The videos are spreading virally online, helped in large part by Drudge, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing mediasphere.
Politicians going to the home district to meet the voters are being greeted with angry protestors, upset about proposed healthcare legislation. Obviously, they don’t represent anyone, but whatever, they’re the ones showing up and dominating the media message, so that’s the political climate the White House has to work with, as they try to keep the healthcare cream alive over the summer recess.
So what’s the plan? They’re going to do to the “townhollerers” what’s been done to the “teabaggers” and “birthers”, which is to say, they’re going to ridicule and marginalize them.
The White House and Democratic officials, surprised by the angry words thrown at Democratic lawmakers in their first weekend of August town hall meetings, are scrambling to put together a strategy to minimize the effects of what they see as an organised campaign to disrupt the meetings and spread anxiety about health care reform and President Obama.
A key part of the developing strategy: ridicule the opposition — and portray those who disrupt meetings with loud chants and signs as part of the same ilk of people who showed up at campaign rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin right after the 2008 Republican National Convention. At those rallies, some supporters hurled racist remarks and displayed objectionable signs; McCain himself was forced to respond to a questioner who called Obama a “Muslim,” to the applause of others in the crowd. To this day, McCain aides maintain that the media inflated the number of reactionairies in the crowd, abetted by an Obama campaign that was all too happy to point them out.
A party strategist e-mailed around a clip from Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s town hall meeting. At one point, a sign featuring Nazi lettering can be seen. Another strategist with ties to the White House made sure to point out that a popular sign at these rallies features Obama, in Shepherd Fairy-esque ink, as the Joker (although it’s not clear how many signs have been seen at actual rallies.) . A White House official pointed to press secretary Robert Gibbs’s comparison to the 2000 “protest” at Miami-Dade county election headquarters organised and peopled with young conservative lawyers.
Will it work? Our guess is that it will be harder this time. See, the birthers are crazy people. And the teabaggers, well, you just had to laugh at their teabag stunts. But the healthcare protestors? They just look like angry citizens showing up at a town hall, doing what you’re supposed to be doing at a town hall.
Theoretically, liberal groups could get off their collective duffs and do the same thing, but as Ambinder notes, they haven’t been so organised (it’s always easier to organise when you’re against something). Anyway, it’s going to be a fun August on this front. We suspect the big winners will be MSNBC and Fox News, which will have a field day ridiculing various protestors.
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