Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., gave health-care town hall attendees in Lake Elmo, Minn., not only something to think about in her comments condemning President Obama’s government health-care plan, but also something to smile over when she zinged a heckler with an impromptu remark that elicited uproarious laughter from the crowd.
Bachmann had been arguing, “I would far prefer to have American medical care than I would health care in the U.K. any day of the week,” a comment which brought cheers and applause from the approximately 400 who squeezed into a junior high school auditorium to hear her speak, with another roughly 400 watching via closed-circuit in the school’s cafeteria.
But when she held up a stack of papers she claimed were headline reports from U.K. newspapers carrying stories of poor health care under socialized medicine, an unidentified man attempted to interrupt.
Bachmann was in the middle of highlighting a story about 4,000 U.K. women forced by a lack of hospital beds to give birth in hospital hallways, when the heckler became too loud to ignore.
“That happens here!” the heckler shouted.
“Not here,” Bachmann attempted to argue.
When the heckler insisted she was wrong, Bachmann responded with an impromptu zinger:
“I’ve given birth here probably more times than you, sir,” she said.
The gathered crowd erupted in laughter.
Video of the exchange can be seen below:
Like many of the town halls held by lawmakers in recent weeks, Bachmann’s gathering was attended a feisty crowd prepared to cheer, boo or protest the increasingly controversial issue of the government’s involvement in health care.
Unlike many of the town halls, however, Bachmann didn’t meet with constituents in attempt to sell the president’s plan for health-care reform; instead, she voiced her opposition to it.
“As August winds down, Congress will soon be back in Washington trying to slap together an expensive health-care overhaul,” her website states. “And whether it entails a ‘public option’ or ‘co-op,’ a government take over of our health-care system is simply unacceptable.”
She continued that theme in Lake Elmo:
“Let’s not destroy what truly is the greatest health-care system the world has ever known,” Bachmann argued, a point that was greeted with outbursts from both sides, but unlike many of the town halls, the cheers drowned out the boos.
“What Washington is doing a lot right now is saying, ‘Trust me, just trust me,’” Bachmann summarized. “The American people are saying, ‘We don’t trust you.’”
As WND has reported, Americans have been flocking to lawmakers’ health-care town hall meetings, typically voicing loud displeasure with the ever-expanding size of the federal government and what many see as yet another intrusive expansion.
All across the country, legislators coming to their home districts in attempt to sell the health-care plan to constituents are being met with fierce opposition and huge crowds:
In Mehlville, Mo., protesters lined up around the block of the Bernard Middle School gym where Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., had planned a public forum. When hundreds were left standing on the street, they remained outside into the evening. Eventually, a union representative reportedly assaulted one of the protesters, Kenneth Gladney, which lead to six arrests, including a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. Gladney later appeared in an interview on the Fox News Channel explaining the attack, which drew national attention.
A video posted on YouTube, one of many from around the country, reportedly shows several hundreds standing outside in a stunningly long line, waiting to get into a packed town hall meeting on health care with Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
At a health-care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., in July, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police.
Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla.
Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were “refused an opportunity” to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello, D-Va., a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.
The constituents of Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., unable to access their representative through a town hall meeting, created a video charging that Tanner has met with Michael Moore and Fidel Castro, “But he won’t meet his constituents in the 8th District to talk about health care.”
The biggest source of protests are the health-care bill, the $787 billion economic stimulus package and the cap-and-trade legislation. They’re also angry about Barack Obama’s refusal to release his birth certificate to prove he is a “natural born citizen” and constitutionally eligible to serve in the White House.
According to an Associated Press report, Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, showed Senators in D.C. video of some of the boisterous town-hall meetings and discussed how to respond to disruptions.
“It’s a challenge, no question about it, and you’ve got to get out there and make the case,” Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said afterward. “This is not the time for the faint-hearted.”