Hand lettered signs vs. printed stickers. Which is grass roots?
The new Democrat strategy for town meetings was on display in Troy, Michigan Tuesday night, as Democrat freshman representative Gary Peters did his best to squelch all spontaneity from the event—with organized pro-government health care types getting preferred treatment, and questions from the audience screened and prepared for.
Union members and other Democrat operatives with professionally printed signs lined up at 3:30 for the 7:00 event, while protesters came much later, most likely taking care of real lives, like jobs and families, first. Naturally, those who came first, got into the event first. However, after the doors were closed, as has been reported at other Democrat-sponsored events, a significant number of the "pro" side were let in the side door after the main doors were closed.
Protesters gather outside the Peters town hall
Despite these efforts, the pros were definitely outnumbered, and the Peters camp made unusual efforts to control the event. People, who unlike me, were able to get into the event reported that unlike Republican events in the Metro Detroit area over the past few weeks, the questions were pre-screened, rather than open mic following the formal presentation. Furthermore, in order to submit a question, one had to give a name, address, phone number and email address. While Peters insisted the questions were randomly picked, staffers were in plain sight sorting questions into piles, and tor most of the times a question came from the conservative side, a prepared slide refuting the premise of the question was flashed on the screen Peters had used for his presentation. There was darned well going to be none of this allowed:
But this should surprise no one . At the same time Nancy Pelosi was mocking protesters as "astrotuf" (ie fake grass roots) liberal organizations were frantically preparing a counter-demonstration strategy.
A week before this event in my backyard, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron concisely laid out the national strategy on Special Report with Bret Baier:
CAMERON: The trend in polls clearly shows opposition to health care reform overtaking support in recent weeks as loud town hall meetings have drawn attention to concerns with the government-run health insurance program…
Hoping to mute that kind of opposition, Democrats are launching a counteroffensive beginning with a nationwide 11-city bus tour, including a thousand rallies, speeches and news conferences. The bus tour anchors the blitz with events in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, St. Louis, Des Moines,Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio, Raleigh and Charlotte, New Carolina and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
With the less than roll off the tongue title, "Health Insurance Reform Now, Let's Get It Done," amounts to an organized and orchestrated collaboration among the Democratic National Committee, pro-reform left leaning labor unions, including the SEIU and AFSCME, a Washington-based network of community groups known as Health Care for America Now, or HCAN, and the 2008 Obama grassroots network now run out of the DNC known as Organizing for America, or OFA.
When heated health care opposition at town halls captured the nation's attention earlier this month, Democrats denounced it as a fraud, not true citizen outrage, they said. Not the grassroots but artificial, allegedly manufactured by special interests. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think they are Astroturf. You be the judge.
CAMERON: In fact, health care reform opposition was organized but mostly at the local level, not principally by opponents based in Washington. That, however, is exactly what the DNC is now doing with Organizing for America, which has staffers in 45 states and an e-mail list of 13 million from last year's presidential campaign.
And one affiliated group in Minnesota called Community for Change is actually targeting GOP town halls and planning to disrupt them with a direct association to the president. In their e-mail, they write, "It is our intention to overwhelm each session with reform supporters. There may be an opportunity for people to go online and print their own 8 1/2 by 11 sheet for display in the session from BarackObama.com." Meaning, use the president's signs when you undertake the outbursts that until a few days ago we were denouncing on the other side .
The Community Organizer-in-Chief has sent out his own personal appeal.
There is one sliver lining besides the awakening of this decade's Silent Majority at long last. We are unlikely to hear the ubiquitous liberal canard of the last few years, "Thomas Jefferson said 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.'"
First, because liberals are no longer big on dissent now that they are in charge; (Pelosi and sidekick Stenny Hoyer famously declared health care dissent "un-American") but mostly because conservatives are not apt to misattribute quotes from Marxist historian Howard Zinn, to Thomas Jefferson.
And let's never forget this spontaneous outpouring of democratic enthusiasm for health care reform…