Pelosi and Hoyer Try to Shush the Shouters

August 10, 2009

The two top Democrats in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, have escalated the war of words over health care reform, calling some of the behavior of protesters at town hall events across the country “un-American.”


“It is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue,” the pair wrote in a Monday op-ed for USA Today. “These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted “Just say no!” drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.”


“These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” they continued.

Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, responded in a statement that “according to the Democratic leadership, if you oppose an increase in healthcare costs, massive deficits, and higher taxes, you are ‘un-American.’”


He added that “Democrats have reduced themselves to the hateful and unproductive rhetoric they once excoriated” and “are realizing that their outrageous health care takeover agenda is putting them at odds with the very people who elected them.”


The Times’ Ian Urbina has examined some of the incidents that have occurred at recent town halls, including those mentioned by Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Hoyer.


Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat from Arkansas, backtracked last week after calling protesters un-American. And other congressional Democrats have defended protesters, stressing that their anger is not manufactured.
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