Lynn Sweet Likens Astroturf Organizations To Community Organizing

Lynn Sweet apparently doesn't know the difference between a community organizer and these corporate funded astroturf organizations trying to distort t
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Lynn Sweet apparently doesn't know the difference between a community organizer and these corporate funded astroturf organizations trying to distort the conversation on health care reform. I do agree with her that the White House has done a lousy job of explaining just what they want in this health care bill though. The media isn't helping matters either when you have conversations like this going on.

LEMON: CNN political editor Mark Preston, Lynn Sweet from the "Chicago Sun-Times" and PoliticsDaily.com, both join me to help sort it all out. We're glad that Lynn is back. She's been on vacation.

Good to see you, Lynn.

And you know, the president has been spared the public heckling over this health care reform, everything that we've been seeing at the town halls. But, Mark, you know, the more he holds these town hall meetings himself, which he will do another one on Wednesday, the more he opens himself up to the chances that he's going to see this and hear it personally.

PRESTON: Yes, Don. I mean, look, the protests up to this point really have been organized. We've seen these interest groups have really gotten their supporters riled up and convincing them to go to these town halls.

But you're absolutely right. President Obama, when he starts to do these town halls across the country, is going to face the same thing. He's going to face supporters, of course, who are going to be -- you know, backing him in this health care plan. But he's also going to face those angry voices, those angry faces that we've seen so far.

LEMON: And, Lynn, you know, the White House had tried to play it down, but are they changing their tune now? They had called it -- what I believe it was Astroturf or something like that.

SWEET: Oh, please, give me a break. All of a sudden orchestrating, community organizing, organizing people to come out, orchestrating is a dirty word, Don?

The Democrats are divided even among themselves. You know, there's a difference between having an unruly group of people, that's one thing, and saying that you're turning out people. That's just a ridiculous thing. I hope the White House is able just to explain the many policies and concepts within a complicated bill in simpler ways, so if they have a story to tell, it is upon them and the president to tell it, too.

But on the other hand, I don't think the Democrats are that unhappy because this helps them organize. And it helps them -- helps them show the House members, who, they are afraid, will get nervous and shaky and lose their nerve. They're going to try and bring in their troops during this August recess to show that they can bolster them and keep them.

Look, I just got an e-mail even from Eleanor Holmes -- to go to the office of Eleanor Holmes Norton in the district, and she doesn't even have a vote.

LEMON: Oh, wow. OK.

SWEET: So -- it was an e-mail from Organizing for America.

LEMON: But, Mark -- I want to ask Mark this, Lynn. You know, the concern from many people who attend those town halls and they're not among the rowdy people is that, that real constructive debate is being drowned out by all of the dramatics.

PRESTON: Yes. You know, Don, and just right before we came on air, I was forwarded an e-mail that showed this e-mail chain of supporters and opponents in Maryland who are trying to strategize and game out how they're going to act at a health care forum tomorrow night in Towson.

So there's going to -- you know, there surely, clearly is a sharp divide. And when you have folks not being able to, you know, clearly ask questions and to get straight responses and you have people shouting and yelling, it's not constructive. And when you see really the rhetoric jacked up and images of Nazism and members being hung in effigy, that's not necessarily constructive to this debate.

LEMON: Yes. And you know what, Lynn, I should have followed when you talked about this, because this is the perfect follow-up question to your point where you talked about the administration getting its message out. But how much of this is the administration's own fault when, you know, even news organizations are trying to dig into what's exactly in this reform bill or bills. It's tough to get the information because no one knows exactly what's proposed.

SWEET: Well, there's still drafts of legislation if you wanted to, you know, devote the whole of your show on it. One could. But there is...

LEMON: But its proposed -- there are so many things proposed in it. There are no specifics is what I'm saying.

SWEET: Well, but actually there are some broad brushes, and that's what people are reacting to. And I know I have to be quick here. The point is there is two story lines developing, and that is just the story about the story over protests and the nuts and bolts are in the bill and the -- both sides are organizing people to come to and pack the houses in these town halls.

And now, of course, there shouldn't be yelling, and, of course, the Nazi imagery is despicable and should not be used, because whatever is happening now is just people demonstrating free speech and is nowhere close to that. But part of this is just -- as I say, it is interesting to have the Obama people, of all people, complaining that something is orchestrated when they do that themselves. You know, the Democrats have all their allies helping to orchestrate their campaign to get their legislation advanced.

So -- yes, so both sides have their organizations working to turn out people to these town halls.

LEMON: Lynn, Mark, you guys are the best. Thank you very much. Always good to see you.

SWEET: Thank you.

PRESTON: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

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