The meeting was very organized, even with the overflow crowd. This particular Tea Party bills itself as non-partisan and candidate for CD-29 Frank Mazzapica got a taste of it when he was admonished for trying to pass out literature inside the meeting. While Dr. Fry was speaking. Frank…you know better. Arrive early, set up a booth and get your message out. Typical for these meetings, it started with a prayer, the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. Normally, these national anthem renditions are not something to write home about but this one…wow! I wish I had recorded it, the lady that sang it did a spectacular job.
Dr. Fry was the first speaker and presented much the same information that he presented at the Houston Tea Party Health Care Town Hall. He discussed the supply/demand curves of both private and public health care. I will say that in this presentation, he was much more “aggressive” in discussing the current health care reform bill, HR3200, than he was at the earlier meeting. His disdain for the administration and Congress was palpable whereas at the first meeting it was a dry, although lively, economic presentation. He was having problems with his slide-show and that seemed to frustrate him a little and he spent more time on health care than he intended, cutting his remarks on the Cap/Trade bill short.
UPDATE: Dr. Fry has provided us with his complete presentation from last night, including his slides on the Cap/Trade legislation, which was cut short due to time. Click here: Dr. Clifford Fry Presentation to the San Jacinto Tea Party September 10, 2009
UPDATE 2: I was finally able to upload the video from his presentation.
The second speaker up was Dr. Mary Hewitt, a family practitioner from Baytown. I don’t really know what to say about her except, well, she’s…angry. Very. While Dr. Fry was full of facts and information, she was full of vitriol. Did I mention she’s angry? But interestingly, that is exactly what this crowd wanted. They wanted to yell. Vent. Scream. And she gave them all of that and more. She was the only speaker to get a standing ovation. In fact, she got three of them. She wants her country back. She doesn’t want seniors to lose Medicare (more on that in a bit). She doesn’t want death panels. She doesn’t want UK style socialized medicine because over there, if they deny you an operation, the only way you can get it is to pay for it out of your own pocket. Imagine that. Did I mention she’s angry? As in blood vessel popping angry? Not my cup of tea (heh) but the crowd ate this stuff up.
And then it was the Apostle’s turn. I’ll admit to being skeptical about him when I first saw him speak back in February. First off, I’m skeptical of anyone calling themselves an Apostle. Just my upbringing. Second, to me, he came across as a circus showman out to make a buck. The Republican version of Quannel X, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton all rolled into one. But first impressions aren’t always correct and certainly were not in this case.
Claver is the real deal, as best as I can tell. I’ve been to meeting after meeting, rally after rally, listened to radio show after radio show and his message remains the same – if Republicans want to get back in power, they have to do the hard work of winning elections. They must walk the talk. They must reach out to minority communities and convince blacks and Hispanics to vote with them. And he isn’t afraid to say be critical of the party when it is deserved. Last night was no exception.
He started his speech by saying he was going to keep it short because the hour was late. Because of that, he wasn’t going to use his typical Powerpoint presentation because it is 45 minutes long. Dude, get a watch. You talked for 43 minutes! Like they say, time stands still when you put a microphone in a preacher’s hand in front of an audience willing to listen. Although many left after the Dr.’s rant (did I mention she was angry), the room was still full.
As is his routine, he compared and contrasted the platforms of the two parties, concluding that if people vote their faith, there is but one choice and that choice is the Republican Party. For all of the efforts to call Tea Parties non-partisan, the truth is that everyone attending these meetings is going to vote for the Republican, except in the rare case of a Libertarian being on the ballot. Claver insists that it is not the time for a third party and that real change will come only by cleaning up the Republican Party and sticking to the platform in place.
He received polite applause for the most part, certainly no standing ovations. There was much laughter when he stated that to win, the party needs people of all skin colors and then told the people to look around. One of the organizers yelled out “We tried!” and got more laughter. There was, however, no laughter or even polite applause on two of his lines.
The first one was his line about reaching the single mother feeding three kids Cheerios for dinner. Conservatives are going to need to do more than talk about personal responsibility to reach her. The second one, certainly nothing you would hear from HCRP Chair Jared Woodfill, is that we need to fundamentally change Medicare, as in eliminate it and try something different. Not popular.
It takes courage to do what Claver is doing but it is necessary if Republicans expect to win. As he says, this isn’t a short term game plan. Sure, if Obama and the Democrats continue to display the blatant arrogance that we’ve seen this year, the Republicans might make huge gains in 2010. But those gains would be temporary, at best, because of the changing demographics of the country. Rather than wait for the other team to fail, Claver says that Republicans need to be on the offense, reaching out, expanding the base, teaching conservative principles. And living them. Although he didn’t get any standing ovations, I have to think that eventually truth will win out over angry rants.
That basically ended the evening, although one of the organizers talked for a bit about the Second Amendment and what it means to the continued freedom of the country. Then the singer that opened the evening closed it with God Bless America.
All in all, the evening provided great insight into the attendees at these meetings. Enthusiastic support for Dr. Fry’s facts and figures. Ear splitting ovations to the anger of Dr. Hewitt. And polite response to the pleadings of Apostle Claver to look to the future, stop ranting and start working.