Rep. Barney Frank Refutes Protester's Accusation; Democrats May Pursue Reform Bill on Their Own

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 19, 2009

USA Today/Gallup poll found 34 percent of respondents who are following news accounts of town hall meetings on healthcare reform were more sympathetic to the protestors’ viewpoints, while 21 percent said the protests had made them less sympathetic.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn is surprised the protests haven’t led to a backlash — “Surely the public would recoil at the demonstrators’ preference for confrontation over dialogue. Their wild overstatements and paranoia. Their signs featuring President Barack Obama with a Hitler-style mustache and other vile attempts to compare increasing government’s role in providing health care to the Nazi Holocaust.”

But, no.

Northwestern University sociologist Aldon Morris explains that ultimately it comes down to whether the protest itself “resonates with the uncertainties and fears that already exist in society” — and this trumps the outrageous and offensive tactics. Zorn lays out the following conditions that protesters have seized upon so successfully:

Uncertainty. There is as yet no one plan for proponents to defend, so every idea remains an attack target.

Anxiety. The fear that reform, whatever it turns out to entail, will make things worse for the 78 percent of Americans who have coverage and are at least somewhat satisfied with it, according to a recent Time poll. And, of course, that it will sink our nation even deeper into debt during a period of economic crisis.

Apathy. Backers of reform have been comparatively lackluster in their advocacy, in part because they have nothing specific to advocate for. But if, as other recent polls suggest, a majority of Americans believe our health-care system needs a major overhaul, you’d never know it judging by the passion gap between the two sides.

Combine that with an exploitation of racial and ideological fears and economic anxiety, and you get the toxic mix that we see every day on the news. An African-American president as Hitler? Go figure. But as Republicans appear unwilling to calm the fire — or contribute substantive reform suggestions — Democrats are realizing they may have to pursue a health care bill on their own.

Meanwhile, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is making headlines for chiding a woman holding a poster with an image of Obama as Hitler. At a town hall meeting last night in Massachussetts, Frank gave up trying to reason with the unreasonable:

4 responses to “Rep. Barney Frank Refutes Protester’s Accusation; Democrats May Pursue Reform Bill on Their Own”

  1. “it comes down to whether the protests resonate with fears that already exist in the society”? Oh, so your wrote an article that essentially says most people are OK with the protesters because most people, white people, are upset over having an African-American president- this is the prevailing fear I guess you are talking about, since most of the protesters are white Republicans, who already have health care coverage…and don’t want anyone else to have it, unless they do what Republicans want them to do…
    I’m so glad Rep. Frank didn’t even try to treat such disrespectful behavior with any kind of regard. Trying to “loudmouth” the Congressman, and not giving him a chance to talk is rude. Those people are just playing to the camera, and didn’t deserve any respect from Rep. Frank. Go, Barney!!

  2. I agree with Rep. Frank’s choice to let everyone there know that defacing, slandering, comparing the US healthcare system and its personnel to concentration camps and Nazi’s, and yelling at each other and to elected offiicials who are trying to help, will not help in establishing a better healthcare system. Barney Frank will tell you exactly how it is. If you don’t like the heat, get out from in front of the camera.

  3. Hooray for Barney Frank for not allowing people to detract from intelligent discussion on the Health Care issue.

    I wish the Opponents would get up and state precisely what part of the bill they object to. Of course, they can’t. They haven’t read it! This merely makes them look foolish by allowing the Insurance and Pharmaceutical Company lobbyists to plant lies into their minds.

    Opponents refuse to hear what is said when a concerned citizen actually asks an intelligent question, as opposed to repeating Lobbyist propaganda. Instead, they should be working together with lawmakers on the parts of the bill that they are uncomfortable with so that it can be improved so that all Americans can receive decent healthcare, and an independent commission can be put into place to assure taxpayers that costs are both legitimate and non-discriminatory.

  4. Of course Barny Frank also told us at that meeting that he had “voted against the Iraq War”. The Senate votes to authorize wars, not Barny’s House of Representatives. 78% of the US Senate voted to authorize the war in Iraq. Barny’s opinion was never solicited on that occasion.

    Mr. Frank was not quite honest on that issue.

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