The First Murmurs of Political Ugliness

John Loughlin, the presumed Republican candidate for Patrick Kennedy’s seat in Congress, has issued a press release stating that “the Congressman has a basic obligation to share his in-depth knowledge” about healthcare legislation at three to five town-hall-style meetings. As a matter of an elected representative’s responsibility, Loughlin is absolutely correct, but constituents might have cause to worry that the ordeal of such meetings might send Patrick back into preventive rehab. The “debate” is getting ugly.
After a few instances of citizens’ displaying their passion about the Democrats’ federal powergrab in a porcine “healthcare reform” costume, party figures have been striving to prove that nobody does divisiveness as well as they do:

Democrats and the White House are claiming that the sometimes rowdy protests that have disrupted Democratic lawmakers’ meetings and health care events around the country are largely orchestrated from afar by insurers, lobbyists, Republican Party activists and others.

Jonah Goldberg goes into further detail about the Democrats’ attacks on American citizens. Peggy Noonan took up the topic for the must-read piece to which Marc linked earlier. Noonan highlights the looks of shock that have been characteristic of the Democrats who’ve been experiencing Americans’ frustration. “They had no idea how people were feeling,” she writes, and she ends on a note of concern that their leaders and allies see more need for forehead-to-forehead response than for the much-invoked empathy:

Absent [President Obama calling for a pause in the debate], and let’s assume that won’t happen, the health-care protesters have to make sure they don’t get too hot, or get out of hand. They haven’t so far, they’ve been burly and full of debate, with plenty of booing. This is democracy’s great barbaric yawp. But every day the meetings seem just a little angrier, and people who are afraid—who have been made afraid, and left to be afraid—can get swept up. As this column is written, there comes word that John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO has announced he’ll be sending in union members to the meetings to counter health care’s critics.

If, like me, you’ve come across news of a beating that apparent members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) delivered to a grassroots activist in Missouri, and watched the video of the aftermath, Noonan’s final chord is chilling.
To be sure, meeting constituent unrest with union thuggery is probably not what White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina meant when he told Senate Democrats, “If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,” but the imagery is telling. And dangerous. Citizen ire is going to turn into bloodsport politics, in part because ostensible leaders prefer to battle than to listen.

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14 years ago

I was at the RI State House when former
Republican Rep Victor Moffitt held an anti-gay HATE RALLY,it was an ugly event.
At that event conservative speakers blamed gays, for both the Station Night Club fire and the 3000 deaths on 9/11
What say you Anchor Rising ?

Robert Balliot
14 years ago

According to Aug. 6 NYT one of the groups against health care reform is organized by none other than –
Rick Scott the former head of Columbia/HCA, a for-profit hospital chain. Mr. Scott was forced out of that job amid a fraud investigation; the company eventually pleaded guilty to charges of overbilling state and federal health plans, paying $1.7 billion — yes, that’s “billion” — in fines. You can’t make this stuff up.”
It looks like fraud might account for a big chunk of the rise in government health care costs being used as an argument against expansion of benefits.
Isn’t it ironic where that argument comes from?

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

Look for more SEIU incidents involving SEIU shock troops, and a subsequent use of the propaganda technique known as “turnspeak” to try to blame the citizens and Tea Party members.
Such as this afternoon’s SEIU statement:
SEIU boss denounces ‘terrorist tactics’ of the Right, day after alleged SEIU assault on conservative
Even many in the labor movement have come to recognize that SEIU is a dictatorial union that tramples on members’ rights (as has been done in the last year with healthcare workers in California), and subscribes to “whatever it takes” actions to achieve its ends, thug tactics being just one of them.
SEIU is tied in with ACORN. We’re talking really bad people here.
In 2008 the brought in 6 busloads of agitators to disrupt a multi-union labor conference because SEIU was having a turf war (battle over new members and their dues stream) with a competing nurses union.
“There is no justification—none—for the violent attack orchestrated by SEIU at the Labor Notes conference,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney April 15.”

14 years ago

The RI angle, of course, is whether Paulie M has been providing consulting services to the SEIU with respect to its aggressive persuasion tactics (though not the racism that accompanied them). It will be interesting to see how RI law enforcement, and in particular, the RISP, react when and if these tactics are tried in the Ocean State…

14 years ago

I think you’re grasping more than a bit. What do the actions of a former state representative, who has been an on and off Republican throughout the years, regarding a subject that wasn’t even brought up in this post, have to do with anything, anywhere, at anytime?
By the way, even if you disagree with someone’s stand on a particular political issue, try to assume that your opponents are not motivated by “hate,” but rather over a legitimate disagreement concerning a public policy issue. If I remember correctly, Vic introduced the state version of the DOMA legislation that President Clinton once signed. Don’t recall if it passed or not — I presume it didn’t — because it was a while back, and he was a member of the minority party. Calling people names is just a means of trying to shut down discussion, not engaging them in meaningful dialogue.
By the way, anyone who actually knows Vic Moffitt, knows your attempted characterization is laughable.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Two points, Robert:
1. One would expect that any true dispersed grassroots movement would have participants here and there of dubious background and motivation.
2. Note this from the Krugman article that you cite: “charges of overbilling state and federal health plans.” Because it is dealing with other people’s money, the government is inherently vulnerable to that sort of thing. Moreover, a universal, single-payer system unifies the healthcare pool, inviting corruption and fraud.

Robert Balliot
14 years ago

Justin –
You just validated corruption as acceptable because it is part of your ‘side’.
As a political equation that leaves no remainder. Justin/Crowley = 1

Justin Katz
14 years ago

I did no such thing. I stated that any large, dispersed group — without a core organization — will probably incorporate people here and there whom the others would disdain. Finding those people and holding them up as the faces of the movement (as Krugman and, in turn, you have done) is a pitiful attempt to discredit many via their tenuous association with a few.
It would take a small mind, indeed, to believe the accuracy of the equation that you suggest.

Robert Balliot
14 years ago

I would have summarized as Justin=Crowley,
but your writing styles are substantially different.
The themes are the same, though –
You/he are better than people labeled as liberal/conservative.
You/he are better than people labeled as Republican/Democrat.
You/he are against the corruption that represents his/your preferred label.
You/he ignore the corruption the represents your/his preferred label.

14 years ago

Well said Mr Balliot
Thou Katz and Crowley idiologies may
be different their MOes are the same
They are both political hacks,who see
no good in the those on the other side.
And have no tolerance for those in the middle. Even thou most people in RI are in the middle.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Well, Ron & Rob, there’s not much I can say to that, except to opine that you strike me as not very observant and desirous of a binary reality, even when it doesn’t fit.
Of course, you’ll see that as further evidence of my unshakable dogmatism, but inasmuch as I refused to be bullied by subscribers to your brand of vanity, there’s no remedy.

14 years ago

Ron, you have to remember here that it’s the hard right way or the highway. Compromise is considered a sign of weakness.
And let’s remember, the recent wave of town hall meeting attacks started with a hard-right attack at a meeting hosted by a GOP congressman: Delaware’s Mike Castle.
These people won’t rest until we have a Lord of the Flies society.

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