Here's Rush Holt (D-NJ) on Rush Holt:
"As a scientist and teacher I take a distinctive approach to representing people - first I listen to people to understand their concerns, next I look at the facts and then I get to work to get results," said Holt. "I don't let partisanship crowd out evidence and thought."
Oooh, a scientist! Can't you hear the elitism drip like pancake syrup? But people ain't particles, Congressman, and you're full of sh*t. Here's one take on Rush Holt's town hall meeting last night, in which he saw 238 of his constituents (leaving at least twice that many out in the heat):
His basic premise is that for the “majority of Americans the system is broken” and what he wants is to “impose elevated national standards” on insurance companies and eliminate things like lifetime caps on coverage and co-pays and to “require insurance companies to spend 85% of the premiums they receive on health care.”
He feels that people are not well served by their insurance companies now and he believes that we will be better served by the government forcing companies to “compete in an insurance store” (This seemed to be his answer to all of our problems; he said it so often that it got to be a running joke in the group of folks I happened to be sitting with)
...sounds like he already had his mind made up, and wasn't prepared to do much "listening":
His answers were fairly consistent, and always contained one or more of the following: “Medicare savings will pay for it”, “insurance store”, or, my personal favorite, “maybe”, which was the answer always given when the question was the type that you or I would answer “yes” or “no” to, although at one point he did say “it remains to be seen how much savings there will be.”
He was asked “why are we moving so fast” to which he replied that “the country won’t recover if we are saddled with these health care costs; time is of the essence; it’s not happening fast enough.” Not having a PhD in physics I am unable to grasp the concept of how spending trillions and creating a massive new bureaucracy “unsaddles” those costs....
And the truth comes out from our friendly progressives in the audience:
There was a rather revealing moment in a subsequent question along these lines, which asked “why are you forcing this plan on us?” and the response from the more vocal supporters of the plan was “because we won the election!”
Incidentally, Holt only took pre-written (pre-selected) questions from the audience. Which leads to this Asbury Park-Press headline:
Holt's town hall keeps tight rein on audience
Nice way to listen to your constituents, right Rush? Sharply limit the number by choosing a tiny venue, then pre-screen the questions. The Park-Press is skeptical:
With the auditorium's capacity at 258 people, it didn't take long for the space to get filled and for hundreds of people to be left outside.
Unlike at other town hall meetings related to health care, where several sessions were held to allow everyone a chance inside, only one session was held on Wednesday.
Charles Gizzi walked out of the meeting long before it was over. Outside, the Middletown resident said that Holt was not responding to the questions, only saying what he felt like saying.
"There's no flexibility from (Holt)," said Gizzi, 78, who is concerned health care reform would negatively impact him. "Apparently, (Holt) is going to do what he wants."
Holt has always done what he wants - not what the residents of his district want - which is what gives him an 86% rating on the "progressive" meter. But he's got some good competition this year - and one of them took advantage of his shifty venue selection:
Some of the hundreds of people who could not make it inside the Middletown Arts Center spoke their minds during a rally held outside by Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre, who intends to challenge Holt in 2010.
A report from the Halfacre rally:
... Halfacre spoke briefly on HR3200. Halfacre's assertion that we needed to take a scalpel to the health care system, not a sledgehammer, was met with cheers, as were many of his remarks about the bill, which the mayor had printed and available for review.
After his comments, Mayor Halfacre invited anyone who wanted to speak to line up and have their turn at the microphone. He asked the crowd to be civil and respectful, and, when they jeered at pro-HR3200 supporters, repeatedly encouraged respect and consideration for both sides.This was a difficult forum. While about ninety percent of the people who spoke were against the bill, as is Halfacre, the mayor listened to every single person in that line, standing in the near dark until almost nine o'clock last night to make sure that everyone who wanted to be heard had their say, whether he agreed with them or not.
Last night, while Rush Holt hid inside taking pre-written questions from 238 people, Mike Halfacre rolled up his sleeves, stood in front of all the people who were left out, and listened to what each and every person had to say. He listened carefully, quieted the crowd to allow people to have their turn, and never lost his cool.
Holt must be vulnerable, as the able Halfacre will have a Republican primary opponent in former Holmdel Mayor Alan Bateman- who ran against Holt in '06 and got killed, and deservedly so. Invisible, with no district presence to this day (why hasn't Bateman ever done an event like Halfacre's ?), it took me quite a bit of research to even find out who was running against Holt (good job, Republican party of New Jersey!) in the 12th.
But back to Holt. A man who obviously considers himself an intellectual superior to his constituents, and who enjoys constantly strong re-election prospects due to a bizarrely redrawn district map, he's not listening to the people he represents at all. He's the lifetime academic and government employee, dictating to his people what he intends to do, with little to no realization how it will affect the lives of the middle classes he pretends to represent.
Time to send Rush Holt back to the Princeton particle accelerators, where theory and practice collide less than they do in the real world.
In the meantime, let's see if Halfacre has what it takes...