Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What was Behind the Scenes of the Town Hall Protests?

Summary: Who is behind the disruptive Town Hall Protests and what should Health Care Reform proponents watch out for?

I happened to pick up a copy of the latest edition of Rolling Stone this morning, and read a very in-depth political article by Tim Dickinson.

The article, entitled “The Lie Machine” expands on the inside story of August’s town hall protests that we started following over a month and a half ago.

Now, bear in mind that Rolling Stone is notoriously liberal, and the language they use may be more forceful than most media outlets would make it. However, I thought it would be good to relay you some parts of the article today.

From the section “Writing the Script”:

The campaign to mobilize the town-hall mobs began with a script written by the right’s foremost fear-monger, Frank Luntz. Luntz rose to fame in 1994 as pollster for Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, and crafted the Republican playbook on global warming. In a May memo, Luntz outlined a battle plan for conservatives to block what he branded the “Washington takeover” of health care - the most terrifying buzz words conjured up in his polls and focus groups.

The logic of the language is simple, Luntz writes: “Takeovers are like coups - they both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.” For a third of Americans, he adds, the top worry about health care reform is “being denied a procedure or medication because a Washington bureaucrat says no.” Luntz concludes by telling Republicans how best to play the fear card. “It is essential that ‘deny’ and ‘denial’ enter the conservative lexicon immediately,” he writes, “because it is at the core of what scares Americans most about a government takeover of health care.”

Distributed widely to Republicans on Capitol Hill, the memo framed the right-wing attack on health care reform. What Luntz describes as “the best anti-Democrat message” is now familiar to everyone in America: “No Washington bureaucrat should stand between your family and your doctor…The Democrats want to put Washington politicians in charge of YOUR health care.”

Here is part of the next section, “Assembling the Team”:

Americans for Prosperity, which has taken the lead in the current fight against reform, is a front group for oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, co-owners of the world’s largest private oil and gas conglomerate. The Kochs, who provide much of AFP’s budget, have a strange affinity for mock uprisings: Matt Schlapp, one of the original “Brooks Brothers rioters” - the GOP activists who disrupted the Bush-Gore recount in Miami-Dade County - now serves as director of federal affairs for Koch Industries, orchestrating the firm’s political efforts in Washington.

To head Americans for Prosperity, the brothers tapped Tim Phillips, one of the Republican Party’s most notorious dirty tricksters. Phillips served as a strategic consultant to George W. Bush in 2000 and reputedly took part in the smear campaign in South Carolina that portrayed John McCain’s adopted daughter as his mulatto love child. That same year, Phillips was linked to a nearly identical smear campaign in Virginia that portrayed the primary opponent of Rep. Eric Cantor - a Jew - as the “only Christian in the contest.” Under Phillips, AFP became a driving force behind the Tea Party protests against Obama’s economic stimulus plan, and the group organized the Austin mob that attacked Rep. [Lloyd] Doggett. Boosted by the mobilizing effort, AFP now boasts 700,000 members and chapters in 24 states.

Dickinson continues the article - loaded with evidence from memos he has been able to collect - explaining how the team then executed the plan to mobilize the protests, and how they collaborated with Republican leaders in Congress.

It is certainly worth a read.

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