There was a tea party rally yesterday (8-7-10) at Spanish Landing along San Diego Harbor, organized by a so-called “doctors” group against – what the extreme right calls – “Obamacare” – the newly enacted federal medical care reforms. Yet the rally – attended by approximately 400 protesters – displayed something rally organizers are not swift to admit – dwindling numbers of tea party activists coming out to such events – as earlier tea party rallies had upwards of a thousand people.
A small group of counter-protesters were out there in the sun as well, holding signs supporting medicare for all. About a dozen folks – organized by a progressive group of local doctors and healthcare workers – Physicians for a National Health Program – had somehow found parking and managed to get to the sidelines of the much larger crowd.
Tea-party favorite and Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle was there and spoke to the crowd at the National Doctors Tea Party rally. Roger Hedgecock, the former mayor-turned- felon-turned-national radio show host, was also on hand.
A number of people were circulating through the crowd wearing white lab coats – implying that they were doctors. But they weren’t. The Union-Tribune discovered that:
Craig Brown, a psychiatrist who lives in Del Mar, donned a white lab coat and wore a stethoscope around his neck … “I’m against ObamaCare,” Brown said. “It doesn’t achieve the goals of reduced health-care spending and because it will increase regulation and create more government agencies.” Brown said he borrowed the white coat from a nearby lab because a website suggested people wear lab coats to the event.
The rally provided a captive audience for hawkers offering framed copies of the Constitution for $150, for local right-wing politicians who set up tables on the outskirts of the rally, and for parking at the Sheraton dirt lot for $10 cash. (Parking for the event was non-existent by 12 noon – which may account for the low turn-out of tea party activists and counter-protesters.)
There are actually only two local San Diego medical doctors that belong to the sponsoring group, National Doctors Tea Party, Drs. Adam Dorin and Wayne Iverson.
Dr. Wayne Iverson practices internal medicine in La Jolla, and has spoken at other tea party events. Iverson openly supports the far-right extremist Rep. Michele Bachmann – who calls liberals “traitors.”
Dr. Dorin is the Medical Director and Anesthesiologist at Sharp Grossmont Plaza Surgery Center. Dorin, besides being a tea party activist, has also written a book entitled Jihad and American Medicine – (recently reviewed on the extremist blog “Islam Watch”) who says we need to think like a terrorist to anticipate attacks on our health system (besides the pharmaceutical companies, I suppose.)
There were the usual extremist hand-painted signs. Yet, they seemed old, weathered – as if they’ve been in a closet for 6 months.
The Nevada tea party politician Sharron Angle has a habit of avoiding even mainstream media because – as she has told us – they don’t support her campaign against Democratic Senator and stalwart Harry Reid.
I caught up with her as she was leaving the rally scene. She was being “interviewed” by a woman reporter and her cameraman. But something was wrong – I had never heard of their call letters and the reporter was not asking any real questions. Angle appeared to have at least four handlers surrounding her. One counter-protester kept asking her when she was going to appear on the Rachel Maddow show. There was no real media asking her anything. By time I had gotten my thoughts around the prospect of asking her something meaningful, her entourage had turned and slivered away.
Perhaps it was the sunshine that had finally arrived in San Diego, perhaps it was the lack of parking, or perhaps it was simply the passage of time and its accompanied experience with real health care reform, that has dwindled the numbers of tea party activists – as seen from those that had assembled for this event. At any rate, the signs dissing “Obamacare” seemed stale and out-of-date. In fact, one of the speakers agreed. He extolled the crowd to take on other “non-materialistic” issues – like the “sanctity of marriage.”