Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes in a New York Times article about the health care wars:

"We all had a good sense that some of this was going to take place," said Brad Woodhouse, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee. "To be fair, I think we were probably a little surprised -- just a little -- at the use of swastikas and the comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich that even Rush Limbaugh has fanned the flames on. And we were a little surprised at the mob mentality." (Mr. Woodhouse's use of the phrase "mob mentality" was itself part of the Democratic effort to paint opponents speaking out against the plan as part of an unruly but organized effort.)

Right -- because what's going on isn't really unruly, is it? There aren't really organized groups of people shouting members of Congress down, are there?

Look, you can argue about how grassrootsy all this is. You can argue about whether it's thuggery or just free speech. But both sides have, in effect, stipulated for the record that there are groups deliberately shutting meetings down. "Mob" is genuinely how people on our side sees those groups. So why the hell is it being portrayed as spin?


ON THE OTHER HAND: Even what would seem to be self-evident and universally acknowledged regarding the town halls is probably still in flux. Here's Georgia's GOP governor, Sonny Perdue, quoted by Politico:

Perdue suggested that media coverage of some of the town halls has been overblown, saying what he has seen at the town halls is "democracy in action."

"For some Democratic legislators to call it anti-democratic is just ludicrous," said Perdue....

"These are citizens who are very concerned," said Perdue. "They just want answers to their questions."

I'd say the shouting, braying protesters make it abundantly clear that they don't want answers to their questions. And I'd say that the most abundant evidence of that isn't "media coverage" but, rather, strategy memos and YouTube videos the protesters make and proudly post themselves, and that are linked and re-posted by their allies.

But maybe, six months or a year or ten years from now, if history is written by the victors (and I do think the right and the fat cats are going to win this one), we'll be told that this was just vigorous, Rockwellian free speech aimed at eliciting the truth, mischaracterized by Olbermann and Maddow and other evil liberals.

No comments: