Democrats skip townhalls to avoid tea party "patriots"
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Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times offers "Democrats Skip Town Halls to Avoid Voter Rage" (nytimes.com/2010/06/07/us/politics/07townhall.html): the tantrums that those in the tea parties threw at last summer's public meetings have caused many Democrats to avoid open meetings this time around: Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts. Instead, they've conducted video chats and held meetings in "controlled settings".
Because the tea partiers acted like little children, they've given the Democrats plausible deniability to avoid taking questions from the public. Many outside the tea parties might be sympathetic: who wants to deal with, er, such people?
The smarter thing to have done - something I tried to get them to do at the time and something I've been promoting for over three years - was to have smart, experienced people "cross-examine" those politicians over their policies using very tough questions. If the partiers had picked up on that, the Democrats' attempts to avoid their voters wouldn't have as much of a leg to stand on: it would be obvious that they just wanted to avoid tough questions rather than being yelled at by the borderline insane.
There's really no upside to this, delusions of the tea partiers to the contrary. For instance, the Ed Morrissey HotAir post about this  uses the phrase "Milk Carton Democrats", as if that's going to cause them to start holding meetings again. That post has comments like: "This is gonna backfire on the Dems come November" and the even dumber "They can’t avoid the most important “town hall”– election day!" That's not that likely: in almost all districts the tea party types only make up a small part of the general electorate. They don't have the numbers, even if they delude themselves into thinking they do.