The Slatest

Republicans Are Now Terrified That Obamacare Town Halls Could Get Out of Hand

Peter Drowne of Big Fork, Montana, protests outside a town hall–style meeting attended by President Barack Obama on Aug. 14, 2009, in Belgrade, Montana.

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On Tuesday, Politico reported that Republicans in Congress held a closed-door meeting on how to handle office protests and town halls with constituents angry about the potential repeal of Obamacare. From Politico:

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers invited Rep. David Reichert, a former police sheriff, to present lawmakers with protective measures they should have in place. Among the suggestions: having a physical exit strategy at town halls, or a backdoor in congressional offices to slip out of, in case demonstrations turn violent; having local police monitor town halls; replacing any glass office door entrances with heavy doors and deadbolts; and setting up intercoms to ensure those entering congressional offices are there for appointments, not to cause chaos.

“The message was: One, be careful for security purposes. Watch your back. And two, be receptive. Honor the First Amendment, engage, be friendly, be nice,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.). “Because it is toxic out there right now. Even some of the guys who have been around here a lot longer than I have, have never seen it to this level.”

Really? Never?

Not once?

Are you quite sure?

Huh. Interesting. Well, if it’s any comfort to Republican Congress members, sneaking out of town halls when constituents get up in your grill doesn’t appear to be all that difficult, as Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., demonstrated at an Obamacare-focused event last month:

“A few people noticed Coffman sneaking out and attempted to address him,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote. “ ‘Next time,’ one woman pleaded, ‘please be sure you hear all your constituents!”’ Coffman ignored them, hopped into a waiting car, and drove away.”