Outside The Beltway

As the health care debate moves outside the Beltway, we're already getting a taste of how the voters back home are greeting lawmakers returning from Washington, D.C. for their Summer break.

Our first stop is in Austin, Texas, where Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) got an earful from some health care demonstrators - http://bit.ly/10umpb

I wonder how many Democrats will really be ready for that kind of reception?  Doggett isn't even one of those lawmakers that I would consider "in play" on an issue like this, though he did waver on the Cap and Trade vote.

From Texas, we go to New York, where Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop had a hostile reception at his own gathering of voters in his district on Long Island.

A bunch of it is already on You Tube at http://bit.ly/GneVF .

Last night, another raucous town hall took place in Wisconsin for Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen, who got an earful on health care reform as well http://bit.ly/1tMw .

Some of this is part of what's being billed as Operation Embarrass Your Congressman, which has the possibility of catching fire - in a viral way - on the internet, as long as the people involved don't go overboard with it.

On their web site, the group urges people to be cool, calm and collected.

"Don't go to disrupt or shout down your Representative. Let them talk, but ask pointed questions and respectfully demand an intelligent, true response. If you go and plan to act like an idiot or "take over" the meeting, don't bother."

Here is the link for those of you who want to check it out - http://bit.ly/lQI2H .

Also getting the "outrage" treatment at a public meeting on Sunday was Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who warned his colleagues to expect the same kind of treatment in coming weeks.

Frankly, I expect these kinds of confrontations to explode in coming weeks, all around the nation, but especially where Democratic lawmakers hold a seat in a swing district, or in a Red state.

Democrats will try to portray most of this as the rantings of Republican mobs.

But the video, the confrontational aspect of it, and the way lawmakers react, has all of the possibilities of being a real hit on You Tube and on the TV news as well.

So keep your eyes open for town hall meetings and more in your area involving Democrats in your Congressional delegations. It might be something to go see in person.

This health care reform story is moving outside the Beltway now, and you may be in a better position to find out what's happening on the ground than we are on Capitol Hill.