Megyn Kelly gets Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) to pull his car to the side of the road on his way to a townhall meeting and denounce the smear from Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer published by USA Today. Pence calls the ObamaCare proposal “the last straw” of government control, which is why it has inflamed constituencies across the nation. Pence also predicts that the editorial will have the opposite effect of what Pelosi and Hoyer intended, and that people will only object louder (via John McCormack):

Rep. Tom Price, chair of the Republican Study Committee, connects some dots on the stifling of dissent:

Meanwhile, John Boehner released his own statement, calling the Pelosi-Hoyer editorial “outrageous and reprehensible”:

“For months, House Democratic leaders have worked to silence any opposing views in this health care debate, both here in Washington and around the country where millions of Americans are struggling in this economy. Every poll taken in the last month shows that a majority of Americans are concerned about, if not outright opposed to, the Democrats’ plan because of the cost and consequences it would mean for their own health care. Each public forum should give every participant the opportunity to express their views, but to label Americans who are expressing vocal opposition to the Democrats’ plan “un-American” is outrageous and reprehensible.

“The American people deserve answers to basic questions about whether the Democrats’ plan will increase health care costs, add to the deficit, increase taxes on middle-class families and small businesses, put government between doctors and patients, force anyone to lose their current health coverage, kill jobs, promote taxpayer-funded abortion, or cut Medicare. The fact is Democrats have not been able to address the very real concerns the American people have.

“It’s time for Democrats to start listening. When we return to Washington in September, Democrats should scrap their costly plan and finally work on bipartisan reforms that give Americans what they are seeking: better access to affordable care.”

Tommy Christopher, while supporting the other arguments in the editorial, thinks the two Democrats made a huge mistake, as well as indulged in obvious hypocrisy:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today that makes a lot of excellent points about the current healthcare debate. Unfortunately, they lead with the kind of loaded statement that plays into the right’s “stifling dissent” meme. The title of the piece is ‘Un-American’ attacks can’t derail health care debate.

Forget, for a moment, whether Pelosi and Hoyer actually make an effective case for the Un-Americaninity of the town hall protesters. For the top two members of the House of Representatives to use the phrase “Un-American” bespeaks a tone-deafness beyond belief, evoking echoes of McCarthyism. It also represents a hypocritical brandishing of the patriotism cudgel that the Democrats have just spent 8 years decrying. …

The fact is, there are many things you can call the protesters, but “Un-American” isn’t one of them, especially not from a liberal standpoint. … While they are correct in denouncing things like effigies of specific members of congress, they are clearly referring to the disruptive protesters as a whole, and the language of McCarthy is inappropriate and unhelpful.

I agree with Tommy that the effigies are particularly unhelpful, although they seem to be a staple of protests from both sides these days.  We certainly didn’t hear any scolding from Pelosi and Hoyer when Sarah Palin or George Bush were the target of the effigies.  As for Tommy’s regret that the accusation took attention away from their arguments in support of ObamaCare, that looks like a feature rather than a bug.