The auditorium at Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo was nearly filled to capacity an hour before the main attraction was slated to appear. A couple hundred additional folks gathered to watch the proceedings on a television screen in the school’s cafeteria. If by no other standard than attendance, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s first town hall meeting on health care reform was a smashing success.
The 6th district Republican has been railing against Democratic plans to dramatically reshape the country’s beleaguered health care system for weeks. She’s decried the proposals as somehow being unconstitutional and advocated prayer and fasting to defeat the measures. Thursday’s gathering featured similarly heated rhetoric.
“Let’s not destroy the greatest health care system the world has ever known,” Bachmann warned.
It was a predominantly Bachmann-friendly crowd. As has been the pattern across the country, there was more heat than illumination. Attendees were required to leave their signs at the door (”Obama care: unborn and elderly beware!”), but similar slogans were parroted at the microphones. It’s doubtful anyone came away with a more nuanced understanding of the legislation that’s actually being debated in Washington. One gentleman suggested that Obama is intent on creating a socialist dictatorship. After stating “I’m not a racist, I’m not a rightwing extremist,” the speaker said he fears Obama will use “brute force” or fraud to stay in office indefinitely. Another woman simply declared her love for Bachmann.
But that’s not to say that the two-term congresswoman didn’t hear from detractors. “I would first like to thank you for turning a Reagan voter into a DFL activist,” stated one attendeee at the beginning of his remarks.
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