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Dems Feign Shock Over Backlash Against HC

By Nolan Finley, Detroit News - March 28, 2010

People get loud and angry when they feel as if they're being ignored.

Unfortunately, they sometimes also get ugly.

Democrats stubbornly refused to listen to the tremendous public outcry against their health care package. They attempted to minimize the protests and marginalize the protesters. But now that they've shoved the bill down America's throat, they're feigning shock -- and even fear -- at the vehemence of the backlash.

They say they're being terrorized by potentially violent opponents of the health care bill, and produce stacks of letters, e-mails and phone messages they claim make them fearful of their lives.

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Sprinkled among them are what may be a few legitimate threats. This is a wholly unacceptable way to react to losing a political fight, and should be dealt with seriously by law enforcement agencies.

But most of what is being passed off as menacing is nothing more than old-fashioned hate mail. Much of it is crude and offensive, a lot of it is inappropriate, but it doesn't rise to the level of a threat.

For example, the office of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, is under guard after he received a mountain of angry messages for flip-flopping on abortion funding. Many of the message senders call him vile names and bid him a miserable end. But they stop short of warning of intent to do harm.

Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, takes as a threat a message expressing the wish that he die a slow and painful death from cancer. That's nasty business. But it's no worse than the e-mails that pop into my inbox.

For a long stretch, I heard from a detractor who wanted me separated from body parts that I'm rather fond of. I felt intensely unloved, but never in danger of losing my vitals.

There's nothing new here. Hatred has been part of politics for some time. Ask former President George W. Bush about his mail. Bush loathers even made a movie fantasizing about his assassination.

The real threat presented by the hate mail is to the Democratic pretense that they've passed a bill demanded and welcomed by the American people. Neither Stupak nor Schauer can say with any credibility that their votes represented the will of their right-of-center Michigan districts.

Nor can the Democratic caucus as a whole. Democrats won the White House and control of Congress on the votes of a broad majority of the country. Then they declared a mandate to govern on behalf of their narrow partisan base.

That's why people are angry. They feel betrayed. And they don't get a sense that their feelings matter in Washington.

Elections have consequences. But so does political arrogance. Democrats made a higher priority of delivering a political victory for President Barack Obama than serving the nation with good policymaking.

Now they're learning that the majority isn't silent. If Democrats keep pretending not to hear the people, they'll only grow louder and angrier.

Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The News.

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Over the last year, nearly 16,000 felons have been eligible for parole in Michigan and the state says it is releasing felons at a faster rate to lower corrections costs.

© Copyright 2010 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.

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