NewsOK: Fear and Loathing at Town Meetings

Apr 29, 2009
In The News

“People are uneasy and maybe a little angry.”

That was Rep. Dan Boren’s observation about the mood of people in his eastern Oklahoma congressional district.

A couple of hours after he made that comment, Sen. Tom Coburn told me this:

“People are fearful and angry.”

Coburn made that comment before I told him what Boren had said.

Both were back in Oklahoma for the two-week Easter break and they, along with other members of the congressional delegation, traveled around the state holding town hall meetings.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, said he had 51 people come to a meeting of his in Boise City, a town in the westernmost county in the Panhandle. Doesn’t sound like many, but Lucas said it was a record for him. And he said he was given 13 tea bags at the meeting — symbols of the tea parties that were held around the country two weeks ago to protest government spending.

“People are riled up,” Lucas said.

Boren, D-Muskogee, said some of the anger stems from the federal bail-outs.

“There’s bail-out fatigue in general, whether it be TARP (the Troubled Assets Relief Program) or autos or anything. They just feel like people are being rewarded for bad decisions.”

Boren said there was also a “general malaise” and that he tried to reassure people that “we’re going to be okay.”

“We will persevere and we’ll get out of this (economic) situation,” he said.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, said people have the right to be fearful and angry.

“They have the right to be fearful because this Congress is just thinking of the short term instead of the long term. And they have the right to be angry because (lawmakers) are mortgaging the future.”

Coburn said he also had huge turn-outs at his town hall meetings.

Boren, Lucas, Coburn and other members of the delegation can be seen here talking about President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office.

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