Then we have the Code Pink activists who have, for the most part, held up signs, occasionally shouting out. They were routinely manhandled and hauled out of the room, sometimes charged and prosecuted. The Code Pinkers rarely manifest intense anger, even thought they intensely dislike the policies of the legislators. But they do engage in high visibility street theater.
Now, we are seeing hundreds, maybe even a thousand or two people who are asking questions. But unlike our editor or the Code Pinkers, these people are very loud, mean, nasty and are doing all they can to disrupt the conversation. And they are not removed by the police, are not arrested.
When codepink people spoke out, did the punditocracy declare that Bush or the Republicans were in trouble? No. They were, for the most part ignored, except by c-span. And they were repeatedly pulled out, even arrested and charged. That also happened when physicians advocating single-payer health care simply stood in protest in hearings chaired by Max Baucus.
The teabaggers who are showing up at townhalls are very angry, they shout disrespectfully, even contemptuously at elected legislators. They're getting a lot of attention from the news networks-- a disproportionate amount of attention.
I say disproportionate because these people are the angry minority-- the hard right wingers who hate Obama, hate the Democrats in charge. They would have, the day after the election, if they could have gotten away with it, cursed out and shouted at President-elect Obama or their elected Democratic member of Congress.
And the right wing pundits, who are being given incredible amounts of air time and print, are going bonkers over this tiny crew of protesters. Take Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald (the economy destroyer) Reagan. She suggests that this small collection of loud-mouthed oafs represents a lot of people, that they demonstrate the beginning of "a rebellion, an uprising against change they do not believe in." Remember how Bush and the Republicans handled protesters. They put them in cages a mile away from the action. Or they arrested them en-masse.
It reminds me of that Star Wars scene where Obi Wan Kenobi hypnotically glamours or charms the starship troopers-- "they're not important, let them pass." Noonan says, "...the public is agitated, the nation's in crisis, the timing is wrong, we'll turn to it gain-- but not now. We'll take a little longer to ponder every aspect, and make clear every complication." She suggests if Obama does this, his numbers will go up and Congress's numbers would. She says, "Because they'd look responsive, deliberative and even wise. Discretion is the better part of valor."
Sorry, but she is demonstrating the failure of character the right wing has manifested, or just flat out lying. The true sign of character is to do the right thing in the face of adversity, in the face of screaming critics. The right thing to do is to stand strong and represent the majority who voted for you.
Now we have this small, minuscule group of people screaming at Democratic members of Congress. They're polite to the Republicans. I met a few of these types at the recent town hall in Philly, chaired by Kathleen Sebelius and Arlen Specter. Here's a pic of a pair of women who have had their picture displayed countless times on the major networks.
I had a chance to talk to them before the event. I asked them if they believe Obama was a citizen. Both assured me he was not. Earlier, I watched them try to take reserved seats, to disrespectfully argue with a uniformed officer, lying to her that the reserved seats were for them. They were so contemptible I considered suggesting to the cop that she throw them out. At that time, I didn't know what these women stood for. I just saw two obnoxious, unpleasant, blatant liars. Later, during the townhall, they were among the loudest, most boisterous in the crowd.
I don't believe those women were there to ask questions. Why? They didn't get in the queue to ask questions, like at least 50 other people did. They were there to make noise. Of the approximately 400 people at that town hall, about 75 to 100 were anti-health reform. You could tell who they were. They were wearing or carrying bumper-stickers or signs. That's about the proportion of people who remain in the solid right wing base-- about 25%.
If they're this angry and loud this early in Obama's term, they will probably get worse.
I imagine that a good percentage of the 25% of Americans who simply hate Obama and his fellow Democrats actually love what the screaming townhall disruptors are doing-- spouting contempt and anger towards Democrats. But let's get something straight. They are a small minority. Their guys lost. They are now trying to use shouting to replace democracy. And to some extent it is working, with the help of people like Peggy Noonan, GOP leaders, Glen Beck, Matt Drudge and the rest of the right wing echo chamber. The mainstream media are giving these loudmouths far more coverage that they are giving the well-behaved counterparts on the left and center who support health care reform. Maybe that's the problem Those who support health care are not angry enough, or not expressing their anger enough.
Would you call the bellowing disruptors Unamerican? Stenny Hoyer does. In a USA TODAY editorial, he says, "These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades"