IT'S NOT EITHER/OR, ROBERT
I understand what Robert Borosage is trying to do in this Huffington Post item from yesterday, and I appreciate the fact that he's trying to shift our attention to where it belongs, but he's shifting it away from where it also belongs:
Glenn Beck Isn't Blocking Health Care Reform
... it is worth remembering -- Glenn Beck is not blocking the passage of a good health care bill. The old and new carny acts of the right aren't undermining the energy legislation or frustrating financial reform. To focus on who and what is standing in the way -- follow the money.
... The angry tea bag activists shouting slogans in town meetings in August provided drama, but the true opposition is writing checks, not waiving signs. They are wearing pin stripes, not jeans and t-shirts. They represent wealthy insurance company CEOs, not angry workers or small business owners.
... Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans in Congress oppose these reforms. They want, as Limbaugh proclaimed, the president to fail. But they aren't the major roadblocks to the change we need. What stands in the way is the organized power of the entrenched lobbies that have a direct stake in limiting change, and are willing to spend hundreds of millions to obstruct it. Their legions are less angry citizens, than sophisticated lobbyists, increasingly Democrats, many of them retired legislators. They deliver campaign contributions, not votes. They threaten negative campaign ads, not authentic citizen uprisings....
Um, Robert? The entrenched lobbies threaten negative campaign ads and citizen uprisings -- if not authentic ones, then certainly persuasive-looking fakes. Lobbyist money is behind tea parties and town hall protests.
The point of this seemingly spontaneous grassroots activity -- and the heavy promotion of it by what appears to be the vrtuous "free press," but is really the GOP-apparatchik media empire run by Rupert Murdoch -- is to create an impression 180 degrees removed from the truth. Yes, fat cats (and the representatives and senators they've bought and paid for) are the ones blocking true reform -- but when the most vivid image most people have of opponents is that they're Joe and Jane Citizen and Joe and Jane's heartland neighbors, it's harder to make the counterargument that this is a fat-cat effort than it would be if fat cats were merely just pulling strings behind the scenes. Beck and the teabaggers, in other words, are meant to misdirect your attention. They're there to utter fat-cat-friendly talking points and give those talking points grassroots-y credibility. They're there to make you think: This is the face of opposition to reform, not that executive in the really expensive house.
So, sure, focus on the people with the money. By all means. But please, don't absolve Beck and Limbaugh and other corporate shills of blame for all this. Strip away the cover they provide and it would be a hell of a lot easier to see the machinations of the wealthy opponents.