I used to admire the gentleman who challenged Todd Akin’s lies about the Employee Free Choice Act at Akin’s town hall last April. But now I know that he was a piker. He got himself escorted from the room. Republicans are being trained in effective harassment techniques, and they wouldn’t be subjected to any such indignity. The Democrat’s mistake was that he spoke logically and at some length about why Akin’s claims were lies. I managed to find him with my camcorder. I can never locate the Republican loudmouths because they yell one obnoxious sentence and then sit down.
Aside from the fact that such behavior comes more or less naturally to them, they are actually being coached to do that. Here’s the memo via Think Progress from the astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity. (You gotta love the irony in the title: “Best” Practices?)
Rocking the Town Halls–Best Practices
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
Democrats usually object to Republican lies with facts. Logic. Civility. Tsk. How hopelessly old school. Russ Carnahan and Claire’s staffer, Michelle Sherod, having experienced Americans for Prosperity tactics first hand, can tell you how town hall activism is done in 2009.
Unfortunately, HCAN may also soon find itself on the business end of these tactics. HCAN would like to arrange its own town hall with a McCaskill staffer, much like the AFP one last Monday, to express support for healthcare reform. Good luck if you try it, because the bullyboys will show up, and they’re not going to behave the way liberals did at the AFP event.
A UK educational website about Nazi Germany observes that: “Extremists [Nazis] continued to disturb meetings of opposing political groups.”
I’m just sayin’.
And an afterthought: The local point man for Americans for Prosperity is Carl Bearden, who, before the Monday event, twittered a link to a site that advises making your point “Nicely. Politely. With a smile.” I don’t know whether Bearden didn’t get the latest AFP memo, but it sure looks like plenty of others did. Or maybe he only advises making nicey-nice when the event is sponsored specifically on behalf of his group.