As members of Congress go home for the August recess and face questioning and sometimes angry crowds at local town hall meetings around the country, the White House and the Democratic leadership are busy characterizing this opposition as astroturfers:
The Republicans and their allied groups — desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill — are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right-wing extremists funded by K Street Lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions. …
These mobs are bussed in by well funded, highly organized groups run by Republican operatives and funded by the special interests who are desperately trying to stop the agenda for change the president was elected to bring to Washington. Despite the headline grabbing nature of these angry mobs and their disruptions of events, they are not reflective of where the American people are on the issues — or the hundreds of thousands of thoughtful discussions taking place around kitchen tables, water coolers and in homes.
It’s a tried and true method of political posturing: demonizing the opposition. It’s been especially popular with the Obama administration and the Pelosi-Reid Congress.
But if I were a moderate Democrat or an independent, one who had voted for Obama but was now feeling some wariness about the health care reform bill, how would I react to these sorts of statements by the Democratic National Committee? I believe the answer would be: with increasing distrust and resentment.
That’s because, although I would concede that some of the town hall agitators are probably exactly as described by the DNC, I would also very likely know quite a few persons in the real world who are just as angry about the current health care reform bill as those seen in the videos of the town hall meetings. And I would know that those people I’m acquainted with are not paid operatives. I might not even consider them especially extreme in their views. In fact, I might share some of their deep concerns about the bill as written — including the fact that it’s so long and complex and ever-changing that I’m not really sure what it contains right now, and I’m not sure my representative knows, either.
I might be angry at the idea that the member of the House or Senate who represents me is likely to have failed to even read the bill yet and may not plan to, and that Obama’s press secretary hedged when asked whether President Obama has read it or intends to do so. And I might even be angry about “the agenda for change” currently being implemented, thinking it’s not exactly what I thought “the president was elected to bring to Washington.”