The White House suggestion that some of the anger seen at town hall meetings is "manufactured" apparently wasn't seen as strong enough, so the Democratic National Committee in a new web video is depicting the protestors as irrational birthers who want to "destroy" President Obama.
The web video says "the right wing extremist Republican base is back" and shows the woman from the June 2009 town hall meeting in Sussex County, Delaware, yelling at Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., that President Obama is "not an American citizen."
The ad says "desperate Republicans and their well funded allies are organizing angry mobs -- just like they did during the election. Their goal? Destroy President Obama."
DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse issued a statement about "the Republican Party and Allied Groups’ Mob Rule," saying that 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 about the future of health care in America taking place in Congressional Districts across the country."
Woodhouse said: "The right wing extremists’ use of things like devil horns on pictures of our elected officials, hanging members of Congress in effigy, breathlessly questioning the president's citizenship and the use of Nazi SS symbols and the like just shows how outside of the mainstream the Republican Party and their allies are. This type of anger and discord did not serve Republicans well in 2008 -- and it is bound to backfire again."
While offensive and even racist posters and protestors have shown up at too many of these town halls, it's not clear that they represent the mainstream of those who have organized to exercise their First Amendment right to speak any more so than the liberal protestors who compared President Bush to a Nazi represented mainstream liberal thought, or even the mainstream of anti-war protestors at any given event.
But this has become a battle of control for the narrative.
Conservatives want to depict these protests as representative of an angry nation rejecting President Obama's health care reform push. Though, as Ruy Teixeira at the liberal Center for American Progress pointed out, according to the Pew Research Center, the American people seem to support many of the president's goals: by 79-15, the public supports “Requiring insurance companies to sell health coverage to people, even if they have pre-existing medical conditions”; by 65-29, they support “Requiring that all Americans have health insurance, with the government providing financial help for those who can’t afford it”; by 63-32, they support “Raising taxes on families with incomes of more than $350,000 and individuals earning more than $280,000”; by 61-33, they support “Requiring employers to pay into a government health care fund if they do not provide health insurance to their employees”; and by 52-37, they support “A government health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans.”
For their part, Democrats want to discredit all the protests by painting them as irrational angry fringe mobs.
To wit: Woodhouse said that "much like we saw at the McCain-Palin rallies last year where crowds were baited with cries of 'socialist,' 'communist,' and where the birthers movement was born -- these mobs of extremists are not interested in having a thoughtful discussion about the issues -- but like some Republican leaders have said -- they are interested in ‘breaking’ the president and destroying his presidency."
Woodhouse continued: "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."
While some of the critics at town hall meetings are clearly organized by conservative groups such as FreedomWorks, which is run by former House Majority Leader, now corporate lobbyist, Dick Armey, officials from these groups say the anger and emotion the voters convey is real. And some of the town hall protestors are clearly organized at the grass roots level by some of the conservatives active earlier this year in the "tea party" movement.