Never mind the prospect of health-care reform, such as it will be should the bill pass tomorrow. I'll just be grateful for a break from all the protesters roaming my neighborhood. Because some are kinda scary, and more than a few are downright nasty.
This afternoon, as they exited President Obama's speech to Democratic House members at the Capitol Visitor Center and made their way to a House office building, several lawmakers were subjected to epithets hurled by protesters, and in one incident, a protester was arrested after reportedly spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, an African-America who represents Missouri's 5th District, according to Sam Stein
of the Huffington Post.
And TPMDC's Brian Beutler reports
that Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., said they were confronted by a crowd that shouted "Kill the bill, nigger" several times. Beutler also reports personally hearing a protester shout "you faggot" at Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to the eruption of laughter by fellow protesters.
Then there were the signs and posters that threatened violence, or the effigy of Obama decked out like a witch doctor with the tagline, "No 'Voo-Doo' Medicine!!" Or the poster featuring a photo of Obama with the tagline "Undocumented Worker". (HuffPo has a photo gallery
of signs here.)
As Barney Frank told TPMDC's Evan McMorris-Santoro: ""[T]he objection to the health care bill has become a proxy for other sentiments."
Who knew the finance committee chair to have such a penchant for understatement?
Democrats lept to take advantage, with a staffer from the office of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., quick to circulate a news report of the name-calling via e-mail.
I found myself cracking a smile of wry amusement at a sandwich sign worn by an elderly man who walked with a cane: "My Family Got Through the Great Depression Without a Government Health Plan." I thought of asking him if he was on Medicare, but I pretty much knew the answer: dollars to donuts he is.
Depending on how many of those thousands of nativist Tea Party activists decide to stick around the Hill for Sunday's historic vote on health-care reform, things could get even more interesting when the expected tens of thousands of immigration-reform advocates advance on Capitol Hill tomorrow with a march. Hopefully the anti-war activists, in town to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Iraq war, will project some peaceful vibes over the scene.