Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.), president of the freshman Democratic class, warned that right-wing groups are taking things to "a dangerous level" by manufacturing anger based on false information.
"When you look at the fervor of some of these people who are all being whipped up by the right-wing talking heads on Fox, to me, you're crossing a line," Connolly said. "They're inciting people to riot with just total distortions of facts. They think we're going to euthanize Grandma and the government is going to take over." […]
Connolly said he spoke to at least one freshman Democrat who was physically assaulted at a local event. [emphasis added]
True? No clue who that "freshman Democrat" might be, but it's not a stretch given that we've already seen other types of behavior from the mobs:
And this morning, a couple more violent-tendency acts cen be added to the list:
- At a “Freedom Conference” meeting earlier this week, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) mentioned that some Democratic lawmakers were almost “lynched” by angry protesters around the country at town hall meetings. In response, the crowd loudly laughed and applauded.
Funny. Lynching Democrats. Ha ha.
And closer to home, we learn of death threats:
- Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) will not be hosting any town hall events this August — instead, he's making himself available to constituents for one-on-one meetings about health care reform — and at least part of the reason is this: His offices have received threatening phone calls, including at least one direct threat against his life. "We had no town hall events scheduled for the August recess anyway, but in light of everything that's happened — we have received a threatening phone call in the D.C. office, there have been calls to the Raleigh office," said Miller communications director LuAnn Canipe, in an interview with TPM. The threatening call in question happened earlier this week.
RNC Chariman Michael Steele is either clueless or lying when he says his party is not involved with those who use intimidation tactics to stifle public discussion.
"We're not inciting anyone to go out and disrupt anything," said Steele. "We're not organizing the town halls," only encouraging individuals to visit their congressman or senator to "express their point of view."
"There's no upside for the Republican Party [in the protests]," he said later in the call. "That's not something that's coordinated or deliberately set in motion by me or anyone in the state party.
"…To sit back and say this is a Republican cabal is a bunch of baloney. And you can substitute that 'b' for something else if you want."
Steele added that Republicans "are not encouraging people to be angry to the point of being brutish and ugly."
Oh, they're not?
Sorry, but the mobs have been cheered on every step of the way by elected Republican leaders. You've got no less that the House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), gleefully praising the right-wing "backlash," and promising a "long, hot August" for Democrats. His office blatently promoted the mob attacks again yesterday.
Then you've got the NRCC publicizing "Recess Roastings," promoting the notion that, as Republican leaders boast, town-hall meetings have become "town-hell" meetings.
Will this work?
I think it will motivate the GOP base. It won't win any converts to the party though. In fact it might lose some. Exhibit A is the Napa Valley Register — a conservative newspaper — which ran an interesting editorial on a mob screamfest yesterday:
The display was unwelcome — and unsuccessful if it was meant to move health care reform supporters toward considering the concerns of the critics. Several callers to the Register on Tuesday reported they were repulsed by the aggressive tactics of some members of the crowd. [emphasis added]
To the degree the catcalls, chants and shouts were organized — and it appears from events around the country that they were — we strongly suggest that the organizers find more constructive ways to get their message out.
Exhibit B, this time from Texas:
The crowd was so disrespectful that one frustrated attendee said he had come to the town hall with the intention of giving Rep. Green “a really hard time,” but changed his mind because he was fed up with another man who was “screaming behind my head for the last hour.”
Still, there's no reason why people who support healthcare reform shouldn't fight back.
UPDATE: Glenn Beck seems to know what's coming, and is trying to innoculate himself:
Well now, let me give the warning to you: If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the Republic. I feel it with everything in me. There is a great reason for hope right now. Because, I am telling you, for the first time — since I started saying this in the last couple of years — for the first time I know it, I feel it, the American people are starting to wake up.
These people in Washington have no idea what they have done. They have wakened a sleeping giant. But just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for, because these people in Washington won't pass up the use of an emergency.
Look how the media ran with the abortion-doctor killing. They tried to pin that despicable act on Fox in general and specifically, Bill O'Reilly and me! The only thing either of us have ever said is there's no reason for that, ever.
Dave Neiwart responds:
Sorry, Glenn, but that isn't the only thing either of you have ever said. O'Reilly also happened to refer to Dr. Tiller as a "baby killer" nearly thirty times, and accused him of mass murder as well as running "an abortion mill" where he had "aborted 60,000 fetuses." He even mused aloud about someone taking him out.
Sure, you can add a disclaimer at the end telling people never to commit violence. But coming at the tail end of an endless litany of incendiary demonization, that's pretty weak tea as lame excuses go.