Lawmakers Get The Point, Skip Town Hall Meetings


Occasional stories of gun-strapping freaks aside, the recent spate of stories about town halls across this sweet land of liberty being well-attended by engaged (and enraged) citizens would be enough to make Norman Rockwell swell with pride.

Here's a Rockwellian scene from a recent forum in Ohio ("The Heart of It All") that ought to make every bloviating pundit who has sounded off in the past 200 years about disengagement by boobus americanus feel like voters still give a damn:

More than 200 people packed a health care forum hosted by Sen. Sherrod Brown in Columbus last week, evidence of how much Ohioans want to talk to their elected officials about the hot-button topic.

One middle-aged man even ran halfway down the aisle trying to get Brown's attention. He said his wife has four incurable illnesses and he has been unable to get health insurance.

"Where do we go?" the man asked as other forum attendees yelled.

Sherrod Brown, the faceless successor to even-more-faceless Sen. Mike DeWine, pulling 200 people when just about everyone has cable TV? Jeebus H. Christ, that's rock-star numbers for a pol in the middle of the summer! Indeed, if you're Sir Paul McCartney, you'd be dying for a packed house.

And that sort of scene, of course, explains the larger point of the story, which is headlined "Most local lawmakers skip town halls":

Despite the intense interest, Brown is among the minority of Ohio lawmakers holding town hall forums this summer. Congress is on a month long recess, but according to an Enquirer survey of local lawmakers, only Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from West Price Hill, is planning any local events.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, needless to say, gets it wrong. It's not "despite the intense interest," lawmakers are passing on town halls. It's because of the intense interest. Whole account of what lawmakers are doing on their summer vacations here.