Healthcare Gets Ugly

3 Aug

I am watching a surreal scene right now, swapping back and forth between Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity. Earlier tonight I did the same with Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. Buffalo Pundit may be right – cable news has been reduced to 100% FAIL.

It turns out today Congressmen (and women) went back to their constituents and held town hall meetings about healthcare reform. At many of these meetings, they were met by very angry crowds who yelled, loudly, about their healthcare. For a taste of what it was like, watch this video with Arlen Specter (not even home yet).

The surrealness is that the two shows are showing exactly the same footage, but presenting them in such opposing ways that they barely resemble eachother. To Maddow, all of these pawns of corporate interests are fake opposition stopping what everyone “knows” Americans want, namely universal healthcare. To Hannity, these citizen patriots are finally telling the insulated politicians the truth: I like my healthcare just fine, so leave it alone. Before this, I had to suffer through another self-indulgent “Special Comment,” which closely resembled this:


except this time it was about how the full weight of the Progressive movement will come down on the heads of Dems if they don’t pass healthcare. I’m not making that up (the link isn’t up yet on the web to prove it). Seriously, CBS should revoke Olbermann’s right to tarnish the phrase “Good Night and Good Luck.”

Which version, Hannity or Maddow, is the truth? Well, obviously neither. And the hypocrisy flows unbounded because three years ago, the videos were in reverse. Remember this?


That would be Code Pink disrupting hearings, speeches, and events all over the country in opposition to the Iraq War. Heroes of the Maddow’s, and scourge of the Hannity’s. Obviously the right has learned some lessons from the left.

So, do you support disruptive First Amendment rights when its only on your side? That’s an open question. And if your answer includes the words “special interest,” lobbyist,” or “campaign contribution,” I’m not interested in hearing it.

11 Responses to “Healthcare Gets Ugly”

  1. Chris Smith August 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    Who were the corporate interests and lobbying firms who were distributing talking points and organizing tips to Code Pink? How much legitimate coverage did the anti-war movement receive from these outlets? Hardly any.

    The same angry minority who were a subset of the McCain voter base and were riled up by Palin labeling Obama as a terrorist sympathizer are the same people wearing the tri-cornered hats, throwing teabags, fighting over birth certificates, and now disrupting town hall meetings with tips from Freedom Works. We’ve reached a nadir in this society for legitimate debate, discourse and discussion.

    The shit that was happening in those town hall meetings is not organic and if a few are actually spontaneous gatherings, they are informed by bullshit talking points about Obamacare’s plans for pulling the plug on their Grandmother and the steamroller train of Universal Healthcare. Seeing as how there is not a bill for review as of yet and the public option is barely on the table, this is all bullshit. We’re not even proposing anything remotely like single payer, which is the ultimate irony.

    I know it helps you make sense of it all to equivocate Code Pink with Freedom Works and other lobby inspired activist groups, but it’s really not a comparison.

  2. Brian Castner August 3, 2009 at 10:53 pm #

    @ Chris – is your issue the funding, or the substance? Because I think its easy for you to lump together everyone to the right of you into a “fringe group.” Lump together enough fringe groups and you could have a majority. What do birfers and tea baggers have to do with healthcare? What makes these people “not organic?” If the organization and $$$ comes from, does it make it more organic? Why? You can chose to see all these people as ignorant pawns in some corporation’s great game if you want. But just for a second, imagine that some people 1) like their health insurance and want to keep it, 2) aren’t crazy and 3) are scared because Obama has done such a terrible job selling his plain vanilla nothing of a bill. Because we agree on one thing: this health reform is neither about health, nor a reform.

  3. Christopher Smith August 4, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Both. You continue to equivocate grassroots organizations like MoveOn and Code Pink with industry sponsored astroturf lobbying groups. Just like you did in the discussion of thinktanks and it doesn’t make sense. I know that MoveOn is financially supported by “Big Peace” and “Big Non-Profit” and “Big Wealthy People Advocating For Higher Taxes On Themselves” whereas FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Century Strategies, Patients United Now, DCI Group, CPPR receive funding from healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. See the difference?

    Organizations fronting for the medical, insurance and pharmaceutical agencies disseminated talking points, people were organized and were then sent to purposefully disrupt the meetings in an attempt to make the opposition look larger and more virulent.

    I’m sure there are people at the meetings who are genuinely opposed to healthcare reform, but that’s not the point. Those people would probably be interested in a dialogue and a respectful exchange of ideas. However, they aren’t the voices we’re hearing. They are drowned out by the astroturfers. As an aside, I would say that many people opposed to healthcare reform are not armed with the proper facts and are instead reliant upon their own anecdotal experiences and unexamined talking points they pick up from watching the news. But, that’s a whole other argument.

  4. Christopher Smith August 4, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Also, if you want to know why I put the birthers, teabaggers, and astroturf healthcare screamers into one big category, I suggest you sign up for the ReformNYS Google Group. That is the statewide mailing list for the tea party organization and is a small representative sample of the nationwide “movement”.

    I subscribe to a lot of these mailing lists, read their sites and follow their online groups. You really need to understand what we’re dealing with, I think you really believe this is a minority of people. They’re not. The fringe on the right is growing and it is getting more unhinged every day.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2009 at 6:10 am #

      Code Pink was ultimately unsuccessful. For all their antics, we’re still busy in Iraq.

      So, my question is, why would the Republicans or the teabaggers or whoever adopt the antics of groups (a) they despise; (b) offended them; and (c) did not succeed in their advocacy.

      No point following up one failure with another.

  5. Colin August 4, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    Apart from the difference in the groups involved (grassroots vs astroturf), the issues are different, too. There’s kind of a difference between trying to prevent a war that will kill a million people for no reason and trying to prevent a reform that might raise taxes on the rich for a good reason.

  6. Brian Castner August 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    @ Colin: If the difference is you agree with one side, and not another, then there is no difference.

    @ Alan: Code Pink was unsuccessful, but did get people like Harry Reid to declare the war lost before the Surge even started. They affected the debate. As are the healthcare screamers now. And so they emulated it because, as Colin alludes to, the tactics are okay as long as its your position. But there is one big difference between Code Pink and the current screamers: Code Pink protested at hearings, and the screamers are at town hall meetings for constituents. I guess Maddow thinks constituents speaking to their rep’s is somehow undemocratic.

    @ Chris: that’s the funny thing about free speech: its free whether it comes from corporations or individual people. Like campaign finance law: money is speech. has money, and buys speech. So do lobbyists and corporations. As Olbermann points out, the money flows to R’s and Dem’s. The astroturf label to groups you don’t agree with is the liberal elitism that ultimately fails. When I hear someone complaining about the funding, it means you have stopped fighting on substance. If your ideas are really better, why are you simply trying to get the other side to shut up? If you want to win on this issues, do it. If you want to make fun of the protestors, you do at the peril of your ability to make policy, as shown by many many many years of liberal activism. And on the fringe, I’m afraid you are right. I’m teaching a class to some some soldiers currently, and am hearing plenty of birfer talk from guys that would normally simply be R’s. But I heard plenty about Bush’s fake National Guard records, back in the day, from mainstream Dem’s, and that faded. Hopefully this does too.

  7. Brian Castner August 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    One more thing: Dems used to say dissention was the highest form of patriotism (when protesting the Iraq War). Now, disagreeing with the healthcare bill makes you a pawn, an idiot, or both. Pot, meet kettle.

  8. Bob August 4, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    I am dead set against what I see as a step towards proven failure that socialized HC is and always will be,but I will benifit under Obamacare.

    If cheaper forced government care is avaible my wife will quit her job that she basically works now for insurance. The children will be removed from day care and I will see a gross drop in our families income that will directly reduce my tax bracket while my net income will go up. The only losers will be the childcare providers and government. I am sure since my wife is in the medical field her more adminstrative job would be left unfilled. There are thousands if not millions of people who would do the same. Since taxes are down on the federal level over 15% where are they going to get the money ? answer middle class…you wanted change thats all ou will have left

  9. Matt August 6, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    I don’t see how the issues are at all parallel, unless you agree that war profiteers and health insurance agencies use the same tactics as well. This is a good read, from a very ‘right’ leaning editorial board that backed McCain:


  1. An Eruption of Disruption | - August 4, 2009

    […] from the likes of Code Pink and the righty disruptions at health care town hall meetings,  Buffalo Geek rebuts that, pointing out that Code Pink are funded by: “Big Peace” and “Big Non-Profit” and “Big […]

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