John on August 19, 2009 at 10:05 am
Having read the headline, you’re expecting me to say HA! Fooled you! But, no, I’m actually serious:
American history is littered with movements that have organized aggressively to exaggerate their sway. Samuel Adams was a master manipulator of the town hall, rallying opponents of British policy to show up at meetings and then publicizing the outcomes â€” communicated through the colonies’ Committees of Correspondence â€” to embolden patriots in other towns. While one might resist drawing a moral equivalence between our founding fathers and today’s self-proclaimed Tea Partiers, the principle is the same: outraged citizens married to savvy organizers.
One reason the town hall protesters are called Astroturf is that they have ties to groups with corporate financing like FreedomWorks, run by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader. But the Obama administration has been doing its own stage managing. At a town hall in Virginia last month, the president took questions from members of organizations with close ties to the administration, including the Service Employees International Union and Organizing for America, which is a part of the Democratic National Committee. The Web site of another liberal group, Health Care for America Now, instructs counter-protesters to “bring enough people to drown” out the Tea Partiers.
Is this Astroturf?
It’s a good point. Now that the evidence of this sort of thing is piling up on the left, the Times is ready to jump in and say it’s a non-call.
However, I think we cross a line when it comes to paying people to show up places and advocate for something. US-PIRG has been hiring people nationwide to do just that, but strangely that doesn’t come up at all in this piece. Granted most of those taking the jobs wouldn’t do so to advocate something they don’t believe anyway. Nevertheless, it’s a good bet they wouldn’t be advocating it sans the paycheck.
I have yet to see anyone claim that ObamaCare protesters are being paid. In other words, one side really is astroturfing the debate, even under this definition of the term.
Category: Politics |