Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wu's Portland town hall: "sizeable share" were pro-reform, but questions were "mostly hostile"

Yesterday I was wondering about the relative numbers of health care reform opponents and supporters at Rep. Wu's latest town hall meeting in Portland.

A day later, I'm not sure I know the answer.

Here's the Oregonian editorial board's take (emphasis added):

At Tuesday's packed gathering in Portland, much as at Monday's in McMinnville, Wu skillfully fielded a barrage of questions, mostly hostile. He endured some heckling, loud scoffing, name-calling and profanity at a hospital auditorium in Portland, but he was never shouted down as other members of Congress have been during this summer of stormy health care debate.

It helped that a sizable share of Wu's audiences Monday and Tuesday, both exceeding 125 people, appeared to support Democratic health care reform legislation. It also helped that Wu and his staff kept tight control over the proceedings.

So there you are, depending on what a "sizeable share" amounts to.

Here's more:

No follow-up questions were allowed, and Wu wisely avoided remaining engaged with several who ignored that rule.

Remarks from the hostile portion of the crowd revealed considerable fear and anger over perceived components of the Democrats' reform bills. Also revealed was deep distrust based on a breathtaking scale of misinformation -- falsehoods that Wu had to repudiate over and over.

No, health care reform would not include euthanasia. No, it would not pay for abortions. No, it would not cover illegal immigrants.

For that, he was called "liar," "moron," "fascist" and worse.

Impressively, Wu never became rattled or painfully defensive. He responded patiently and graciously to everyone whose number was drawn, no matter how rudely they addressed him.

Odd that the questions from the audience, a "sizeable share" of which were pro-reform, were "mostly hostile." Luck of the draw?

It seems to me that one of the defining qualities of a "town hall meeting" should be that, a day later, it should be easier than this for the town to find out what was going on in it.

The AP has more here (picked up at KATU's site as well).

No word so far on whether Wu got the chance to improve on his tepid support for the public option. Anyone who was at the meeting--what's your take?

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