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…