Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) addresses a town hall meeting in Sun City, Arizona. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Guess it helps to be a war hero and have a reputation for bipartisanship.
Sen. John McCain had one of those, "Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!" moments Wednesday. An angry woman started yelling practically before his health care town hall had begun. McCain warned her that if she continued, she'd be kicked out:
"You're going to have to stop or you're going to have to leave," McCain told the woman. When security guards approached to escort her out, he told her "Goodbye, see ya" to a round of applause.
After McCain opened it up to questioning, one man angrily pointed at him and asked the senator why he deserves a better health care plan than him.
"I'm trying to get it for you," McCain told him. "We'll do it for you. We'll make it affordable and available to you."
This incident shows the problems of political double-standards: Last week, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank came under a certain amount of criticism because he castigated a town hall participant who compared Barack Obama's health care plan to that of a Nazi program. What would have been the reaction if Frank had gone further? What if he had summarily tossed her out as McCain did his protester? What are the rules here for these town halls?
The second problem is McCain's response to the participant who wants to know why he can't have the same health care that McCain has. The senator says that he's "trying to get it for you."
The premise of this question is an unfortunate result of the Republican push-back on the Democrats health care effort. The GOP asserts that the sort of government takeover of health care that Democrats are pushing isn't the same as the nice package that members of Congress enjoy.
Republicans use this same "gotcha!" formulation when it comes to school choice: The argument goes that since members of Congress -- and other wealthy individuals -- can send their children to the schools they wish, why can't the poor?
Well, with that argument, why not take it to its logical conclusion? Since members of Congress get to drive fancy cars -- often with private drivers!! -- why don't the poor get their own personal cars too? Why not make sure everyone gets paid the same $100K-plus salaries that elected leaders get?
It's an absurd argument. McCain shouldn't pander to his town hall participants in such a manner -- and Republicans shouldn't be tossing out this semi-socialist rhetoric.