Nearly two years after the teabaggers turned town hall meetings into free-for-alls against the Democrats, the Republicans are finding out what it’s like to get yelled at by people in public.
A town-hall meeting held in Orlando by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster degenerated into bedlam Tuesday, with members of the crowd shouting down the freshman Republican congressman and yelling at one another.
It could be a sign of things to come for Webster, a staunch conservative in a competitive district that Democrats hope to recapture in 2012. Last week, Webster took heat from conservative tea party members for not pushing hard enough to cut the federal budget.
But Tuesday, the heat came from the other side.
Tuesday at the Orange County Agricultural Extension office in Orlando, boos and shouts of “liar” were mixed with angry accusations that Ryan’s plan to change Medicare would leave those now younger than 55 without health insurance in their retirement. There also were calls to eliminate the tax cuts first put in place by then-President George W. Bush and to raise corporate taxes rather than cut entitlement programs.
Others in the crowd began yelling at Webster’s critics to quiet down, at one point with the chant “Let him talk!” But the meeting frequently devolved into multiple arguments — some of them heated — between members of audience.
When Vietnam veteran Ron Parsell yelled that he wanted to know why Webster was cutting Medicare and veterans’ benefits, his answer came from the audience instead.
“We can’t afford it, you moron!” a red-faced man screamed.
Two Orlando police officers moved to the front of the room and flanked Webster and pleaded for decorum when the congressman could no longer be heard.
“It’s not going to be solved by yelling and screaming and hollering,” one officer said. “Let’s conduct ourselves like grown people.”
Hey, they started it.
This is a microcosm of what happened in Wisconsin and Ohio; a realization by the voters of what they got when they voted for the teabagger-supported candidates, and they’re not liking it. And — surprise — the Democrats are actually ahead of the curve on this. They’re already running ads against the Ryan budget and targeting vulnerable Republicans, including Mr. Webster, who beat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) last fall.
The right wingers are calling protesters “leftist thugs” and “goons“, which is a sure sign that they either have no sense of irony compared to the town halls in 2009, or that they have grounds to sue for copyright infringement since it was they who came up with the plans for disrupting town hall meetings in the first place.