform in Clarkston, hosted by U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-DeKalb, proceeded very amiably. (Presumably, young Tom Wheatley will be posting his account soon.)
Johnson set the tone for the evening when, from the stage, he said, We are here to have an open and respectful dialogue.
In the main auditorium that held 500 people, applause for health care reform clearly outweighed any boos or jeers. Some people attributed that to the demographic of this area.
Some people said there are numerous people in this area who live on the margins and need universal health care.
But among the 1,000 people in a nearby gymnasium where there was a close-circuit feed and among the more than 500 people milling outside, there were active, respectful debates.
Respectful. Civil. And clearly weighted in favor of health care reform. Keep in mind this was in suburban DeKalb.
Over in suburban Augusta, however, with U.S. Rep Paul Broun, R-Fruitloop, setting the tone, it was a different scene, according to the Augusta Chronicle:
Dr. Broun called the pending Democratic legislation an "abomination" and "a stinking rotten fish" and said Democratic efforts are the "steamroll of socialism." He did offer up his own idea for reform, including a Medicare health savings account that would follow the beneficiaries, allowing them to spend what Medicare would have spent on them in their own way.
"America is mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore," said Joyce Jamison of Evans.
The crowds at the Columbia County Board of Education building organizers had to add a second event to accommodate the hundreds of people initially turned away egged him on.
Even more interesting, perhaps, were some of the reader comments. This is from Dixieman:
I used to think he was a little off the beam, but the more I see of him and listen to him, the more I like and respect him! He is 100% right on this issue and is going to get my support and enthusiastic vote in 2010.
A little off the beam? Son, Broun is in another dimension! When people start making sense of crazy, that's worrisome. Fortunately, there are more level heads in Augusta:
The man (Broun) is a lunatic and an obstructionist with no viable ideas of his own. I would have been there, outnumbered, if I didn't have a very sick dog at home. Have you looked at his voting record? He votes "No" for everything, and I mean every piece of legislation that comes up for a vote. He truly represents the wacko fringe ... or what would be considered the wacko fringe outside the South. Here, lunacy appears to be mainstream.
I couldn't have put it better myself, HotFoot. Yes, Broun is the original Dr. No, the Bobby Franklin of the Congressional delegation. Obviously, this issue is going to get much more heated.
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