It wasn't clear whether Congressman Jerry Lewis' acknowledgement of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy's death a day earlier was out of respect, or a subtle rallying cry. But when he asked attendees of last Wednesday's health care town hall event for a moment of silence in honor of the controversial politician the occasional murmurs were soft but clear enough to be heard.


The presence of Kennedy, an unrelenting advocate for government-run health care, haunted the overflow crowd of angry conservatives bent on getting government out of their lives and health care reform off the U.S. agenda.


"He would vote for all the things we're against," one man said later during the public comment portion of the event at Victor Valley College's Performing Arts Center.


But the hundreds in attendance weren't only angry at a phantom politician, many of those who spoke excoriated liberals and the key political players seeking to socialize their great nation. They were worried that changes in health care to a single-payer system could put their health even their lives in peril.


"Under the Obamanation program I'd be dead today," said one cancer survivor.


An angry woman who was critical of President Barack Obama's plan was clear about her feelings for the new president, who she said was attempting to foist European-style socialism on America.


"Let him go back to Europe. Let him go back to Africa," she said.


The woman wasn't the only one to tell someone where they could go: "Those people who want a single-payer system go to Canada!" another attendee said.


The evening's longest applause, however, came after a Hesperia businesswoman read a letter from a new American citizen. According to the letter, the woman criticized the government for letting illegal residents, a number of whom receive costly public services, stay in the country. Applause broke out for at least 15 seconds following the businesswoman's address.


Despite the often heated tone, several defended the town hall attendees.


"We're not mobs or astroturf people," one woman said. "We're Americans."


While the congressman was calm and tactful in his approach, he made his concerns clear.


"This is crisis time," said Lewis, adding, "[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi is committed to a single-payer, government-run health care system."


When asked if the health care bill, H.R. 3200, could pass, he said, "Yes. Nancy Pelosi has the votes."


According to Lewis, the fate of the vote, however, rests in the hands of moderate Democrats, known as "blue dogs."


With all at stake, Lewis urged those against nationalizing health care to make their side heard. Stand up and fight for what you believe in, he said.


"Let's don't kid ourselves," Lewis said. "We've got a big battle ahead of us."


Before President John Kennedy was assassinated he said, "We choose to go to the Moon." Less than a decade later his words became fact. Will health care reform be Ted Kennedy's lunar shot? Will his agenda to have American taxpayers shoulder an endless amount of health care costs for all (even for those who don't reside here legally) come to fruition, even after his death?


History will tell.


***


One Hesperia Star reader pointed out that I may have not been politically correct when I suggested that President Barack Obama has ridden on his "white steed." It turns out that workers at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (not exactly a local entity) have been issued a style guide to keep them in line.


The guide condemns expressions like "right-hand man" and "gentleman's agreement." And instead of "black day" they are encouraged to say "miserable day."


I used the phrase "white steed" to say Obama was riding in heroically to save the day like he was a knight on a white horse. I guess heroes can ride black horses too. Insteading of riding his white steed should I have said the President was riding his black stallion?


Perhaps I should stay away from horse imagery altogether.