When I heard that U.S. Representative Jim McDermott was coming into the Park today to discuss healthcare, I thought it was possible (just slightly) that he might run into one of those adversarial "town hall" situations we've all been hearing about. After all, the House only recently (and barely) passed what could become landmark healthcare legislation, and a lot of people have some pretty strong opinions on the subject.
It was not a tough crowd, however, that turned out at Park Shore early this morning to hear our congressman speak about the history of efforts since Teddy Roosevelt's day to increase the federal government's role in American healthcare and to defend his position in favor of the House's bill (which is now awaiting a verdict in the Senate). Most in the audience were residents of Park Shore, although there was a sprinkling of other people from the neighborhood who responded to the "Everyone is Welcome" call.
McDermott, with 11 terms in Congress and a long history in State politics, is an old trooper--and he handled even the very few hostile questions ("Why don't you care about the deficit, Mr. McDermott?"') with good humor and tact. As for his vote in favor of the legislation, he said that "to do nothing is not acceptable." While admitting that the bill is far from perfect, he said "you have to start somewhere."
Best three-line dialogue:
Audience member: "I don't think we can trust you guys in government to be in charge of our healthcare."
Response: "Would you like to see the government get out of Medicare and take it private?"
Audience member: "...ah...No."
It was not quite the knock-down-drag-out event I was hoping for, but that's probably just as well. More informative for sure.