Frank Blasts Nazi Comparisons From LaRouche Backers
By Garance Franke-Ruta and Sarah Lovenheim
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was greeted with shouts and boos at a town hall meeting on health care at a senior center in Dartmouth, Mass., Tuesday night, an event that was targeted by supporters of perennial independent political candidate Lyndon LaRouche. But the combative House Financial Services Committee chairman met fire with fire.
"On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank retorted when Rachel Brown of the LaRouche Youth Movement compared President Obama's push for health-care reform to the policies of Nazi Germany while holding up a pamphlet depicting the president with a Hitler mustache, a LaRouche anti-Obama health reform campaign image.
"This policy is actually already on its way out. It already has been defeated by LaRouche. My question to you is, why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?" Brown had asked.
"You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis," Frank, who is Jewish, blasted back.
"Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table," he continued. "... I have no interest in doing it."
Video of Frank's remarks quickly went viral online and was shown repeatedly on cable television.
Protesters had greeted attendees of the meeting, organized by the Democratic Town Committee of Dartmouth, by distributing pamphlets criticizing Frank's push for reform and Obama's plan. Images of Obama as Hitler were visible on several of the pamphlets seen in videos of the event. Some protesters held posters that read, "It's the economy stupid, stop the spending," the Associated Press reported.
Ray Medeiros, chairman of the Dartmouth Democratic Party, said the pamphlets came from LaRouche supporters, and that the woman who ticked off Frank was one of about 20 who came to the meeting. Brock Cordiero, the regional chair of the Massachusetts GOP, said Brown was passing out pamphlets from a table with a LaRouche PAC banner on it before the town hall meeting and that he and Medeiros spent a fair bit of time during the meeting trying to contain the disruptions the LaRouche supporters were causing. "They were there to cause problems," he said.
Cordiero, concerned attendees might mistake LaRouche supporters for Republicans, said he went out of his way at the meeting to repudiate the Hitler-Obama imagery in remarks to Frank. "I saw media reports there was Republican booing and jeering," said Cordiero Thursday. "That's not the case."
To those who interrupted Frank's remarks during the event, the congressman from Massachusetts jabbed, "Disruption never helps your cause. ... It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion."
Medeiros said that he had encouraged protesters, mostly young people, to leave but that they wouldn't budge. "This is a Democratic Town Committee meeting. We called the meeting to order!" he said he eventually yelled after one refused to clear floor space.
LaRouche PAC has been waging an intensifying campaign against the Obama and congressional health reform proposals since the president's nationally televised news conference of July 22, when he called for an "an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare." The group has interpreted that statement as ordering euthanasia.
"LaRouche PAC members are giving leadership to these town hall meetings all around the country so we are being at any one that we possibly can," LaRouche PAC spokeswoman Nancy Spannaus told The Post of the group's presence in Massachusetts.
"Our Obama mustache poster....It symbolizes the fact that the president is attempting to implement a Hitler health care policy," she said. "At any town hall, you'll know LaRouche people are there if you just look for the mustache."