Have you seen the teabaggers in action during Rep. Lloyd Doggett's (D-TX)town hall on health care? These are standard right-wing tactics -- attack any kind of meaningful change in health care, or even any kind of meaningful discourse around it. They remind me of a gathering of Joe the Plumbers.
Today, House members are back home to begin their month-long recess. The far right has indicated that they plan to welcome many of their representatives with large, angry throngs (“town halls gone wild”). The corporate lobbyists engineering these “grassroots” efforts have indicated their harassment strategy is to “yell,” “stand up and shout,” and “rattle” the members. Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being confronted by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. This past weekend, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) was the latest victim of the right’s strategy, where protesters followed him and chanted “just say no” to health care.
We've all seen it before. I wonder how many of these teabaggers actually have health insurance and are working. This should have been expected because it's all too familiar. Digby links to this piece by PBS that charts the fight for health care. A Detailed Timeline of the Healthcare Debate portrayed in "The System." It's a facinating look at the time line of events.You'll notice that Newt Gingrich raised the flag that health care was coming and republicans should do everything they could to destroy it.
Spring 1991 - Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, in a private discussion about long-term Republican political strategy, predicts that the "next great offensive of the Left," as he puts it, will be "socializing health care." Gingrich declares the need for hardline Republicans to begin positioning themselves now to keep Democrats from winning in the future.
I'm sure the Democrats all remember this and are prepared for it this time. Right?
If you haven't read the entire PBS timeline on how health care reform was derailed in 1994 recently, do yourself a favor and read it. The legislative side has an eerily familiar feel to it, especially the part where the Democrats in the Senate preen egomaniacally while selling out reform to the insurance industry and the Republicans. You'll recall that the Republicans consciously pumped Whitewater in the press to create a distraction for the public and fuel mass protest among their own base. It's a sign of their impotence that the best they could come up with this time was a fringy clown show like the birthers, but it's certainly done its job among the 58% of Republicans who now aren't sure if Obama is actually an illegal alien. This stuff is evergreen.
If you can, please attend any town hall meeting in your area and try to bring some sanity to it or expose these phony populists for what they are. If you can, interview the teabaggers and send me the video at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It will be up to the progressive groups also to organize activists to offset what Republicans hope to accomplish. The Democratic party should have expected this. That's why I asked President Obama to demand that Congress work through the August recess. You can depend on Max Baucus to do his part and screw up health care for all Americans. He sold us out before.
August will be littered with images of the Zombie Plumbers disrupting town hall meetings because the media just loves this stuff. As usual, they won't give proper context or explain who these teabaggers are, and Americans will view these wackos on the news as a legitimate effort by patriotic Americans who are against changes to the health care system instead of explaining who they really are. I hate to bring this up, but do you remember how the media handled the six weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania Democratic primary? It was pretty frightening. That's what we can expect this month, and it won't be pretty.