State Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione will be out of town– does he want other people to crowd into a health care forum and disrupt it? From Projo.com…
State Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione said he hopes angry protesters will flood Wednesday night’s town hall meeting hosted by Rep. James R. Langevin.
The 6 p.m. event at the Warwick City Hall is the first opportunity most Rhode Islanders will have to comment on and ask questions about health-care legislation moving through Congress. The meeting had been planned for the Warwick police headquarters, but Langevin’s office moved it to City Hall in anticipation of a large crowd.
“This is the clearest example in decades of the government exceeding its authority. I think this should make people really angry,” Cicione said, noting that he would be out of town, but that conservative groups — such as the Rhode Island Young Republicans and Rhode Island Tea Party movement — are mobilizing their forces to attend.
“This is America, we have First Amendment rights to protest,” Cicione continued. “The citizenry has the right to go out and shout at the top of their lungs.”
Am I wrong in thinking the strategy is to drown out discussion? Maybe I’m misinterpreting what he said. Maybe he doesn’t mean that an opportunity for citizens to speak to Rep. James Langevin, who knows the health care system from the patient’s view, must be hijacked and turned into a photo-op.
“It’s not fair to people who come with serious questions and want to get answers to have it totally theatrical and non-communicative,” said Sen. Jack Reed, who said he preferred to host a “tele-town hall” in which constituents could discuss the explosive issue by phone.
But Cicione disagrees with Reed’s basic premise.
“The town halls were always about political theater intended to garner support,” Cicione said. “These town halls were never about debate. We’re not stifling debate.”
It sounds like Chairman Cicione wants to make sure a debate doesn’t break out.
I went to a gathering at the office of Senator Reed. I wish the Senator had been there, because the advocates of health care reform were civil, prepared and had important things to say about how the current mess affects their lives, no only medical bills but employment prospects and family security.
You’re not going to be able to hear an 80 year old woman say that she’s worried about Rhode Island’s poor children when some college Republican is shouting her down.
Maybe I’m being unfair to suspect that Chairman Cicione is sneaking out of town while trying to get someone else to do the dirty work of keeping their fellow-citizens from being heard.
It’s too bad the Republican Party in Rhode Island isn’t a real alternative. The Chairman can’t do better than incite and run off somewhere safe, that passes for leadership.