According to the Kansas City Fox affiliate (via TPM DC), Congressman Dennis Moore, who represents northeastern Kansas and is the only Democratic representative from Kansas, has cancelled public events after credible death threats. He tells the reporter that he’s gotten two separate threats, and finds this turn of events unacceptable. “I expect to have differences with people, differences of opinion. And, I respect people’s opinions,” he said. “But, I expect exchanges we have to be respectful and not threatening. As a former prosecutor, I certainly do not tolerate threats well and that’s why I contacted the police department.”

I checked with his staff, and everyone is OK, but concerned. Moore represents the district where George Tiller’s (alleged) murderer lived and was arrested. It’s a highly heterogeneous district, with liberal Lawrence lumped together with evangelical churches that spawned the state’s anti-evolution and anti-gay activism. He has to walk a fine line, and threats of violence don’t help him find ways to improve health insurance for all of his constituents.

The logic of these threats is bizarre. Moore is a prominent Blue Dog; that group has a reputation for slowing progress toward a bill and for watering down provisions of the reform bills in the House. While Moore’s name hasn’t come up much in the health insurance debates, I’d hardly think opponents of the reform would instantly regard him as an enemy. Nor, of course, should reform advocates regard him as an enemy. He’s in a tough situation, and I can’t see why anyone would want to push him away.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (who replaced Nancy Boyda as the representative of the Kansas 2nd) has presented health insurance staff at town halls to defend her stance against insurance reform. She claimed to possess a plan for healthcare, telling voters: “We have a plan, but we haven’t been invited to the table to present it.” Kansas Democratic Party executive director Kenny Johnston responds: “If Lynn Jenkins has a plan that can reduce suffering she has a moral obligation to share it so Congress and the American people can weigh in. Every day she keeps her plan secret another 70 Kansans lose their health insurance coverage.”

Johnston shows the way to have a policy debate. Not with death threats, not with lies about “death panels,” but with clearly articulated arguments addressing actual policies. It’s fair to ask why Jenkins is shilling for the insurance industry, and why she won’t present whatever plan she might have. It’s fair to ask disagree with choices Moore has made in negotiating insurance reform. It’s not fair to demonize him and threaten him for trying to make things better for Kansans.

Comments

  1. #1 Sunny
    August 13, 2009

    Interesting comment on the NYT seems to apply specifically to the sunflower state:
    [quote]
    Mark R
    NY
    August 13th, 2009
    11:14 am
    Then again, people shoot abortion doctors in this country. Conservatives will kill for the right of the unborn to be born, but once you’re out of the womb, you’re on your own, Jack. Pull yourself up by your baby bootstraps, there ain’t no free lunch, you baby! Christian charity seems to end when the contractions start. [end quote]

    _____

    That about nails the average “Christian” Kansan for sure, and the described attitude seems to apply across the board to all hot button issues including, as we’ve seen recently, health care reform.

    Congressman Moore has my best thoughts. I hope the kooks who threatened him only serve to strengthen his resolve and that of his supporters. Please keep us informed regarding the police investigation.

  2. #2 insurance
    August 15, 2009

    Hmmm thats bad. But its the first time I am hearing like this

  3. #3 Jim
    August 16, 2009

    I cannot express my frustration and concern about these attacks on our democracy. First, we have individuals in the media who advocate the need to stop democracy by limiting the ability of us, the citizens, to engage our legislators in a serious Q&A about issues of great importance. Then we have individuals who these media and other special interest groups have agitated into “visible” activism against the government and their fellow citizens by advocating or supporting threats of physical harm if their political agenda is not adhered to by the individual or individuals. The use of physical harm to drive a particular political view is terrorism.

    I recently had an opportunity to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. During my time at the Memorial, I was sad, happy, and angry. Why was I angry? Attacks on our country and citizens by people from other countries is a serious concern. More serious are attacks, or the threat of attacks, by our citizens. Terrorism has a different perspective when we realize that the enemy may be individuals who are our fellow citizens.

    We may have different opinions on the role of our government but, to ensure our right to self-governance, we must be unified in the protection of the rights for all to present opinions and views that are in fora that support public discourse. Monopolizing a meeting with the intent to disrupte the opportunity for such discourse is another form of terrorism.

    Inciting fear to compromise our right to gather and engage in such discourse cannot be tolerated by any of us. If an injury results from the yelling of fire in a crowd, the individual who yelled fire will be held culpable for any such injury. Those who agitate with the intent to incite fear are equally culpable.

    If we are to survive as a nation, we must become unified in the right to public discourse.

  4. #4 best electronic cigarette
    August 26, 2009

    It is interesting to note that people become so passionate and obsessive over government ideas, apparently enough to issue death threats.