Thursday, August 20, 2009

Behind Enemy Lines: Trip Report From Grand Junction Obama Town Hall

I was among the roughly 1,000 people in attendance at Obama’s Grand Junction, CO “town hall” meeting on August 15th. (See my photos in the "Grand Junction Obama Town Hall" album to the right.) Above all, I hoped to ask one of my questions, but I was resigned to the likelihood that I would not be called upon. However, I can provide a synopsis of the event. Despite being diametrically opposed to President Obama on almost every issue, I will offer an honest and candid assessment of the event.

I do not know how people were chosen to attend the event. I entered my information, but was not chosen. However, my father-in-law was and he offered me his guest ticket. My father-in-law is a registered Republican, but has no other glaring political “marks,” such as a history of writing to the President to inform him of his fallacies. Nonetheless, I am not aware of any biased screening of attendees through the ticket request process, picking up the tickets, nor entering the event.

Upon arriving at Clifton High School we got our first view of some protestors, both for and against the House Bill, HR 3200. By number, those in favor of the Bill were in the vast majority. They occupied a large area of a dirt lot across the street from the high school. The area had been adorned with a multitude of “Standing together for health care reform, healthcare.barackobama.com” signs. There were a few hand painted signs (about equal in number to the hand-painted signs held by the opposition). Along with the healthcare posters were “Organize for America” posters. There was a table with a large sign reading, “Check In Here.” For those of you who don’t already know, Organize for America is an organization spawned by the DNC in January, 2009 armed with the names and contact information for over 13 Million Americans who had supported the Obama campaign.

I don’t have any issue with organizing, and I don’t take issue to them being present and in force at the Obama “Town Hall.” However, I do have a big issue with Democrats, the liberal media, and uninformed Obama sympathizers gasping and cursing the organization efforts of conservatives, much less accusing conservatives of hatemongering and discouraging debate when they are the ones actively organizing and impeding debate.

A plethora of volunteers greeted us at several points along the long march into the parking lot and through the security screening. They wore non-descript “volunteer” badges, but were all Organizing for America volunteers. Some were handing out cups of water; one person in line asked if it was Kool-Aid. We proceeded without incident to our seats in the bleachers. We stood for a couple of hours waiting for the event to begin – which offered ample time to observe the attendees and listen to the conversations around us.

Most people were Obama sympathizers. A woman seated two rows in front wore a t-shirt with “TEAM OBAMA” in large letters on the back. Obama could have looked her in the eye and told her he was going to torture her and she would have been pumping her fists in support as she did almost constantly when he spoke. Several others wore Obama ’08 T-shirts and some had homemade “I love Obama” shirts. From the conversations going on around me it was apparent that people were more interested in seeing President Obama than having a serious discussion about Health Care. They were Obamabots to their core. By the end of the event they were practically drooling over themselves because President Obama was such an eloquent speaker.

One woman at the bottom of the bleachers in front of me was reading a document with the heading, “Building a Political Movement.” It was put together by the CWA (Communications Workers of America). I did a little searching online and found this link to the document: http://files.cwa-union.org/healthcarevoices/learnmore/ObamaHealthPlanFactSheetCWA.pdf … Apparently it is supposed to be a “fact sheet” about the Health Care Bill. Talk about playing “soft” ball with the real issues! The greater point is that there are special interests actively promoting the Health Care bill, organizing, and distributing information in an attempt to control the debate. This is yet another proof. Notice how vague and detached the “fact sheet” is? That’s because they can call it “fact” so long as they don’t tell their members the truth about the details in the Bill (see my earlier post, “Rebutting the Misinformation Misinformation about Health Care.”).

The arrival of Senators Udall and Bennett, Governor Ritter, Secretary Salazar, and Congressman Salazar occurred with a good deal of fanfare and preceded the arrival of President Obama by several minutes. However, Obama’s arrival was greeted with a standing round of applause (I remained seated except for the chance to snap a few photos). Obama delivered a speech, with Teleprompters, about the great “success” of the “stimulus” bill and tried to make the case that Health Care reform was necessary for the recovery of the nation – Just like Bill Clinton’s dire warning in 1993 that our economy would collapse without health care reform. The speech was the same one delivered in New Hampshire and Montana earlier in the week.

After delivering his talking points the Teleprompters dropped, Obama took off his coat, and he rolled up his sleeves and prepared for questions from the audience – evidently this is good for his image because he did exactly the same thing in New Hampshire and Montana. He took approximately 7 questions. He answered 0. Obama never strayed from his talking points, I’m guessing because he doesn’t know anything else and it is incredibly apparent he hasn’t read what’s actually in the Bill. There were a couple of questions from conservatives, including a challenge to an Oxford style debate from a college student, but the question he avoided that was most disturbing was, “when are we going to be able to do something to stop all of this misinformation?” The logical and proper response would be to say that this is America and the First Amendment gives everyone the right to speak freely, even if it’s not the truth. However, Obama gave a lengthy monologue about how good debate is okay, but [anything that disagrees with me] is not okay. Regardless, he stuck with his talking points.

There were a few challenges from people in the audience who shouted when Obama again blamed Republicans for all that is wrong in the country. And a conservative asked Obama to answer the question at least once. It was shouted from the audience because Obama was the only one with a microphone for 98% of the time. In total, I would estimate the crowd was 70% in favor of Obama and 30% opposed. Which is striking because Coloradoans are 52% to 36% opposed to the Health Care Bill. However, I still don’t believe the tickets that were handed out were selectively given to liberals or Obama supporters.

There are two fundamental reasons why the crowds at Obama’s events are uncharacteristically in favor: 1) As my mother said, “I have no interest in going to see that man!” Most conservatives know it’s a one-sided event before it gets started whereas the Obama zealots jump at any chance to see the messiah in person. I would bet that Obamabots outnumber conservatives 8 to 1 in requesting tickets to his events. 2) The people seated behind Obama and in the front rows are Volunteers for America volunteers. These rows were reserved and filled in after the rest of the crowd arrived. According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the seats behind Obama (100 – I counted) were reserved for people who had volunteered 500 hours for Obama. The front rows (about another 100 seats) were also his volunteers. Thus, at least 20% of the crowd was predetermined to be in favor of his policies.

Although I wasn’t called on to ask a question, I did share some facts directly from the bill with a woman seated behind me who kept insisting people with private insurance would get to keep their insurance because, “He said they get to keep it!” We had a good, civil discussion and though I don’t think I pulled Obama off her pedestal I was effective in putting questions in her mind. Even if it’s one person at a time, we must get the truth out to Americans!


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