Thursday, August 13, 2009

President Obama's health care Town Hall in Portsmouth

President Obama came to Portsmouth High School on Tuesday to conduct a Town Hall forum on health care. Had he come in the front door, he would have been flanked on his left and right by those representing the left and right, as citizens from both sides of the political spectrum were awaiting his arrival. Had he not used the back door, he would have landed center stage among those playing out the frenzied, tense drama with escalated rhetoric directed, ultimately, not at him, and not at each other, but at the national audience brought by the media who swarmed the site from well before I got there at 6:45 a.m., until sometime after I left at 4:30 p.m.

I'm frustrated by the photos I took outside. You can see the crowds, read the signs. But what they don't convey is how damn loud it was--loud in an ugly way. In a scary way. In a pessimistic, hopeless this-can't-possibly-be-a-good-way-to-do-anything way.

Inside the gymnasium, the mood was celebratory: the President of the United States was about to arrive. I'd venture to guess many of those present had seen Obama before as candidate Obama--I had several times--but a presidential visit seemed different. People felt honored to be there. There was a point at which someone came out to talk to the crowd and said something about health care (I can't remember what exactly) that sent Obama supporters to their feet. That was when I saw how many people who opposed him were in the room. I was startled enough by their numbers to imagine things could get unpleasant. But the atmosphere in the room wasn't foreboding. And, after having spent the morning among the crowd outside, it felt like a love fest.

If you missed watching it on TV, it's available to watch any time on c-span. (Oh, and don't skip over the National Anthem. It was sung by high school senior, Natalie Hazzard, whose voice was sweet and clear and on pitch--no mean feat for that piece! Ordinarily, when I hear our anthem sung, I'm further convinced This Land is Your Land would be a far better choice for the country. I still think it is, but this time that wasn't my first thought!)

Enjoy the pictures!


thik vik said...

hello there .. thanks so much for posting this lovely note about my daughters singing the national anthem. natalie was so pleased to read this since she didn't get much press around our home town unfortunately.. thanks again for your kind words
vicki landry
mom to Natalie Hazard

Nancy said...

I am so thrilled you found it! I can't believe she didn't get any press--she was terrific!

I spoke to her after the meeting and told her how much I enjoyed her voice. I'm a singer, and know how difficult a piece it is; she nailed it!

I hope you got good pictures of her. Did you see the ones I posted?

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