Wednesday, August 12, 2009

“Raucous, full house meets MO Sen. McCaskill” Eyewitness report by Christopher Barr

The crowd spilled over into the lobby for the town hall meeting with Senator Claire McCaskill at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri 8/10/09.

The response from the crowd indicated that the sentiment was predominantly against the health bills currently before Congress.

First of all, credit where credit is due regarding Sen. McCaskill.

“Nothing here is manufactured. You people are all good Americans,” McCaskill responded to one who protested reports that those against the current bills are un-American, and part of an organized campaign by insurance companies and Republicans.

McCaskill emphasized problems with health insurance companies thoughout the meeting.

The senator also emphasized health insurance company profits increasing more than six-fold from the year 2000 to the year 2007.

However, McCaskill did not emphasize problems with the pharmaceutical industry or their profits increasing far greater than health insurance companies.

In other words, the senator failed to note that the current bills predominantly address the smaller issue of health insurance rather than the much greater matter of health care.

McCaskill opened the meeting by showing a very large serving bowl filled with questions both hand-written and sent by way of e-mail. The senator said questions would be drawn from the bowl to keep things fair.

Fairly early in the Q and A there was a voice question taken by the senator from one detailing her personal contact with the senator’s office whose query was generally supportive of the bill.

Cries of “she’s a plant” were voiced all around the area of my seating.

McCaskill often took voice questions thereafter turning attention back to the bowl filled with questions when voices escalated.

The senator showed herself to be a very deft politician as the bowl filled with questions appeared to be a fall back retreat position rather than a device to keep things fair.

On the other hand, the crowd was often unruly and that is not productive, as well as providing an excuse for the senator to hide behind.

One of the written “questions” was a tirade against President Obama, the senator and all democrats that contained no question at all.

Another written query asked “Where’s the birth certificate?” A health care meeting is not the appropriate forum for this whether that question has merit or not.

“Democracy depends on an informed electorate,” is an oft stated maxim.

“Election depends on keeping voters uninformed, under informed, or downright misinformed,” wrote blogger Ched MacQuigg recently.

The electorate at the TRCC town hall was not informed that the current bills primarily address health insurance more so than health care.

The elected official did not inform the gathered electorate of this fact though acknowledging with one brief mention that pharmaceutical profits from just the MediCare Part D plan increased at least $6 billion dollars annually. Just that one portion of pharmaceutical profits doubles the total health insurance profits that Senator McCaskill addressed again and again.

The main points demonstrated at the TRCC town hall were of an electorate that is angry and of an elected official that is a clever politician.

Solutions to escalating health care costs or for increasing quality of health care were nowhere to be found.

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