Abnormally interesting town hall meetings have caused some in Congress to make their August events invitation-only. This tactic, a favorite of the Bush administration, has been bemoaned by the right as cowardice. Senator Byron Dorgan, who puts the D in the Red State of ND, went ahead and held meetings anyway. I went to a few to see what the fuss was all about. (Hint: It's not about health care.)
If our Congress can be measured on a scale of feces (and it should), Senator Byron Leslie Dorgan is closer to adorable rabbit droppings than, say, the diseased swine diarrhea that is Michele Bachmann (R-MN). A three-time senator, Dorgan is the author of Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America. One of only eight senators to vote "No" on 1999's financial deregulation, he is now famous for saying: "I think we will look back in 10 years and say we should not have done this, but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past."
Despite his brave stand on behalf of his flock during a period of unchecked growth and dumdum optimism, many now say outright that they do not trust him. Also, he blogs for the HuffPo. Best of all, Dorgan is fit, nearly svelte, a graying, trustworthy John Edwards, a man for whom flat-front L.L. Bean slacks were invented. Because who wants to trust health care reform to some fatso?
My first stop was the Mayville Senior Citizen Center. It's a tiny ag town between Fargo and Grand Forks along the Red River. Not 20 miles the other side of the river is Minnesota's 7th Congressional district, represented by Collin Peterson (D-MN)-who you may have recently heard is in a bit of trouble after saying he doesn't do town halls anymore because "Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the Twin Towers down."
All week here, during old people hour (i.e., the nightly news) on the TV, commercials from the Club for Growth were in heavy rotation. The commercial's gist: "Old people will be forcibly put down unless they oppose reform." During my drive to Mayville, Excellence in BroadcastingÃ‚Â® is on and Rush was giving "just the facts" on the H.R. 3200 bill.
On the way back, it was Hannity. Both mentioned "death panels."