Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Potemkin Town Halls

I didn't invent the phrase "Potemkin town halls," but I really like it. It's being used in connection with Obama's town hall in New Hampshire earlier today--and particularly because the "randomly chosen" eleven-year-old girl who pitched him a softball question turns out to be the young daughter of a major Obama supporter (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin):

A girl from Malden asked President Obama a question at Tuesday's town hall meeting in New Hampshire about the signs outside "saying mean things" about his health care proposal.

Eleven-year-old Julia Hall asked: "How do kids know what is true, and why do people want a new system that can -- that help more of us?''

The question opened the door for the president to respond to what he called an "underlying fear'' among the public "that people somehow won't get the care they need.''

The girl later told the Globe that picking the president's brain was "incredible."

"It was like a once in a lifetime experience," she said.

Julia's mother was an early Obama supporter in Massachusetts during the presidential election, so she had previously met First Lady Michelle Obama, the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia, and Vice President Joe Biden. (Emphasis added--E.M.)

"This was my first time meeting Barack Obama, and he's a very nice man," Julia said. "I'm glad I voted for him."

She said Obama won a mock presidential election at the Cheverus School in 2008. And on Tuesday, he approached her after the town meeting.

It's already obvious that the selection process for the audience for Obama's town hall meeting makes it a bit of a stretch to call it a "town hall." Post-election campaign rally would be a better name for it. But even with a friendly audience (who chanted "Yes, we can!" at one point) and questions that were so slow and over the plate that an nonathletic woman like myself could have knocked them out of the park, Barack Obama managed to stumble, most of all with that gaffe about the post office which is here.

One wonders how he'd handle the kind of town hall meetings Democratic congressmen and women have been dealing with all summer long. One wonders if the Democratic congressmen are wondering that, too.

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