Democrats recess looking like a bad trip!

on . Posted in Patriot News Network

WASHINGTON - August 4, 2009 - Angry protesters shouted down Democrats at public events from Texas to Pennsylvania over the weekend, leaving the party only one real hope for getting its message out over recess: a backlash.

In Austin, Texas, Rep. Lloyd Doggett was drowned out by a group of noisy, sign-waving demonstrators who shouted, “Just say no” as he tried to talk about health care reform.

In an e-mail to POLITICO Monday, Doggett called the group a “mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties” that “came not just to be heard but to deny others the right to be heard.”

In Morrisville, Pennsylvania, Rep. Patrick Murphy was forced to scrap plans for a one-on-one meet-the-congressman session when people in the crowd started shouting. Murphy switched to a town hall format mid-event and even then had to ask the audience at times to “be respectful.”

At a health care event in Philadelphia, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penna.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were repeatedly interrupted by booing and heckling. “We can shout at one another, or we can leave the stage,” Sebelius said at one point. “It’s up to you.”

For Democrats, that’s precisely the problem. Their ability to make their case on health care at public events during the August recess is mostly in the hands of the people who turn out for the events. If those people want to be disruptive - especially en masse - there’s not much the Democrats can do about it.

“Town halls have become town hells,” said Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush. “Special interests and opponents have figured out how easy it is to disrupt town halls and get out their own messages. The days of the truly free-form town halls may be over.”

Democrat leaders aren’t quite ready to say that yet. Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), said House leaders are urging their members to continue holding public sessions, even if it means they’ll be shouted down and have it all replayed on YouTube.

“We have encouraged our members to use everything in their arsenal to communicate with their constituents,” said Thornell. “They know what works best in their districts. More than anything, they have to stay on the offense and not get distracted by stupid Republican gimmicks.”

The Republicans aren’t exactly apologetic.

“As some members of Speaker Pelosi’s party are already learning, it’s hard to heed her orders to ‘go on offense’ when you’re busy defending such unpopular policies,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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