Seven months after President Barack Obama took office promising change and offering hope, another emotion is clanging in American ears:
Anger over massive job losses in a wounded economy.
Anger over fat bonuses paid to bankers and Wall Street executives bailed out on the public dime.
Anger over foreclosures, mortgage fraud and the plight of gullible or greedy homeowners duped by predatory lenders.
And now — genuine or manufactured — anger over possible health care reform.
This week, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank squared off in yet another town-hall, cable-TV-ready exchange. A woman — holding a placard of Obama drawn with an Adolf Hitler mustache — compared health reform to the Nazi government.
"On what planet are you spending most of your time?" Frank responded. "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table."
On Monday, Sen. Claire McCaskill — who engaged voters in a shout-filled forum near St. Louis this month — will hold a town hall meeting in Kansas City, facing an audience of uncertain temperament.
In the summer of our health care discontent, anger is clearly back. What is not clear is whether anger alone will change the outcome of the debate.
But virtually every large-scale social and political movement in America — from slavery to womens suffrage, from civil rights to busing and abortion, from World War I to the war in Iraq — was either created or confronted by anger.
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