Friday, April 29, 2011


I generally like Kevin Drum, but in this post he seems to be auditioning for a mainstream-press gig as a Richard Cohen-esque, snide, above-it-all, pox-on-both-your-houses (but-especially-you-libs-and-Dems) op-ed writer. He's responding to some rather shameless GOP ref-working in a Bloomberg news story: "Republicans Dismiss Public Attacks on Ryan Medicare Revamp as Orchestrated."

Drum, after quote a complaint by a GOP congressman, Lou Barletta, writes::

You know what? Barletta is mostly right. But that's not really the problem. After all, a lot of the tea party town hall protests in 2009 were pretty much orchestrated too. Here's the problem: liberals are lousy at pretending that their protests are organic. Ever since the Ryan plan has come out, I've been reading endless tweets and blog posts about how liberals need to create a ruckus at congressional town halls. Or, alternatively, complaining that liberals aren't doing a good enough job of creating a ruckus at congressional town halls. Or wondering when liberals are going to rise up in wrath. Or something.

As a result, even I haven't really taken any of these various ruckuses very seriously. They're just too obviously contrived to be our equivalent of the tea party protests. And my guess is that the press is yawning for the same reason. You can't make protest plans in public for a couple of weeks and then turn around and try to convince reporters that this is all a grass roots effort....

What the hell is he talking about? Republicans are better at pretending that their protests aren't "contrived"? Because they don't openly send tweets? Really?

At the beginning of the long, hot August of 2009 it became blatantly obvious that groups such as Freedomworks were disseminating town hall harassment strategies ("Rocking the Town Halls -- Best Practices") -- and yet this, and large amounts of additional evidence of substantial fat cat support, didn't cause the press to "yawn," or shrug off the protests as manufactured; the media covered the disruptions eagerly, and has continued to insist to this day that the tea party movement is "grassroots." But that's no surprise, given the fact that the press hadn't stopped calling the protests "grassroots" even after Fox News Channel literally branded the April 2009 tax day teabag protests:

Of course, the entire argument is a crock. In less fevered times, we still wouldn't be talking about Norman Rockwell-esque, New England-style town meetings in which the entire populace gathers -- congressional town halls, by definition, would be gatherings of people with a greater-than-average interest in what government is up to. And, golly, they might even decide to attend the town hall and give the congressperson a piece of their mind after reading about the gathering in the local weekly paper -- weeks in advance! That's almost like a tweet!

This is a ridiculous argument. The difference isn't whether these things are planned or not (as far as I can tell, the only unplanned political act with a comparable effect is a riot). The difference is whether the protesters were summoned by massive, deep-pocketed organizations or sincere, underfunded individuals and groups. And this year the latter is the case.

No comments: