Jeers For Rep. Olson's "Britney" Argument

August 31, 2009 2:59 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

As others have noted, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) was recently jeered at a town hall meeting for suggesting that a public health insurance option would have prevented a baby from being born:

Olson told the story of Britney, a pregnant woman who couldn't find a doctor who would treat her unborn child's heart defect. After being turned away by several, she hunted down a specialist in Detroit who was willing to perform the procedure. Britney is convinced that her son would not have been born if there was a public option then, and she wouldn't have had the choices to find the doctor that she wants.

Over applause, a number of audience members audibly groan. "Oh Jesus Crist, that's terrible," says one attendee. "That's not true," says another.

"For those of you who say it's not true, don't talk to me, talk to Britney," Olson responded.

Olson clearly knew he was misleading his constituents, which is why he tried to exonerate himself by pinning the blame on Britney. "It was her, not me!" is basically his excuse. Well, that's not good enough. 

Presumably, Britney is neither a legislator nor a health care expert.  Rather, she's probably just scared and confused like so many Americans (thanks in no small part to the tactics of Olson and his GOP colleagues).  That doesn't mean her fears are irrelevant.  But it does mean that her opinion of what might happen shouldn't be the basis for any serious argument made by a congressman who knows better.   

In fact, it's Olson's job to ease the worries of people like Britney by explaining what legislation would really do.  Instead, he's using her fear to make sure even more of the public is scared and confused like she is.