A friend, and better man than I am, attended a noon rally here in Washington, DC that was intended to be a show of support for lefty health care reform. He filed this report on what appears to have been a rather pathetic event:
Last night my office phone received a “robo” call placed on behalf of “Health Care for America Now!,” urging me to join an “emergency health care rally” at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at noon today.
I played it back and took notes: The call said “we need to send a message that Republicans and their corporate lobbyist friends will not stop us from passing real reform,” including “environmental” and “worker rights” issues. “We need you to tell Congress that we are not backing down, and neither should they.” The caller advised I should look for people with signs, and that they would have a sign for me.
Of course, I found it entertaining that I got this call, and I took it as an indication that it must be a real emergency for HCFAN if they need to place what must have been thousands of random calls to folks who work on and around K Street.
So, in lieu of lunch, I strolled over to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters at the corner of Connecticut and H Streets. There was a crowd of perhaps 125-150 people, maybe not that many, on the steps and sidewalk in front of the Chamber offices. Most were carrying pre-printed signs with captions like, “Stop Corporate Lobbyists.” I guess this was a reference to lobbyists other than the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, labor organizations, the AARP, and many dozens of others listed as supporters on HCFAN’s website — corporate and other lobbyists who were, by the score, bought off in the closed door negotiations that resulted in the monstrous bill passed by the barest of margins in both chambers.
There were also nice pre-printed signs saying “American Workers for Health Care,” which presumably is a reference to government and unionized workers, who will be exempted from the heavy taxes and allowed to enjoyed health care plans with rich benefits, subsidized by the rest of us. The “workers” are apparently to be distinguished from the citizenry, which by all polling measures is overwhelmingly opposed to the version of “health care” now on the table.
Another sign said, “If Corporate Lobbyists Win, We Lose,” same color scheme as the first anti-lobbyist sign. Of course the problem is, the entire legislative package has been strapped together by lobbyists for a variety of special interests. One very large banner proclaimed: “Public Option Now!”
As I watched, the crowd was repeatedly urged to yell “Now” in response to a variety of slogans. They performed on cue. The gist of the speeches was that a majority of the Senate should ram the bill through, and that those who oppose it (i.e., a wide majority of Americans) do not have a “right” to prevent passage through their elected representatives in the Senate.
These folks are shock troops for Obama’s emerging “double down” strategy. In contrast to the “tea party” crowds here and elsewhere, this struck me as a professional bunch, union members and “activists” of the sort who might turn up another day to disrupt a demonstration by the opposition.
Still, the turnout was pathetic, especially on a day with decent weather and in the heart of Washington, the nation’s only “Obama boom town,” where support for a ram down of this terrible legislation is bound to be far greater than most any other place in the country. One might truly have said, “nothing to see here, move along.” Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid may be galvanized into trying a ram down, but not by the support evidenced at this “emergency” rally.