Today I managed to attend one of the town halls sponsored by a key critic of the Democrats' health care reform, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Well, I wasn't there in person, only in spirit -- thanks to a live web broadcast starting at noon via WSPA-TV. They covered his second town hall of the day, as he stood on a platform outside the Beacon Restaurant in Spartanburg.
The crowd was almost universally supportive, even worshipful, with one attendee hailing him for being considered the most conservative senator of all, and another urging him to run for president (he said he was "too smart" for that). The lies and misinformation that came both from the crowd and the stage probably exceeded what many might have imagined. And DeMint denounced the one person who pressed him with a tough question, saying she had come "fully" loaded with "Democratic talking points."
The same thing happened earlier in the day at his town hall in Greenville, when a woman raised some critical questions. DeMint referred to them as "talking points." Don't expect him to be criticized on Fox, a la Barney Frank, for "putting down" an attendee.
Also at Greenville he referred to the suspension of the cash for clunkers programs and asked, "what if the government had to suspend all surgeries'?
Here are some of the highlights of the Spartanburg town hall.
- DeMint said that if the Democrats' plan goes through "hundreds of millions will lose Medicare" coverage.
- One guy said insurance companies are NOT making big profits--only like 6% --and Obama was telling lies about it. DeMint agreed that profits not excessive.
- DeMint said "non-partisan" analysts agree "a hundred million" will lose insurance at their jobs under Obama plan.
- A woman quoted "Jewish spokesman" Ben Stein as tracing the decline of America to taking prayer out of school. She declared that America was a "Christian" nation. DeMint said, "I can't add anything to that."
- Another woman said she had a relative in London "who is dead because of national health care." And willing to document it.
- When a questioner said that the Democrats wanted to cover illegals, DeMint said it sure looked that way and would no doubt happen if not checked.
- A man said he wanted an ethics probe of David Axelrod, but did not say why. DeMint said a real concern but didn't want to get into it because "I am not partisan."
- Finally, a woman stood up and politely asked why he continually put down government programs while also backing insurance companies. He quickly accused her of coming "loaded" with "Democratic talking points" as the crowd hooted.