This is, I feel, a more accurate way to describe what will happen Thursday than the phrase ‘town hall.’ In case you missed it: President Obama will ostensibly take to CNN later this week in order to try to justify his decision to create some meaningless and fleeting temporary executive orders on ‘gun control.’ I agree with Leon Wolf that this is all largely to make Barack Obama feel like he still matters, although, honestly? At this point of the arc of a Presidential administration the President’s most important job is to hide as much as possible, and not mess up things for his party’s candidate in the upcoming election, even though she’s invariably doomed anyway. You think Hillary Clinton wants Barack Obama to bang a gong on gun control – or, indeed, anything else? We can only hope that she’s that foolish.
But I, believe it or not, digress. I’m not actually upset about any of the above. What I’m upset about is how the English language is being mangled here.
You see: what will happen Thursday will not be a town hall. Even if it’s ‘live.’ We all know what proper town halls look like. Proper town halls are what we saw in 2009 and 2010: events where politicians were told, to their face and without sparing their feelings, just what their constituents thought about them. These events were not violent – much to the not-very-hidden disappointment of the media and the rest of the Left – but they were rarely civil. And they should not have been; Americans get touchy when a political party acts as high-handed as the Democrats did were with regard to Obamacare and the ‘stimulus.’ In short: a proper town hall should be rude, loud, and confrontational. That’s how you know that you’re doing democracy properly.
Now, does anybody here really expect that something like this will happen on Thursday?
No, of course not. What they’ll have is an audience disguised as a community; the questioners will be carefully vetted for ‘balance.’ And that balance will not, of course, represent the actual opinions and concerns of Americans; if it was we’d see person after person going Shut up about guns, President Obama, and explain to us why the economy is only getting better for you and your cronies. The questioners will be vetted, although probably not their questions*. There will probably be alternating ideological sides (note that CNN gets to decide what the two ideological sides). And lastly – this is the important part – nobody will be allowed to shout the President down. No matter what dangfool idiotic statements Barack Obama ends up making.
That last part is very, very important. One of the primary things that town halls do is teach politicians humility, often via the use of creative forms of humiliation. Which is why Barack Obama is being so careful to avoid the substance of a ‘town hall’ while embracing its outward forms. He wouldn’t last ten minutes with a cranky and cantankerous room, and President Obama knows it. And it’s not entirely his fault, you know? Well-meaning idiots have been sheltering the guy since he went to college, and it’s far too late for Barack Obama to learn how to be brave.
*Largely because if you vet the questioners properly you don’t need to go through the formality of actually seeing their questions.