Aug 7, 2009

script-flipping, continued

If you needed more evidence that the Town Hall Shout-Ins of '09 are an example of Left and Right flipping the script, try Byron York's (classic?) article on Cindy Sheehan, notable for its unabashed mockery of the antiwar activist and her supporters. Of course, the title of his book on l'affair Bushitler is equally insightful:
The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President — and Why They'll Try Even Harder Next Time.
Right intuition; wrong team.

Oh, and... The Brian Baird saga gets weirder.


M.T. McLaughlin said...

It's not really a good strategy either way, but this time around it's manufactured rather than an actual grassroots movement.

Have you seen the violence? I guess these people are adding a conservative touch to the liberal tactic they borrowed.

I apologize for my crass partisanship.

Jim Anderson said...

Or maybe you're a Rovian plant, out to make liberals look bad by smearing conservatives.

The mind reels.

Matthew Anderson said...

I have yet to see videos of 'violence.' I'd appreciate being pointed to reports (though I'm generally informed, I can't read/watch everything!).

With all due respect, M.T., the anger isn't manufactured. It's very real. It's not often that you can get a thousand conservatives out on a workday to rally about anything, but that's precisely what happened earlier this year in St. Louis at one of the original tea parties--and these health care protests are simply an extension of those. It's all the more interesting in that the Left has a long history of protesting, while it's been largely absent as a form of political action on the Right. To deny the grassroots nature of this is either ignorance or part of a political strategy to attempt to downplay the significance of the movement by attributing it not to real political energy but to professional organization.

But the strategy of calling it 'manufactured' is shortsighted, as if it's real, then it sets Democrats up for a more painful 2010/12 than they would otherwise expect. If it's real, then Democrats had better figure out how to counteract it, because it won't go away otherwise.

Jim Anderson said...

Anger in any form is often misinformed, and readily manipulated, even if it comes from a real place. That's what I've seen on both sides over the last decade.

Jim Anderson said...

Two examples of violence at the link, via the most reputable news source I could find. (I'm surprised you didn't hear about the incident in Mehlville, bro.)

Matthew Anderson said...


That the anger is being manipulated wasn't M.T.'s claim. His was that it is being manufactured, which is wrong.

Additionally, it's hard for me to believe that it's 'misinformed' and 'being manipulated.' I know, for instance, the people who have been putting on the Saint Louis teaparties and were at the event in Mehlville. They are about as informed on the issues as they come, and aren't really prone to manipulating people. What would the latter look like, anyway?

That said, when I questioned the violence, I meant to question it whether it has been perpetuated by conservatives. The Mehlville event saw a TEA PARTY member end up in the hospital after (it seems) some union folks beat him up. The results (including that summary you linked to, Jim) so far seem to be lots of shouting, one broken videocamera lens, and one conservative in the hospital. That's hardly violence that is being perpetuated by a movement.

For another perspective on the angry mob, I thought this post was pretty funny:

Those are pictures from the Carnahan event in Mehlville. Those people are fierce!

Jim Anderson said...

1. So I'm not M.T., nor do I share his views that this recent spate of outrage is "manufactured," or that the violence is an exclusively conservative tactic. I'm glad we've established that. He can defend his own "crass partisanship" if he wishes. (It should be noted that the Mehlville assault isn't the only example of violence, but at some point I tire of linking.)

2. The Daily Show's "Crank Cycle" shows the noise machine's amplification in action.

3. Thanks to technology--now one dude's "Rocking The Town Halls -- Best Practices" memo gets national coverage, even if he may not have intended it to--the message and the tactics spread quickly. Furthermore, as is typical with any protest movement, the average joes start to get drowned out by the shouters.

4. Which isn't to say that all people who are angry are manipulated or misinformed (and if you notice, I didn't make that claim). But there are some. (And the overall silliness on both sides of the aisle is laughable.)

5. Sometimes I wonder if the Karl Rove years never even happened.

Matthew said...

1. I realize you're not M.T., but your comment about anger seemed to be in response to my remarks (else why post it at all?).

2. Jon Stewart cracks me up. Isn't it 'the other noise machine' that's trying to perpetuate the 'violent rioters' myth?

3. Yes, shouters always show up. But I love the fact that both Stewart and you seem to presume that conservatives are too dumb to think of the same basic strategies for appropriate civic engagement independently. Always an evil mastermind somewhere...

4. We agree on the silliness. But having been to tea parties and having talked with members of the crowd, I think I am a bit more optimistic than you.

5. It will soon become obvious that he is actually controlling the Obama WhiteHouse and has manipulated them into consistently overreaching, creating all kinds of energy among the opposition.

One more: it's sad that the politics of this issue are clouding actual public deliberation about, oh, the ideas (pesky things, those). I long for a purer political era, even one that is probably a figment of my imagination.

Jim Anderson said...

Sadly, it is a figment. Democracy gives as many Theodore Bilboes as Teddy Roosevelts. For every King, a Kingfish. That's what makes it... fun?