Peggy Noonan looks at the increasingly disturbing tone of the national debate and finds fear and abuse of power:

The passions of the protesters, on the other hand, are not a surprise. They hired a man to represent them in Washington. They give him a big office, a huge staff and the power to tell people what to do. They give him a car and a driver, sometimes a security detail, and a special pin showing he’s a congressman. And all they ask in return is that he see to their interests and not terrify them too much. Really, that’s all people ask. Expectations are very low. What the protesters are saying is, “You are terrifying us.”

What has been most unsettling is not the congressmen’s surprise but a hard new tone that emerged this week. The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town hall meetings weren’t authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss—loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don’t.

…every day the meetings seem just a little angrier, and people who are afraid—who have been made afraid, and left to be afraid—can get swept up. As this column is written, there comes word that John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO has announced he’ll be sending in union members to the meetings to counter health care’s critics.

Somehow that doesn’t sound like a peace initiative.

It’s going to be a long August, isn’t it? Let’s hope the uncharted territory we’re in doesn’t turn dark.

Recent statements from the White House seem to indicate a certain easiness with darkness:

And White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina said Democratic senators who are attacked for supporting the health-care bill can count on the White House to help organize local doctors, nurses, religious leaders and others to come to their defense.

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,” Mr. Messina told senators, according to two people in the room.

Republicans say the health bills working their way through Congress cost too much, won’t help most Americans and will lead to excess government control over the health system. They say momentum for the bills is likely to slow after the August break, once lawmakers hear from their constituents.



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