When people rally against the Republicans for actually trying to destroy Medicare and replacing it with a health care coupon program, the people of course are nothing more than brutish populist thugs. Ironically it's Taliban Dan Webster, the man who took down Alan Grayson, who's getting the town hall treatment.
A town hall meeting held in Orlando by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster degenerated into bedlam Tuesday, with members of the crowd shouting down the freshman Republican congressman and yelling at one another.
It was the last of a series of town hall meetings Webster has hosted during Congress' spring recess, which ends Monday. While the others were civil and largely uneventful, the 300 people at Tuesday's meeting were so raucous they were scolded by a police officer to act "like grown people."
Webster tried to go over a series of charts showing growing levels of federal spending and debt, and the reason he supports the federal budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. But he was interrupted at every turn by shouts from his critics, including members of progressive groups such as Moveon.org and Organize Now.
Boos and shouts of "liar" were mixed with angry accusations that Ryan's plan to change Medicare would leave those now under 55 without health insurance in their retirement, calls to eliminate the tax cuts first put in place by former President Bush and the need to raise corporate taxes rather than cut entitlement programs.
The people in that audience have families and a lot of problems. And they know of many more who are worse off. Maybe it's $4 a gallon gas and the fact they haven't had a raise in three years. Maybe it's that they know a good person from church who's been laid off after working for 20 years at the office, been out of work now over 10 months and can't find anything close to the job they had that will pay for their kids at college, and the church is helping them now (and they avoid eye contact with everyone else.) Maybe it's the sister who admitted last month she and her husband are now on food stamps and have been since last June, and they were too mortified to show up at Easter dinner this year.
There's a lot of real anger out there, tea party or not. But here's the difference between now and the town halls of 2009:
Others in the crowd began yelling at Webster's critics to quiet down, at one point with the chant "Let him talk!" But the meeting frequently devolved into multiple arguments — some of them heated — between members of audience.
When one man who said he was a veteran yelled that he wanted to know why Webster was cutting Medicare and veterans' benefits, his answer came from the audience instead.
"We can't afford it, you moron!" a red-faced man screamed.
And the Republican plan to have us fight each other rather than the band together and fight them is working better than even the GOP and the corporate masters who control them could have ever hoped. Keep that in mind when the Republicans attack the people at the town hall meetings as thugs and worse.
As Digby points out, it wasn't progressives who changed the rules.