In a USA Today op-ed today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took aim at the "disruptions" at health care town halls, calling them part of "an ugly campaign" of "drowning out ... substantive discussion." Quite bluntly, the leading Democrats concluded that the behavior "is simply un-American." There's not much liberal defense of the column in the bum rush reactions, and conservatives are making several big counterpoints.
- Steamrollers The National Review's Jonah Goldberg noted that Pelosi and Hoyner wanted to pass health care reform quickly, before the August recess. "If they had won, there would be no debate, civil or otherwise, right now because they would have steamrolled the opposition already," he wrote. "If Pelosi and Hoyer had their way, these townhalls would be delivering a fait-accompli."
- Stifled Speech Hot Air's Ed Morrissey forecasted a slippery slope of reduced free speech. "Maybe they'll just recreate the House Un-American Activities Committee to hold hearings and demand testimony," he speculated. "There could be nothing more American than appearing at a town hall and confronting elected officials."
- Recall Bush Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle asked what the reaction would have been if such a column had been penned by Republicans condemning criticism of the Iraq war. "I do want to note how deftly the left has abandoned its old rallying cry, 'Dissent is patriotic,'" she wrote. William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection agreed, citing "eight years of protesters hanging George Bush in effigy, calling him a Nazi, disrupting conservative speeches on campuses by taking over stages or throwing pies, creating websites and movies that wished for Bush's death, and a myriad of other indignities."
- Un-American? The Atlantic's own Chris Good went back to basics: "Surely these people were all born in America. All of this is happening in America," he mused. "Maybe drowning out debate is American, after all...I guess we'll find out."