We've seen the mixed audiences - and they have been mixed - at congressional town halls in the western part of the Northwest. But what was it like in Boise on Saturday night, at a meeting set up by the tea-bagging crowd?
Not violent or riotous, by all accounts. But some of the points made are worth some revisiting here, for a look at current Idaho conservatism and the situation Democratic Representative Walt Minnick is working within.
Blogger Joel Kennedy (a retired submarine officer (and "moderate realist. In Idaho, that makes me a Democrat") wrote that "one [participant] suggested that the whole concept of insurance was the cause of all the country's ills, and that if there was no insurance people would be a lot more personally responsible. There was lots of cheering for the concept of putting people in jail who tried to use the emergency room and not pay, but they also complained about the high cost of incarcerating people and wanted frequent use of the death penalty. Combining the two, it seemed the only logical solution to their conundrum was to execute poor people who couldn't afford to pay their hospital bills."
Welcome to Idaho. Assuming your pockets are stuffed sufficiently full of cash.
There were other concerns raised. A blog on the right, Free in Idaho, reported that "there are legitimate differences in opinion about the constitutionality of many of the things the government has done lately. Mr. Minnick seemed content that most are legitimate actions of government, but if not, the Supreme Court will eventually sort it out and make it all right. This stance brought boos every time he went there."
More specifically on health care, Jill Kuraitis at New West wrote about the concerns of veteran Bill Ripple, Boise, about “all this euthanasia of the greatest generation that ever lived.” Minnick responded (later in the meeting) "that nine years ago he had been in a serious car crash, and spent 24 hours on a respirator, fully conscious. 'And let me tell you the quality of life was not that great. I’d like to be able to provide some directions to my caregivers about my wishes.' A murmur of doubt and some suspicious words said that the audience was wary of the statement."
In favor of personal choice and responsibility, then, except when they weren't.
More generally, how did Minnick (the one member of Congress there in person) make out?
Kuraitis: "He paid too much homage to his Republican colleagues to please some Democrats, but not enough to please the crowd. Liberals won’t like it that he thought it was a 'useful suggestion' when someone shouted 'close the borders!' Republicans who crossed the party line to vote for him hated hearing of his support for President Obama."
For some reason, a closing line from an old Bob Dylan song plants itself, and refuses to go away: "He said his name was Columbus, and I just said, good luck."