First Principles

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What Nancy Pelosi Doesn’t Understand About the Townhall Protesters’ Intentions

August 10th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Nancy Pelosi’s article calling the Obamacare protesters “un-American” is, of course, ridiculous.  It is beyond parody.  If I wrote it word for word under her name as satire, I would be accused of straining hyperbole to beyond all limits and beyond.  Only slightly less absurd are the “factual” claims she makes in the piece.

But that’s been talking-headed to death.  I think the point of all this is being badly missed.

The protesters aren’t trying to drown out debate.  They aren’t trying to debate at all.  They’re there to give instructions to the people who work for them. 


I actually agree that simply trying to “drown out” a speaker you don’t agree with is generally a bad thing in most cases.  Light, not heat, is always the preferred disinfectant.

This is why I was surprised that despite all my Google efforts, I was unable to find any prominent writings or statements by Nancy Pelosi condemning liberal pie throwers on college campuses, or Code Pink’s many attempts to shout out speakers in Congress or at Republican Conventions.  Now, I’ve said before that past failure to call out bad behavior doesn’t preclude proper condemnation in the present, but that still leaves a puzzle as to why Ms. Pelosi hasn’t spoken out strongly against the very NON-organized, non-astroturf SEIU dictates to their members that they go “drown out” citizens who oppose Obamacare.

It’s almost as if her “statement of principle” extends only to her own partisan side!


But this isn’t a debate.  It’s not a college speaker who may offend you, but beyond that has no power over you or your family.  The debate has already been had for most of these folks around their kitchen tables.

It’s not a learning experience.  Most of these people have already done their own research, and they don’t like what they’ve learned.  They don’t expect – nor do they have any reason to expect – that their Congressional representative will illuminate them.  Frankly, if I had to lay odds on which person was more likely to have actually read all or part of one of the health care bills, the protester or the Congressman, I’d feel pretty safe putting my cash on the protester.

(You have to love, too, the assumption contained there – that our Congressional representatives are our Benevolent Betters who deign to come “educate” us on the glories of their Grand Ideas which are, of course, For Our Own Good.  Could she possibly have been more condescending?)

It’s not about instigating violence, as some on the left have absurdly (and given the rhetoric of the Bush years, hypocritically) claimed.  So far, the actual violence at these events has gone strictly one way – Obamacare supporting union goon on skeptical and concerned constituent.

No.  It’s none of these things.  It’s much more like that meeting with the boss when he has to shut the door.  It’s just that neither Pelosi nor Hoyer (nor, I expect, Obama) has every really come to grips with who the “boss” is in this scenario.


Pelosi is right that people are “afraid” of “the facts themselves,” but not in the way she means.  These people (and I count myself among them) are fully aware of the facts of the various proposals, as well as facts concerning history, economics, the frightening deficiencies of state-run health care in other countries, and the inefficiencies of massive bureaucracies.  The more we learn, the more genuinely afraid – and angry – we become.

But because we are conservatives – because we don’t sit around and “hope” other people solve our problems for us – we are taking personal responsibility for the situation.  We are remembering that our representatives are supposed to represent our interests in Congress, but that they won’t know what those interests are unless they are made aware of them.

Acutely aware.


Something I learned in the Navy is that you shouldn’t yell very often at your subordinates.  Like pretty much almost never.  It’s a potentially powerful leadership tool which, when overused, backfires profoundly.  But sometimes, when you have a thick headed sailor who just keeps screwing up and screwing up and screwing up, and you’ve tried all the less caustic methods of training and counseling, you need to step things up a little to try to correct the bad and very likely dangerous behavior.

That’s what’s happening now.  It has nothing to do with stifling debate, or abusing the First Amendment.  It has everything to do with holding our elected officials accountable for what they have done, and ensuring they know exactly what we expect – demand – that they will do.

It’s about citizens reasserting themselves as the employer of Congressmen and Senators.  And nothing, Nancy Pelosi, could be more American than that.

Tags: 1st Amendment · Big Government · Congress · Health Care · Partisanship · Patriotism