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Special Report

Why One Lawmaker Won't Be Holding Any Town Halls on Health Care

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Whipping Boy

One prominent Democrat is defending his decision not to hold town hall meetings on health care reform. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin says he doesn't plan to hold large-scale events with his constituents because they have turned into shouting matches elsewhere. The senator told reporters from the Herald & Review: "I don't think that's a productive use of my time." Instead Durbin has been focusing on meeting with health care practitioners and smaller groups of citizens.

A survey of three conservative blogs indicates two-thirds of the members of Congress are choosing not to hold town halls. One of those was Texas Democratic Representative Chet Edwards, who was going to limit himself to town halls over the phone, until multiple protests in front of his district offices forced him to give in.

One New York congressman is planning to hold town halls but not necessarily to listen to participants. Democrat Eric Massa admitted to a group at a Netroots Nation conference that he would vote for a single-payer bill no matter what his constituents think. The Washington Times quoted him saying, "I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district... I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them." But, Congressman Massa's Web site states: "As your member of Congress, my number-one priority is serving you."

Fairy Tale Flop

A creative engagement proposal has turned into a headache for Maryland Democratic State Delegate Jon Cardin, nephew of Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.

Baltimore police are now investigating why on-duty Marine and helicopter officers helped Cardin propose to his girlfriend by pretending to raid a boat the couple was aboard. Authorities say the stunt was a misuse of police resources at a time when the department is strapped for cash. Baltimore P.D. acknowledged poor judgment on the officers' part and the department's spokesman Anthony Gugliemi said that, "The Police Department is not in the business of renting out the helicopter and the boats for bachelor parties and birthdays."

Cardin is now promising to reimburse the city for whatever costs were incurred.

Friend Request Pending

And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd doesn't hold Sarah Palin or the social networking site Facebook in high regard. Dowd writes in her latest column: "(Palin) took a forum more commonly used by kids hooking up and cyberstalking, and... managed to hijack the health care debate from Mister Obama."

The Nielsen Company says Facebook's greatest growth has come from people ages 35 to 49. Last year, the site added almost twice as many 50 to 64 year old visitors than it did those under the age of 18.

Also, Dowd does have her own fan page on Facebook, presumably not used for hooking up or cyberstalking.

— FOX News Channel's Lanna Brit contributed to this report.