Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama Drumming Up Support on Healthcare Reform in His Own "Town Hall" Format

Obama took to the states this week in an effort to dissuade what has become ravenous dissent and disinformation from conservative groups stacking town hall meetings with rancor and discord:

Obama assailed "wild misrepresentations" of his health care plan Tuesday during a town hall-style meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., taking on the role of fact-checker-in-chief for his top domestic priority. It's a strategy he will employ at two more town halls this week in Montana and Colorado, and on the White House Web site.
Just goes to show that the Campaigner-in-Chief has never stopped campaigning. Of course, when you are up against a majority of the nation, 44% of which strongly oppose the measures, it takes a lot of propaganda to push one of the most controversial reforms (other than SS benefits) in the past few decades.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that opposition to the plan has increased to 53%, up nine points since late June.

More significantly, 44% of voters strongly oppose the health care reform effort versus 26% who strongly favor it. Intensity has been stronger among opponents of the plan since the debate began.

Now, I'll be the first to point out that the disinformation goes both ways; Democrats have been overly vague and optimistic about the reform proposals, while Republicans and conservatives have done little more than pick up their anti-socialism pitchforks. One problem is that much of the conversation has centered around the CBO estimates (which the White House is not too happy about) which place the cost of H.R. 3200 at approximately $1 trillion over 10 years. Another problem is that the media has also placed too much emphasis on rationing, and the scare of "Death Panels." All in all, not too many people are aware of exactly what H.R. 3200 actually stands for.

This has led to the well intentioned, but poorly managed, town hall maelstroms that congresspersons have been dealing with lately. Of course, when you're the President, you don't have to deal with the average local; why not just stack the "town hall" meeting?

Even some in the White House press corps are upset about it:
It’s fair enough for Presidents to hold Town Hall meetings and to pretend that he’s taking questions from something other than an infomercial audience. But it is phony, the stuff of campaign commercials. The White House press corps is right to challenge the pretense that a legitimate give-and-take represented as a news event is being held when it’s a sham.
Whether or not this will work is uncertain. However, even if Obama's "town halls" are crap, they still are likely to get great press coverage, and positive at that since he won't have to endure the inconvenience of public dissent.

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