But the biggest political moment, the one that carried the deepest implications, came exactly one year ago, in July and August of 2009, in the town hall rebellion. Looking back, that was a turning point in both parties' fortunes. That is when the first resistance to Washington's plans on health care became manifest, and it's when a more generalized resistance rose and spread. President Obama and his party in Congress had, during their first months in power, done the one thing they could not afford to do politically, and that was arouse and unite their opposition. The conservative movement and Republican Party had been left fractured and broken by the end of the Bush years. Now, suddenly, they had something to fight against together. Social conservatives hated the social provisions, liberty-minded conservatives the state control, economic conservatives the spending. Health care brought them together. The center, which had gone for Mr. Obama in 2008, joined them.Ah, the heady days of the summer '09. Conservatives had developed friendships at Tea Parties in the Winter, Spring, and early Summer and those friendships allowed us to coordinate our coverage of townhall events.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats saw it coming. But it was a seminal moment, and whatever is coming in November, it started there.
It was a largely self-generated uprising, and it was marked, wherever it happened, in San Diego or St. Louis, by certain common elements. The visiting senator or representative, gone home to visit the voters, always seemed shocked at the size of the audience and the depth of his constituents' anger. There was usually a voter making a videotape in the back of the hall.
When Rep. Russ Carnahan held a town hall meeting at a community college in Missouri on July 20, he tried patiently to explain that ObamaCare not only would be deficit-neutral, it would save money. They didn't shout him down, they laughed.Oh, yeah... that was hilarious:
And props to Kevin Jackson of TheBlackSphere for his excellent question during that exchange: "If it's so good, why doesn't Congress have to be on it?" At the end of that townhall Russ Carnahan walked away from me rather than take my question about sovereign immunity. Not to worry, though, Carnahan recently claimed that his door is always open, but a simple investigation proved otherwise. Back to Noonan:
There were almost always spirited speeches from voters.My favorite was Paul Curtman's demand for an apology from Senator Claire McCaskill:
Curtman is running for the state house here in Missouri. He's running in a traditionally Democrat district, so he could use your help. He's also written a book which is available at his campaign website. More Noonan:
Mr. Obama won on more than health care; he won on the stimulus package and the Detroit bailout. And yet his poll numbers continue to float downward. He is not more loved with victory. To an unusual and maybe unprecedented degree his victories seem like victories for him, and for his party, and for his agenda, but they haven't settled in as broad triumphs that illustrate power and competence.Two reasons are that his favoritism of big businesses and even bigger government.
While Noonan's column focuses on townhalls, there was also an insurgency among small businesses. Randy and Dave McArthur of McArthur's Bakery have been outspoken about the impact of Cap and Trade on their business:
And their need for customers, not loans:
After the 2010 November election, I expect Congress to better reflect the will of the people and the President either to follow suite or continue his self-marginalization.