I searched for two weeks for the question, the magic question, the one to make Trent Franks break character. That's all we liberals really want in some cases, for the politicians we claim we're skewering to flinch, maybe to, at least briefly, show that chink in the armor and hope that some one gets it.
I practiced my question in the air, to my dogs, at my wife and on the phone with people. I tossed in bed with it in my mind till I wrote it in my journal, then made sure I arrived at the Assembly of God in Kingman on Saturday August 22nd, 2009, one hour and forty-five minutes early (as the manual advises-that is the right-wingers' disruptors handbook as written by Astroturf experts to disrupt, divide and deflect news coverage of townhall meetings when Democrat Congressmen came home for August break, those overweeningly upright fake Patriots, actual big pharma lobbyists, Dick Armey's Freedom Works).
Once inside I meticulously hand copied my question onto the required form for the nice local lady from the Republican Women's group and then had her double-check to make sure it was legible.
Then, as the sprinkling picked up to a drizzling, I went back to the corner of Gates and Stockton Hill Road, the access most would take to Trent Franks' "Come to Jesus and Learn to Hate Healthcare" Meeting and I set up my protest. Before long the rain blew so hard it melted some people's signs and streamed from the bill of my "Impeach Bush" ball cap. I stood with a war hero, two mothers and their teen children. And it rained.
We didn't plan anything and nobody told us what to do. We were there, each because we believed the tone of the healthcare rallies around America where right-wing disruptors had destroyed discussions was the wrong tone for a thinking headed political opposition--because we hoped quietly convey our messages to the stream of cars that filled the church parking lot. We too wanted our voices heard.
My signs, a repeat, "Insure Domestic Tranquility ... Promote the General Welfare ..." These Are the Real American Values" and a new one, "Why Does the GOP Keep Selling Us Fear, Greed, & Hate?" blew in the occasionally gushing winds, but not so much even the gray haired were unable to read them well enough to flash me a feeble finger.
Meanwhile as the rain poured, I practiced my question.
I'd poured over Franks' voting record as detailed at Vote Smart, a website Franks somehow failed to recommend when he was asked about a good place to check that record in his Saturday afternoon church revival, occasionally billed as a townhall meeting. Franks also couldn't mention Congress.org another less complete but well regarded source for congressional info used by millions across America. Franks' lack of answer on that question was telling. That question had come from one of his fans, not me. My question was this:
"Mr. Franks, you are part of the same crowd who sold us the George Bush Administration with its WMD deception that led to the deaths of over a million people, that sold us tax cuts which created massive deficits, which have crippled our economy, which sold us the stripping of American liberties in the name of security. As a millionaire you have worked very hard to help the wealthy at the expense of the many and that appears to be what you are doing now. When our healthcare system is the most expensive in the world with worst record among developed countries for actually helping the sick and the poor, here you are feverously working to spend more on weapons, but not on saving lives. My question for you is this: with such a long and distinguished record of doing what is wrong for America, why should we trust you now?"
As duly reported in the Mohave Valley Daily News, for the most part I was drowned out by booing shortly after the WMD deception clause. To their credit both Rep. Franks and the reporter from the Kingman Daily Miner did their best to follow me through the yelling. Here's what KDM's Suzanne Adams thought I asked, "Rep. Franks, you're part of the same group that during the Bush administration sold us on weapons of mass destruction, tax cuts that led to massive debts and the stripping of American liberties in the name of so called security. Right now we have a health industry that works against taking care of its citizens and you're working to maintain that status quo. Why should we trust you now?"
Which is accurate enough for me. I couldn't even hear my own speaking. One of the nice Republican ladies, the who'd seen to it I got a turn with a question after watching me hold my hand up for about 30 minutes, suddenly, and understandably, turned fire-eyed, somewhere around the line about tax cuts and deficits; and she leaned into me so fast I pulled back a bit. "You've got one minute," she whispered just above a hiss.
With that kind of noise and hatred around you, a minute is a very long time. I don't think I lasted twenty seconds.
This was after we'd already witnessed the "good citizens" of Kingman amble on for paragraphs about the prestige of their own backgrounds, the glories of their faith in Mr. Franks and Jesus, or the umpteen ways they, personally more than anyone else in the whole world knows Obama has no birth certificate. But as if a dream came true, I actually got my question asked. At least this one part of America worked this one time like they teach us to believe in schools.
And, for an instant Franks flinched. But, it turned out his answer was better still.
(Next, PART 2: Rev. "Right's" Hell House: the 33 Minute Hate)
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.