August 14, 2009
Much has been made of the chance for true, interactive democracy offered by the freewheeling town hall format that lawmakers are using in health care forums across the country.
But what the White House is calling a "town hall meeting" does not quite follow in the tradition of the public-driven forums that sprouted centuries ago in New England.
It's more like a press conference for the public.
In an orderly fashion, selected members of the audience pose brief questions, and the president elaborates.
And elaborates. And elaborates.
A look at President Obama's health care "town hall" Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H., shows the president out-spoke his audience by a ratio of nearly 9-to-1.
Here's the scorecard.
Obama: 8,619 words.
Audience: 1,186 words.
That's what you get when you combine a tendency to ramble (and ramble and ramble some more) with a guy who's obviously in love with the sound of his own voice. His State of the Union addresses are going to be deadly.
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