If an "astroturfing" campaign gets real people to show up at events stating their real views, isn't it ... community organizing? ...Jonah Goldberg scoffs at Nancy Pelosi's accusation that those showing up at townhalls are being sent there as part of an astroturf campaign by the health insurance industry and they're showing up with swastikas.
Now this is a pas de trois of dishonesty, slander, and idiocy. Not only is Pelosi lying when she says protesters are bringing swastikas to these town halls, not only is she suggesting that American citizens are Nazis for having the effrontery to get in the way of Obamacare, but she’s also saying that the alleged swastikas are obvious proof that these protests are manufactured by slick P.R. gurus.But that is the type of idiotic thinking underlying the Democrats' faux outrage over people expressing their anger at Obamacare.
How does that work? What public-relations genius says: “Okay, we need these protests to seem like an authentic backlash of real Americans. Make sure everyone has enough Nazi paraphernalia!”
It’s difficult for mere mortals like us to fully grasp the enormousness of the Democrats’ hypocrisy. Put aside all that talk of dissent being the highest form of patriotism. Overlook that Democrats would have upended jerry cans of gasoline and immolated themselves in protest if the Bush administration had asked people to inform on their neighbors. You can even forget that the DNC’s claims are untrue.UPDATE: Peggy Noonan pours her thoughts over the rising tension between those going to the townhalls and the shellshocked Democrats who are unready to answer their constituents' angry protests.
But how can we ignore the fact that the world’s most famous community organizer is whining about community organizing?
But wait: It gets better. As of this writing, the entire BarackObama.com site was dedicated to “Organizing for America,” with a special page dedicated to “Organizing for Health Care,” where supporters are asked to flood town halls and “make certain your members of Congress know that you’re counting on them to act.”
They only thing they left out is the instruction to leave the Brooks Brothers jackets and swastikas at home.
What has been most unsettling is not the congressmen’s surprise but a hard new tone that emerged this week. The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town hall meetings weren’t authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss—loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don’t.She recommends that the Democrats back off and wait until later to push for their vision of health care. Well, that won't happen, because for them, it's all about Obama. And he wants it. And they realize that the problems passing their sort of bill will only rise once it gets caught up in reelection campaigns next year. And there is always the chance that the Democrats could lose their filibuster-proof control of the Senate. That's why they have the need for speed. But after they pushed through the unimpressive stimulus, the rest of the budget, and cap and trade in the House, people just aren't going to roll over for them to mess around with health care.
People are not automatons. They show up only if they care.
What the town-hall meetings represent is a feeling of rebellion, an uprising against change they do not believe in. And the Democratic response has been stunningly crude and aggressive. It has been to attack. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, accused the people at the meetings of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that.” (Apparently one protester held a hand-lettered sign with a “no” slash over a swastika.) But they are not Nazis, they’re Americans. Some of them looked like they’d actually spent some time fighting Nazis.
Then came the Democratic Party charge that the people at the meetings were suspiciously well-dressed, in jackets and ties from Brooks Brothers. They must be Republican rent-a-mobs. Sen. Barbara Boxer said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that people are “storming these town hall meetings,” that they were “well dressed”, that “this is all organized,” “all planned,” to “hurt our president.” Here she was projecting. For normal people, it’s not all about Barack Obama.
And Rich Lowry weighs in (and he even borrows my line).
Like Richard Nixon, Barack Obama wants to govern on the strength of a silent majority, although with a twist. Obama wants the majority that opposes or questions his policies to stay silent.Attacking angry constituents coming out to town halls is a miserable strategy. Hiding from your constituents will not play well in a reelection bid. Better to engage and explain why Obamacare is better than the status quo and why the fears of the protesters are exaggerated. But they can't seem to do that, can they? And the majority is not remaining silent.
Obama’s White House and its allies have unleashed a barrage of criticism and condescension at people daring to show up at town-hall meetings and ask their elected representatives pointed questions. “Fired up and ready to go!” apparently works only one way. If engaged citizens shower Obama with adoration at stage-managed rallies, they are the very stuff of American democracy. If they boo their congressman, they are a scandalous eruption of fake or hateful sentiment.
The Democratic National Committee has called the hostile questioners and protesters at town halls a “mob.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that they represent “manufactured anger” ginned up by nefarious corporate interests, and referred to them as “the Brooks Brothers brigade.” California Sen. Barbara Boxer, too, took offense at the untoward lack of shabby dress, noting with disapproval that the protesters are “well-dressed.” It’s the attack of the haut polloi.
All of these Obama mouthpieces must forget that the president once was a community organizer. As a young man in Chicago, he got people to meetings and primed them with questions to ask city officials. By the Gibbs standard, when Obama prodded his community activists to get the Chicago Housing Authority to remove asbestos from a public-housing complex in the 1980s, it was contemptible “manufactured” outrage.
Conservative groups are publicizing the times and locations of town-hall meetings on the Internet. They are calling and e-mailing people on their membership lists and urging them to make their voices heard. No one prior to the troubled career of Obamacare thought town-hall meetings should be closely held secrets, or considered basic block-and-tackle political organizing as out of bounds.
Obama once extolled such organizing as one of the marvels of American democracy. The same DNC operative who attacked the “angry mobs of a small number of rabid right-wing extremists” ran a union-funded group in 2005 opposing Pres. George W. Bush’s Social Security reform. It organized protests and town-hall meetings, and ran TV ads. But never mind — it’s activism for me, not for thee.