One of these things is not like the other

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12 Responses

  1. E.D. Kain says:

    The only thing that compares, I’d say, are the really big anarchist WTO rallies. Those can be pretty ugly. And obviously at other points in history maybe this was different. But yes, these protests have been particularly ugly, and part of that I think is that they just feel so uninformed and so upset over something that we should be working together to figure out – I mean health care people. Come on.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Do the ANSWER protests not count? I remember arguing with folks over whether ANSWER was in charge of them meant anything (and discussions about the 2nd Infatada and Mumia) and had some (though not all) point out to me that ANSWER was not representative of the opposition to Bush’s policies, it’s just that they’re the only game in town when it came to protesting war.

    Now, of course, you may be talking about only opposition to Bush’s domestic policies… but when I think of rancor related to liberal/leftist protests during the Bush administration, I think of the anti-Afghanistan War protests (quickly followed by the anti-Iraq War protests).Report

    • Jon H in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Do the ANSWER protests not count? ”

      Did they happen in scheduled indoor forums for discussion, thus preventing discussion, or were they in a public space on their own time? There’s a very big difference. In the latter, ANSWER would be wasting their own time. In the former, they’re wasting the time of everyone who is at the event to have a meaningful discussion.Report

  3. I don’t know. I get the point, and there’s no doubt that there is a fairly big difference in degree here, but this USA Today article from 2005 suggests that things did fairly regularly go beyond merely protesting outside and asking pointed questions:

    Money quote:
    “Santorum was among dozens of members of Congress who ran gantlets of demonstrators and shouted over hecklers at Social Security events last month. Many who showed up to protest were alerted by e-mails and bused in by anti-Bush organizations such as and USAction, a liberal advocacy group. They came with prepared questions and instructions on how to confront lawmakers.

    MoveOn, which campaigned against Bush’s re-election and is now focused on defeating his Social Security proposals, has issued a guide for activists. It includes such tips as: “Ask pointed questions that put the representative or senator on record on important issues like benefit cuts, raising the retirement age and new debt necessary to pay for privatization.” It also includes a section on “How to talk to a conservative about Social Security (if you must).” The group says it sent activists to 28 meetings.”

    Emphasis mine. Look, I’m not at all supporting what people are doing at these events. But this seems to me to be more part of a long, downward spiral than something new and unique to this particular issue.Report

    • greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      I realize we are slicing the cheese pretty thin here, but in the snip from McPaper they clearly identify the activist groups that were pushing for protests in 2005. How often has that happened in the current protests. D’s have complained about the astroturfing, but is the press out there noting who is doing it? Are they opening saying who is helping the protesters organize? Does anybody here know the name of the groups who are astroturfing the protests?

      FWIW I am not against advocacy groups organizing protests. That’s democracy. What started some of this kafuffle was people saying “wow look at these protests!!! Something must really be wrong with this plan” w/o noting that there were groups organizing and scripting. It took pushback from the D’s for the press to even admit there were advocacy groups as part of the protests.

      And finally, does anybody remember how various protesters couldn’t even get in “town halls” with Bush? Several people were arrested outside of “town halls” just for having the wrong bumper sticker. Bushy held “town hall” meetings with entirely picked crowds and the librul press didn’t seem to want to report that. So I do see a bit of difference with the current town halls: opponents are getting in and speaking.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to greginak says:

        That last paragraph is one of several reasons why the Right’s actions in this instance have, on the whole, been rather hard to swallow. There’s no doubt that a lot of the leading lights of movement conservatism are being hypocritical about all this. I just don’t think that hypocrisy justifies responding in the same way as movement conservatives did for the last 8 years. It’s a downward spiral and it really shouldn’t matter who tries to put a stop to it. “They did it first,” or “they’re doing it worse” is a child’s excuse, not something adults should be engaging in.Report

    • Jon H in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      ” “Ask pointed questions that put the representative or senator on record on important issues like benefit cuts, raising the retirement age and new debt necessary to pay for privatization.” ”

      That seems qualitatively different from what’s happening now. At least this seems to be fact-based, whereas the current protesters are apparently asking about paranoid delusions.Report

  4. Lev says:

    Don’t these morons realize that if healthcare reform happens, and it’s not the apocalyptic disaster they’re describing, that that just marginalizes them more?

    I think we’re really learning a lot about the conservative remnant these days. Why on earth do they think they deserve our trust? What credibility do they think they have? As usual with these things, it’s more about them than it is about healthcare. I sincerely think that most of these nuts think it’s 1994 again, and if they beat Obamacare, everything will turn back to the GOP. But the Democrats remember that time too, and are desperate to keep that from happening. There would be no better way to dishearten the right-wing mobs than passing good healthcare reform, good energy reform, and particularly good immigration reform. Obama knows this. Democrats know this. The best way to keep morale up is victory.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Lev says:

      And if healthcare reform goes through and things do not get better, really, then it can be blamed on us not doing enough and people who opposed it acting as wreckers.

      It’ll just need more funding and oversight, that’s all.Report

  5. Kyle says:

    This is a small comment but can I point out the shifting sands of principle here. I mean small government conservatives are the poster child for principles of convenience but now all of a sudden the Democratic Congressional Leaders (Durbin, Pelosi, Hoyer) care about dialogue and a normal political process. Four months ago they rammed the stimulus through Congress or the 300 page amendment added overnight.

    I mean the “debates” happening at town halls only really function as a proxy for lawmakers to gage how much their electoral success will be hurt or helped by what comes of health care reform, but the “debates” that matter are the ones to be had between members of congress, the executive branch, and connected lobbyists. The angry protesters aren’t affecting those much, are they? However, shutting down congressional debate and voting on largely unread bills seems far more antithetical to public discussion and the political process than a few hecklers ruining a good kabuki performance.

    Freddie’s been talking a lot lately about how conservatives/libertarians should hold their own side accountable to the same standards they hold liberals to. Not to pick on Jamelle, here, but this post makes it clear that challenge applies to non-conservative/libertarian sides as well.Report