While I realize that commentary of a four month old news item may not be the most groundbreaking of reporting, the fact that I have a unique perspective on this piece combined with the pride I feel to have been the target of the criminal front group known as Media Matters (Levin explains it best) , I feel I should give some background to the piece linked here.
In the midst of the town hall battles of last summer, I was disgusted that while she had announced that she would support the HR 3200 health insurance reform bill, my representative Carolyn McCarthy D NY-4, would not be meeting with her constituents over the summer recess due to the fact that she was recovering from surgery. Not only would there not be an in person meeting prior to the biggest vote in her career, there would be no online meeting or conference call. ( Miraculously she recovered just in time to cast her yea vote for Pelosi-care)
Tim Bishop D NY-1 had just become a youtube sensation for getting his figurative teeth kicked in over and over again by his constituents at town hall meetings, with Bishop looking completely uninformed and squirming around amongst people who were a heck of a lot more articulate on this issue than he was. After I found out that a McCarthy town hall wasn't happening, I searched the internet for a congressman or senator that was having a townhall within driving distance on a date and time when I wasn't working. Steve Rothman D NJ-9 at the North Arlington Senior Center August 10th 1pm. I grabbed my buddy Richie and left Valley Stream at 10am.
Steve Rothman is a slippery politician. I disagree with him on virtually issue, but he comes across as genuine, and is not easily flustered. He spoke about all the 'merits' of HR3200, while constantly reminding those attending the meeting he 'hadn't decided' how he'd vote on the bill(and I haven't decided if I'll vote Obama in 2012) There were many applause lines, virtually all stemming from comments made to the congressman from regular people in the crowd voicing concern for this horrible legislation. There were also many jeer lines, virtually all stemming from the feeble responses of the congressman or from the contrived talking points of the folks there wearing SEIU or HEALTHCARE NOW tee shirts. Rothman allows non-constituents at his town hall meetings, although they must wait to speak until all his constituants have spoken. Fair enough.
About two and a half hours into the meeting my name was called. The room was hot, the congressmans entire collar was drenched with sweat and the people in the room were visibly uncomfortable. First I gave Rothman credit for having a meeting, noting that I drove through no less than 9 congressional districts (including my own ) of liberal Democrats unwilling to hold town hall meetings. This was the first time I explained my drive to Jersey that was left on the cutting room floor by CNN. As for my comment, I decided to focus on something that he had stated multiple times during the meeting, and was a DNC talking point at the time, the fallacy of the 47 million uninsurable Americans.
I told Rothman that he loses all credibility with me when he implies that 47 million Americans can't afford health insurance. I explained that when you subracted illegal aliens, temporarily uninsured people who have recently changed jobs, young people who can afford health insurance and choose not to buy it, and people who qualify for an existing government program and haven't signed up, the real number of "uninsurable Americans" is about 8 million.
I closed my comment to the congressman with this " when you imply that there are 47 million Americans that can't afford to purchase health insurance, its a FLAT OUT LIE and you know it and everybody in this room knows it." This was a robust applause line. (And I guess it was effective as Democratic lawmakers and the President have used lower numbers ever since.)
"Excuse me, you want to be interviewed by CNN?" whispered a CNN producer about 10 seconds after I sat down.
"Let's talk to these guys outside." I told Richie.
As the interview went on, it was clear there was a slant in this coverage. First topic addressed was why I drove all this way to attend a town hall meeting. I told Gary Tuchman that I drove through no less than 9 congressional districts (including my own ) of liberal Democrats unwilling to hold town hall meetings. This was the second time I explained my drive to Jersey that was left on the cutting room floor by CNN. Other statements in the interview conveniently omitted by CNN: the disastorous fiscal track record the government has with massive entitlement programs, the damage that this profligate spending can do to this society, or the collective grown when we were told that the show we would be on was Anderson Cooper.
Fast forward to this holiday weekend, when my brother in law asked me if there was any footage of my statement to CNN on the internet. I searched 'rothman town hall august 10th' on google and this Media Matters piece came up featuring yours truly. Apparently some loser MM writer named Matt Gertz is upset that CNN didn't make a fuss that I wasn't from Rothmans district.
Funny, Matt, last I heard it was a free country and we could petition representatives other than our own. Rothman didn't seen to mind, in fact he welcomed non constituents comments while noting that his constituents would have first priority. The United States congress writes federal laws, which affect every American citizen. It's prudent to petition and or criticize whatever congressman or senator whose attention you can grab, if their vote is crucial on an issue that you feel is important.
I smile at the notion of annoying the low-lives like Matt Gertz who contribute to the criminal organization Media Matters, and can't wait for it to happen again.