The press is starting to take notice. Politico did a story on it this morning. The New York Times also did full coverage of the rowdy townhall meetings. You'll also see full coverage on Fox News. A narrative is emerging from the left. Bill Press was on Fox News this morning proclaiming that all these protestors are sent in by shadowy groups to disrupt the proceedings. That appears to be what the left will attempt to do. They will try and define these folks as "astro turf". That means these protestors were organized by well organized and funded groups that sent them in with a specific mission. In other words, what you are watching is actually not a spontaneous event but a well orchestrated and staged event. Furthermore, these protestors will be characterized as out of control folks that want to shout down and debate. That's exactly how Press characterized them, and here's how Rep. Doggett characterized his confrontation with a similar set of protestors.
In Austin, Texas, Rep. Lloyd Doggett was drowned out by a group of noisy, sign waving demonstrators who shouted, “Just say no” as he tried to talk about health care reform. In an e-mail to POLITICO Monday, Doggett called the group a “mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties” that “came not just to be heard but to deny others the right to be heard.”
The New York Times article was more subtle in their characterization.
The effort to flood events held by Democratic lawmakers appears to be part of a concerted strategy that began earlier in the spring at the behest of conservative, libertarian and antitax groups.
One group, called Right Principles, which sent protesters to an event in May held by Representative Jim Himes, a freshman Democrat from Connecticut, has distributed a memorandum laying out strategies to “pack the hall” and pummel lawmakers with questions.
In Virginia, Bill Wilson, the president of Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group, issued a clarion call on Monday for protests against Representative Tom Periello, another freshman Democrat. Mr. Wilson urged residents of Mr. Periello’s district to “hold rallies, demonstrations, tea parties and protests in opposition to Barack Obama’s insidious efforts to take over the health system.”
This is much the same strategy that Democrats and liberals used to try and define the tea parties themselves. As I said yesterday, I believe that these protests are all natural extensions of the tea party movements. Those protests were also characterized by some astro turfers that simply hated the president. That largely didn't work. Most polling found support for the tea parties and the movement.
Interaction with our elected leaders is a vital part of a vibrant Democracy. It's terribly dangerous to try and characterize those that exercise that right as having some sort of devious intentions. It's even more dangerous when the opinions they state are confirmed by most major polling. It would be one thing if we saw a lot of protestors at townhalls but every other sign pointed to overwhelming support for the health care plan. That's not what's happening here. No one doubts that the public at large doesn't like the president's plan. That's what these protestors are vocalizing. If opponents want to characterize citizens that volunteer to engage in the political process as having devious intentions they do it at their own peril.