People at Obama Town Hall Discuss Health Care Like People

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An amazing thing happened this afternoon. Perhaps it was the respect and deference that people generally pay to the president (as opposed to some lowly congressman or senator) that made President Obama’s town hall today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, so much calmer than almost any we’ve seen anywhere else. Or maybe it was a testament to how seriously New Englanders take their town halls that no rowdiness interrupted the cordial discussion that took place. Despite what people may assume, the crowd wasn’t staged; 70 percent of attendees were chosen in a random online lottery and the questions were not prescreened. Even when Obama actively sought out questions from people who were critical of health-care reform, they were polite and civilized. There were plenty of protests outside (and one menacing guy with a gun), but inside, it was almost as if people were interested in actually listening to what Obama had to say — especially about the ways that health-care reform could help those who already have insurance. And, wouldn’t you know it, it’s amazing how much more informative a town hall can be (wait, there aren’t any death panels?) when people aren’t booing, screaming about our impending transformation into the Soviet Union, or shouting down the person trying to answer their question.

Obama says health care critics use ‘scare tactics’ [AP via HuffPo]