Our point from the beginning as the recent “townhaller” movement began to build steam, and unleash its ugly self upon congressional recess events around the country, was the disconnect we noticed between media coverage of the protests and the truth of what these people were actually displaying on their placards. A certain legitimacy was being conferred on the viewpoint of these protesters that we don’t think was ever deserved–pundits voicing over on TV about tax burdens and deficits while protesters scream about Obama killing their grandparents on the muted screens behind them.
And it didn’t seem like much was happening to rectify this growing disconnect–Democrats were doing their best to pin the “mob” label on these protests, inviting he-said she-said bickering that may have egged on the protesters more than it helped Democrats. What was needed was a figure of undeniable prominence, and we don’t mean some talk-show host or Fox News anchor, to give the full-throated craziness at these protests a face everybody could recognize.
Enter Sarah Palin. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Writing on her Facebook account, she said that under President Obama’s version of healthcare, her son, Trig, who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, would “have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”
She called the plan “downright evil.”
Only she and her closest confidants will know if this is how she sought to “effect change” – though a few keystrokes and web post. But there is little doubt that it has again put her in the national conversation…
You might say that. Apparently, she’s also helped put some other things into the national conversation–that is, the striking similarity between Sarah Palin’s nutty, indefensible claims…and that of the protesters. CNN finally started talking about this in detail yesterday:
Senators this week joined their colleagues from the House at town hall meetings as they spent their August recess in their home districts.
But disruptive protests are turning town hall meetings into shouting matches and drowning out discussion over what is and isn’t in health care plans in the House and Senate.
Videos of the protests have been circulating on the Internet, showing raucous crowds heckling their congressmen, and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers’ heads, swastikas or Obama with Adolf Hitler’s mustache…
Democratic Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina even had a death threat phoned into his office. A caller said that if Miller supported Obama’s plan, it could cost him his life, Miller told CNN.
“Of course we want a full debate. Of course we want people who have dissenting views from the administration and Congress to have a full hearing. But that’s not what this is about. That’s not the intent of most of these people. It’s not the way the press is covering it,” Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for TIME magazine, said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
The protesters’ gimmicks, Halperin said, are grabbing the public and media’s attention, and valid arguments over the cost and content of the proposals are being put on the back burner.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re reaching the tipping point here. These protests have raged for over a week, mishandled to the point of abetment in the press, credited as a “sincere movement” when casual examination reveals a manufacture of lobbying and D.C.-based conservative advocacy groups, rousting up protesters ranging from the merely disinformed to truly loopy fringe adherents of conspiracy theory–the latter finally given a spokesperson in the form of last year’s GOP vice presidential candidate. Thanks to her, lots of other questions are now being asked about what these people are saying and doing–and who benefits.
And just when everything was going so well…
Propaganda cannot be countered with facts. It is indoctrination and it is a psychological phenomena. The current propaganda is to equate “end of life” discussions with forced euthanasia; Sarah Palin’s posting was very effective because it reached so many people, and the msm thoughtfully distributed it to those who may not have read the original posting.
I, for one, take the campaign and its success very seriously.
Yes, what would Ronald Reagan do. Somehow I have a hard time seeing the idol of the conservative movement encouraging the raging, out of control mobs. Maybe I’m wrong. You’re correct, dwyer — the success of extremism, indoctrination, propaganda, should not be minimized or denied. If voices of reason cannot overcome the enraged voices of a brainwashed mob, then we’re in real trouble.
Strikingly similar in many ways. Sad that we haven’t evolved any. I’m not calling anyone a Nazi mind you but the techniques of propaganda are mostly the same now as they were then.
Honestly, all of this “organizing” on the Right reminds me more of the way Sam Adams worked the media in the early 1770s more than anything else.
Sell the people a revolution then, when it’s accomplished, re-brand it as an independence movement only, and slap them with a state tax to pay for it all, one that led to an actual armed revolution (Shay’s) which was put down with, you guessed it, government troops on the tax-payer dime.
Here’s how it plays out this time, IF they get their way, and if the Right gains seats in 2010. The political “revolution” against Obamacare will be re-branded the triumph of the free market, and the “revolutionaries” will be told they’re on their own…it’s what they wanted. Then, when health-care proves to expensive to provide on the free market, all private health-care benefits will be taxed (per the McCain proposal), and those who oppose will be branded unpatriotic and locked out of “town halls” much as they were during the Bush Administration.
Or, we can compromise the way “dissenting voices” did at Philadelphia in 1787, and come up with a public-spirited plan that works, NOW. Sounds pretty obvious, to me. But politics is never about the obvious.
Reagan gave his first post-convention speech of the 1980 Presidential Campaign in Philadelphia, MS, which was noted for the disappearance and murder of three civil rights workers in 1964. The murders served as a basis for the movie Mississippi Burning. Reagan’s choice of topics to speak on in Philadelphia, MS? States Rights.
Reagan was very skilled at using wedge issues (race especially….remember his use of the “Welfare Queen”?) and inciting division. He also began the process of demonizing the term “liberal”.
To this day, I have a T-shirt that I got printed in 1982 when I was infuriated by Reagan’s minimizing of the problems of the unemployed, and complaining about media coverage of people losing their jobs. RR asked, “Is it news that some fellow in South Succotash some place has just been laid off – that he should be interviewed nationwide?”
What’s imprinted on my T-shirt? “South Succotash Home of the Brave”
Let Sarah Palin and those of her ilk rage all day and night about the end of life counseling (which goes on in every oncologists office in America right now). Let them lie and screech all day. We are reaching a tipping point where this makes no sense and the public knows it.
In their hearts, the overwhelming majority of the American people, including those who oppose the bill for other reasons, know that President Obama has no intention to end their lives early or require other people like the elderly to die at the behest of a government review board or official. If that idea was really part of this bill, the entire bill would have been defeated by the House Enregy and Commerce Committee last week with every member voting no.
All Sarah Palin has accomplished is her political demise. But even more importantly, she and the Republican Party have once again shown their true colors and sacrificed their credibility on the altar of fanaticism. They have again shown they are just as goofy and fanatical and out-of-touch with reality as the public has thought in the past two election cycles. They have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Republican Party is dominated and controlled by the fanatical right wing.
Remember two hundred thousand Pennsylvania Republicans reregistered as Democrats during the last election cycle and the Republicans 180,000 registration lead over the Democrats in Colorado evaporated during the same cycle. Those shifts took place because of the public’s growing sense the Republican Party is dominated by extremists. The debate over health care is reenforcing that idea.
The economy continues to show signs of improvement and when the health care bill is enacted and no one is ordered to die by a government “death panel” the Republican Party and people like Sarah Palin will have a great deal to answer for on election day in 2010. If they are honest, they will have to admit they were betting on failure and fear as the best policy to help the American people out of the worst econmic crisis since the Great Depression and into a healthy future. It won’t sell and they know it. Their vacuous attacks and non-existent policy preferences will do them great damage in 2010.
Just for fun, who remembers Orwell’s Animal Farm?
The original leader of the farm was a pig named Napolean, but leadership was taken over by a pig named squealer. It’s a story of humanity itself, and thus sheds light on the danger of a less than educated/insightful media allowing these antics to be miscast and somehow legitimized.
Along with health care reform, for the health of individuals, next should be media reform for the health of the Republic.
I don’t have the talent or time to write posts like yours, but just want to express appreciation to you – and to the original poster – for your incisive commentary.
for 8 years of holding the White House the only time Republicans expressed any concern on the issue of “Health Care” was in their attempt to inject government in to the care of Terri Schiavo.
that Bush isn’t still president. He never received a non-canned question from a single person at these townhall type events. And if you wanted to protest? You were rounded up and put in a free-speech zone, several miles away. Yay democracy!
Democrats hold open town meetings in which paid organizers are bussed in from outside the districts, while Republicans like David Vitter only allow pre-screened questions.
I’d argue that Democrats should close off their town hall meetings in the same way, but of course if they did so the same short-memory gang would scream at them for that. The standards are just different for grown-ups.
Wow, that totally demolishes the idea that Bush carefully screened all town halls.
Like it or not, Obama is different.
When freaking Helen Thomas is lighting you up about being worse than Nixon, you have no high ground on stacking a Town Hall.
Oh, now I see why you are suddenly outraged. Everyone knows Helen Thomas is the pulse of modern conservatism.
An extreme left-winger like Thomas to insult a leftie administration, something must have stuck in her craw.
THis might be the first thing she’s called correctly since she was reporting on the Harding administration.
This might be the first time Republicans have found her convenient since the Kennedy administration.
The extreme cynicism of Republicans gets exhausting sometimes. Which I suppose is the point. In postmodern politics, there’s no reason to “be right” or “support your position” or “care about stuff.” It’s just a matter of who can outlast whom in Calvinball.
Actually, I’m very idealistic, no matter how many politicians disappoint me. Which is why I’m pissed off all the time after they do.
It’s about time.
As I’m sure you do, too, LB.
It was news precisely because it was so unusual.
One or two letters in the local rag that expressed anger at the mobs.
So, indeed, maybe the tipping point is here.
Keep your eye on the ball, Polis! A ROBUST public option now!
Health-care stocks laugh all the way to the bank
All the way to bank with your skyrocketing premiums.
Stock prices fluctuate. One day is such a tiny sample size that it doesn’t really have any bearing on the political discussion IMO.
What the article you linked to described is a correlation, not a causation. And anybody who’s been through an intro psych class can tell you correlation does not equal causation.
I’m on your side in this debate, but this is a pretty weak argument.
The “he’s a Muslim” stuff didn’t work in Nov 08 and, if anything, probably sent more people into the Obama camp. The same thing is probably now happening with all the “death panels” baloney: it’s just so obviously B.S.
Palin has wounded not only herself but the whole anti-health-reform wing with her ridiculous, over-the-top “commentary” – although calling it that is actually giving it too much dignity.
I’m so glad Palin is Twittering and Facebooking – they’re perfect media to show how intellectually lightweight she really is.