I used to go to the townhall meetings a local Congressman, Randy Kuhl, held throughout the year. Some of my hippie friends got on his case with hostile anti-Iraq War questions (note though that they were models of civility compared to the anti-ACA teahadist townhallers), but I never thought that worked well, since it just made Kuhl look like this good guy who tirelessly traveled the district facing tough questions.
When you start charging people $15 to attend your townhall meetings, the dynamic changes completely. If I were in Paul Ryan’s district, I’d be tempted to get together with a few friends and pay 15 bucks a pop to show up and ask Paul Ryan some tough questions, then hopefully get bum-rushed by rent-a-cops, or at least jeered by Ryan’s crazy cultists. Film the whole thing with a cell phone, put it on YouTube, and you’ve got a PR headache for ol’ blue eyes.
It’s harder to accomplish this at an open townhall without looking like an asshole.
Update. Culture of Truth:
“I’m paying for this microphone!”