Top-Level Democrats Assault The Extremist Astroturfers
The White House took the lead on this, publicly calling the teabagger disruptions an example of astroturfing and citing conservative industry-backed groups taking credit for activating the rioters. Now other elements of the Democratic Party are taking up the baton. Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer blasted the clown show today:
Speaking outside the White House after meeting with President Obama, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York both dismissed the significance of boisterous protesters who have been interrupting Democratic lawmakers' events.
"It is a small fringe group," Schumer told the Huffington Post, "and if we let a small group of people who want to monopolize the conversation and not listen to the facts win, you may as well hang it up."
"These town hall meetings have been orchestrated by the tea baggers and the birthers to just be a free-for-alls, make a lot of noise, go on YouTube and show discord," said Durbin. "I mean that is what they are determined to do. But that is not going to accomplish what we need to accomplish: real health care reform."
Likewise, the DNC called the protesters "right-wing extremists funded by K Street" and alluded to the Palin/McCain rallies with the ugly cries of racism and xenophobia. The House Speaker's blog has a pretty comprehensive list of the extremism of the rioters, the links to special interests, and the coordinated strategy to shut down debate. And I've seen every single Democrat on cable news today talking about the Brooks Brothers riot, astroturfing, lobbyist-funded front groups, and the like. It's pretty interesting.
Will this push either the extremism or the astroturf element of this into the conversation, given the obvious evidence of lobby groups strategizing on this? I'm not sure. The media has a depressing tendency to treat a mob like a poll sample of public attitudes. In fact, public support for health care is still very strong. But the various ambushes throughout the country will still get national and (perhaps more important) local ink.
I'm glad that Democrats are fighting back, but I'm compelled to note that their charges also have to get into the game themselves. The ads have largely been garbage, the organizing hasn't gotten the traction from the media, and they have been unable to drown out the shouters. There is a gap here.