Landrieu Caucus Grows 'Raucous'

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) held a townhall meeting in what should be the friendly locale of blue-collar Reserve, LA on Thursday afternoon. She was non-committal on HR 3200, expressing her preference for the Wyden-Bennett bill that has been introduced but will go nowhere under the current leadership. Based on the following quote, it seems that even the sympathetic Times-Picayune had a hard time ignoring the Astroturfing on the pro-Obamacare side.

Most of the questions were overwhelmingly in opposition to the general concept of “Obamacare,” a pejorative label put on House Democratic plans for a health insurance overhaul. There were scores of other, less vocal attendees who sported stickers with messages like, “Health Care Now” and “We can’t wait.” Some were part of union organizing efforts. Others came with the encouragement of the White House’s national field operation.

Reserve, you may recall, was the site of another townhall a little over a month ago — the one where a citizen informed a stunned Kathleen Sebelius that “it will be a cold day in hell before [Obama] socializes my country.”

Word of Landrieu’s return to Reserve hit the press less than 24 hours before meeting time. Despite that, an overflow crowd of up to 650 filled the meeting hall, with fire department officials denying admittance to arrivals after 1:35 p.m. Brief amateur video of Thursday’s townhall here.

… Landrieu said she will not be influenced by the political calculus of being associated with President Barack Obama — who lost Louisiana badly and remains unpopular here — or her national party leaders.

“I have my eyes not on the president or the Congress. I have my eyes on the people,” said Landrieu, … “This is not about Democrats or Republicans or President Obama. This is about listening to the people I represent and seeing if we can find a way to better coverage.”…

The senator said: “Anything we do, we have to put people first and think about people before profits. But profits are a part of our system. This is a capitalist system.” That drew enthusiastic applause and some loud comments referring to the president as a “socialist.” …

Sen. Landrieu, who frames herself as a centrist, let her partisan stripes show a bit in response to a woman who attacked “government waste” and “deficit spending” and told the senator to fix it. The senator’s response: “The last time the federal budget was balanced was as Bill Clinton left office.” The boos — presumably directed at the Democratic former president — smothered the applause, if there was any. …

The loudest cheer of the afternoon came in response to the question about whether Landrieu would commit to vote against a bill “which does not specifically exclude taxpayer funded abortion.”

“I do not support taxpayer funded abortion. I do support people’s choice under the Constitution.” That prompted a reaction that drowned out the rest of the senator’s answer.

The next loudest cheers followed on a doctor’s statement about the need for “tort reform” and a questioner who said, “We need to stop President Obama from getting cap-and-trade.” The same man brandished a copy of the U.S. Constitution and said, “Where does the federal government get any right to stick its hands anywhere in the health care system.”

Tough crowd, eh, Mary?