White House: ‘Shouting at politicians’ is a US ‘tradition’http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/08/10/white-house-cites-long-tradition-of-americans-shouting-at-politicians/
By Stephen C. Webster Published: August 10, 2009
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton took a position opposite congressional leaders who said Monday morning that raucous, angry town disruptions of hall meetings on health care reform are “un-American.”
“I think there’s actually a pretty long tradition of people shouting at politicians in America,” he said, adding that a “spirited debate” and “vigorous conversation” is only natural.
Democratic members of Congress Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer published an editorial Monday morning in USA Today which blasts crowds of angry conservatives for trying to shout down supporters of a public health care plan.
The United States has over 50 million citizens without health insurance.
“However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue,” wrote Pelosi and Hoyer. “These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted ‘Just say no!’ drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.”
They added: “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”
According to ABC News reporter Jake Tapper, White House Deputy Press Secretary Burton added: “The President thinks that if people want to come and have a spirited debate about health care, a real vigorous conversation about it, that’s a part of the American tradition and he encourages that, because people do have questions and concerns …And so if people want to come and have their concerns and their questions answered, the President thinks that’s important. Now, if you just want to come to a town hall so that you can disrupt and so that you can scream over another person, he doesn’t think that that’s productive. And as a country, we’ve been able to make progress when people actually talk out what our problems are, not try to shout each other down.”
Obama unveiled a new Web site, WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck, inspired by his campaign’s FightTheSmears.com site, which countered rumors like the debunked but persistent claim that he was not born in the United States.
In an email message to supporters, senior White House adviser David Axelrod trumpeted the new site’s “information and a number of online tools you can use to spread the truth among your family, friends and other social networks.”
In one video, Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes takes aim at claims that the sweeping overhaul includes a plan to drive the elderly into forced euthanasia.
The video includes remarks by Republican Representative Virginia Foxx that the Democratic plan could “put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government” — a charge frequently echoed among foes of the legislation.
From behind the desk of her West Wing office, Barnes directs viewers to the relevant section of the bill, says it would allow people to get advice on such issues as “living wills,” and underlines there is “nothing mandatory.”
The battle over health care was not expected to ease when lawmakers return in September, with Democrats battling to meet Obama’s deadline of enacting an overhaul by the end of the year.