Friday, November 30, 2007

Who's the hostage?

Nothing like a hostage situation to spice up an already heated presidential campaign season.

Today's news: Man walks into Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, NH and takes hostages, claiming to have explosives ducttaped to himself. She cancels an afternoon speech at an DNC event, and some other presidential candidates' nearby campaign offices are also evacuated. Turns out, it was a man claiming to have mental probs and needing help - no explosvies, just roadflares. Here's the CNN story.

From the CNN photo, looks like a typical, not-so-crazy businessman in a shirt and tie. In a way, reminded me of the early 90's movie Falling Down, where Michael Douglass plays a working man who just melts down on his way home one day and beating and shooting his way through town. Never can tell.

Says Hillary post-hostage situation (as reported by CNN): "He was someone who was not known to my campaign headquarters until he walked in the door today." Clinton said Friday evening in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she met with the hostages and their families. "It appears he is someone who was in need of help and sought attention in absolutely the wrong way," she said. "It was for me and my campaign an especially tense and difficult day."

You don't say.... Now, let me say this: I'm not advocating or encouraging what happened today. No way, no how. But there's a deeper, symbolic issue here. One that says a lot about us.

Appears this guy had a real issue - told CNN that "I need to speak to Hillary Clinton. Something's got to change. Ordinary people need help" with their insurance. However distraught and misguided this particular man was, he's got a point. A really good point, that so many people can probably relate to. Wonder who's going to start reporting first on his story and what led Lee Eisenberg to this breaking point? Of course, how will the Clinton Camp respond? Fellow Democrats? Republicans (ironically, Lee Eisenberg was wearing a red tie.... I'm the Repubicans are silently swearing about that). You have to admit, this has campaign tactic written all over it. Just wait - she'll play this up, saying it's evidence that people are truly in trouble and desperate for help.

Maybe politicians will listen. It's unfortunate that it took someone with a gun to make that happen. Eisenberg may have been the one with the suspected weapon, but who's really the hostage here? Those trapped inside or Eisengerg himself? We obviously have a health care crisis in this country, and it's one that makes many, many people feel like a hostage being held captive by insurers and politicians. While today's scenario isn't the way to reach any solution - hopefully it doesn't send a message out that violence, threats, and hostage-taking is a way to motivate our elected leaders - it does say something about our political system and society overall. Who's the hostage here?

(On that end-thought, go watch the movie John Q - Wonder if Lee Eisenberg ever saw that movie?? Brings a whole new perspective to the concept that "movies made me do it....")

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