posted at 2:01 pm on February 10, 2017 by Allahpundit
I’m giving you the Salt Lake Tribune’s video of the entire townhall not because you’ll watch it all (good lord, who would?) but so that you can skip around and see the sheer stamina of the rowdiness. This isn’t a few raucous minutes in an hour and a half; this is a crowd that came to jeer the whole way through. It’s impossible not to think of the jeering at townhalls hosted by Democrats in 2009, as ObamaCare — and the tea party — were first coming together. Lots of political blather later has been devoted lately to the idea that the left is building its own de facto tea party under Trump, which is part and parcel of the broader progressive strategy that all Republican tactics used during the age of Obama — beginning with dogged opposition in the Senate — should be turned against the GOP now. If you’re looking for a data point that the left’s grassroots are galvanizing the way the right’s did eight years ago, here’s one.
The chief topic at Chaffetz’s townhall wasn’t ObamaCare, though. It was mostly about Trump, particularly his conflicts of interest and Chaffetz’s role in policing them as chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Ironically this meeting was held on the very day that Chaffetz did demand answers from the White House on an ethical breach (namely, Kellyanne Conway hawking Ivanka’s clothing line on Fox News). Didn’t do much to appease the crowd, though.
Melissa Batka Thomas, from Salt Lake City, steadied her shaking hands as she read a quote from Chaffetz in which he called on presidential candidates to release their tax returns and “show everything.”…
The congressman said, as he has before, that the president is “exempt” from conflict of interest laws. “Until there is evidence that [Trump] has somehow overused that to ingratiate his family …” Chaffetz said before boos cut him off.
He also stood by his vote for Trump, though he had at one point during the campaign suggested that he wouldn’t cast his ballot that way.
“By far, Donald Trump was the better choice,” he said with a smirk, knowing it would upset the crowd. “There was no possible way I was ever going to vote for Hillary Clinton.”
With so much acrimony in the room, does Chaffetz have to worry about his House seat next year? Anything’s possible … but nah, probably not:
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) February 10, 2017
How many out-of-towners were there to cheer for Team Blue is impossible to say, but Chaffetz has a lot of margin for error electorally. He won reelection last year by a breezy 47 points. (Good luck unseating a Republican in Utah, Democrats.) GOP Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee, who also hosted a contentious townhall of her own last night, won in November by just a shade under 50 points, 71.1/21.8. National waves do happen to unpopular presidents, perhaps especially when they’re busy working on massive health-care overhauls, but that would have to be some wave to reach deep red states. If you’re so inclined, you could treat the videos below not as a warning that Chaffetz and Black are in any trouble but as an early sign, perhaps, of how revved up the left will be to bounce more vulnerable House Republicans in 2018. Read this Robert Tracinski piece before you do, though. Yelling at townhalls is easy, voting in wave-like numbers is hard.
Here are a few short clips, one from Chaffetz’s townhall that captures the mood and two from Black’s, which show how central ObamaCare was to that one, followed by full-length video of the Chaffetz event.
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) February 10, 2017
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) February 10, 2017
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) February 10, 2017