Tuesday, March 08, 2011

After Praising 2009 Town Hall ‘Outrage,’ Sensenbrenner Overwhelmed By Progressive Town Hall Protesters

By Zaid Jilani

In 2009, corporate front groups like Americans For Prosperity organized protestsagainst Democrats who supported the health care overhaul, raucously disrupting the town hall meetings of these members of Congress.

One of the Republican members of Congress who most vigorously supported these town hall protests was Rep. James Sensenbrenner (WI). At the time, Sensenbrenner implored politicians to listen “to the message” of the town hall demonstrators and praised their efforts to disrupt the meetings of his Democratic colleagues:

– Sensenbrenner Said We Should Be “Listening To The Message” Of Town Hall Protesters: He wrote in his weekly column on his website that he “appreciated the hundreds and hundreds of people” who showed up to make their voices heard. [1/22/10]

– Sensenbrenner’s Communications Director Pointed To The Town Halls As Evidence People Were Against Health Reform: Queried by Politifact about his statement that Americans “emphatically” reject efforts to reform the U.S. health care system, his communications director Wendy Riemann pointed to the congressman’s town hall meetings: “At these meetings, the overwhelming majority of attendees (public from the 5th District) were opposed to the healthcare bill and/or supported the law’s repeal.” [1/16/10]

– Sensenbrenner Chided Democrats For Supposedly Ignoring Town Hall Protesters: In a weekly column, the congressman chided “President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi” for continuing to “ignore the voices of the majority of Americans whose outrage over a government takeover was expressed at town hall meetings across the country in August.” [2/23/2010]

The tables were turned yesterday when Sensenbrenner was confronted at a constituent town hall by scores of people who were outraged by his endorsement of a GOP budget proposal that would slash and burn investments in infrastructure and education and deny millions of Americans a decent shot at living the American Dream. The constituent protest became so intense that the congressman adjourned the meeting early. An attendee of the event recorded footage of the protest. Watch it:

Following the meeting, Sensenbrenner put out a statement saying, “It’s unfortunate… individuals who were patiently waiting to ask a question or share a concern were unable to do so.” Yet it appears that the congressman’s standards for whether protesters’ behavior is appropriate changes depending on who is the target.

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