As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Guerrilla Meeting Strategy And Counter-Strategy

Some smart people in Washington had better come up with a way to counteract these lobbyist-organized mobs. Lloyd Doggett did decent enough job on Hardball today.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said his health care town hall this weekend was a "mob scene" filled with people from outside the neighborhood who were brought in by the Republican and Libertarian parties.

Their purpose was not "just to get their own voice heard, but to ensure other people weren't heard," he told Chris Matthews on Hardball. "I think these folks are really desperate to stop health reform." [...]

Doggett also compared the protesters to birthers and secessionists.

"It's the same fanaticism I saw on Saturday," he said. He claimed most of the protesters weren't from the neighborhood, but were brought in by the Republican and Libertarian parties.

The protest was one of several at town halls across the country this weekend and over the past few weeks.

One protester carried a sign with a picture of a marble tombstone engraved with Doggett's name, he said.

Later on in the same show, Matthews marveled at the passion and intensity of the protestors, without mentioning what Doggett told him a half-hour earlier, that rioters were bused in from out of town, and without mentioning the organized lobbying effort to build fake grassroots movements to disrupt meetings by whatever means possible. Likewise, other media weathervanes are claiming that such town hall vigilantism is a Democratic idea (!), although I appreciate Ambinder's admission that "the press will be complicit in telling the story" because the riots make for better visuals.

Congressman Patrick Murphy appeared to handle his town meetings pretty well, and really it isn't about the spectacle, the theater, but how Democrats use them as cover to return to the beliefs they already hold. Any politician who tells you they "listen to their constituents" and then talk about a town hall meeting with 100 or 200 people is engaging in terrible polling, and really selecting to get a preferred result.

Maybe members of Congress have to be aware of what's happening in the room, as we used to say in comedy, and flat-out state that an organized group in the meeting seeks to disrupt the proceedings. Republican supporters on the stump last fall didn't do themselves any favors, revealing an ugly underbelly of extremism and violence. I would highlight it. Make it personal.

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