Mob Rules

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Memo to everyone arguing about the "legitimacy" of the angry Town Hall Mobs: YOU ARE DUMB.

I've said it over and over again, and it's still true. The rules of politics have changed. The right has spent decades changing those rules for its own benefit, and they've been aided in this task by Democrats, who think they can bring the old rules back if they just keep playing by them. The usual metaphor I use to describe this involves insisting on following Marquis of Queensbury rules after you've been kicked in the balls for the fifth time in a row.

After Obama won, I thought there was a chance that he understood this, and would govern accordingly. The fight over health care reform shows this is clearly not the case. Because the first rule of the new political reality is that facts don't exist, and Obama's health care game plan seems to be based entirely around the common belief in blatantly obvious facts. See how well that's working out?

The collective handling of the Blargers is another example. The Blargers are the insane descendants of the McCain/Palin rally crowds from 2008, by way of 2009's teabaggers. A bunch of old, white, cranky, racist fucks waving swastikas around and shouting incomprehensible bullshit about socialism. And they've been going to the recess town hall meetings of Democratic senators and shouting BLARG BLARG BLARG so that nobody can actually discuss policy, and so that the news cameras get something interesting to show on the teevee.

Some of the response to this has been good. The DNC compared them to birthers and teabaggers. This is a good tactic, but not because they're birthers and teabaggers. That's a fact, and facts don't matter. No, you compare them to birthers and teabaggers because the birthers and teabaggers have come closer to not being taken seriously than any other right-wing fringe group in the last two decades. So you paint your opponents as unstable, crazy people, with the fact that they actually are unstable, crazy people helping you get to sleep at night.

But then there's the attempt to expose this fake movement, coordinated by high-ranking GOP lobbyists and operatives, as a fake movement, coordinated by high-ranking GOP lobbyists and operatives, and that's a mistake, because that's ONLY a fact. And worse, it's a fact that exposes the stupidity and hypocrisy of your opponents, and nobody ever turned away from your opponents for being stupid hypocrites.

This is 2009. You can't discredit someone for being in bed with big-money Washington interests. Why? Because the discrediting is done by the media, and the media are in bed with big-money Washington interests. Except for the ones who ARE big-money Washington interests. The Club For Growth and Americans For Prosperity telling people what to say isn't news. It's how D.C. journalism has operated for over a decade.

Here's the thing. If the media decides it has a good reason, it is perfectly capable of marginalizing and ignoring even a perfectly legitimate grassroots uprising. You know, like the anti-war movement. They just need a reason. I'm not saying finding one they'll accept will be easy, I'm just saying that AstroTurf isn't it.

The best bet is to make them look like irrelevant idiots. Since they ARE irrelevant idiots, this should provide a fertile ground for ideas. I mean, let's face it. If a bunch of ignorant, riled-up yahoos had any real numbers behind them, their ignorant, riled-up yahoo queen, Sarah Palin, would be doing Vice President stuff instead of posting on Facebook about how death panels are going to murder her developmentally-disabled baby.

Well, OK, technically, she'd still be posting on Facebook about how death panels are going to murder her baby. But she'd be doing it from the Naval Observatory instead of wherever the fuck she's holed up now. Create the perception that they are a tiny minority. Create the perception that they are opposing something everyone else agrees makes perfect sense. Don't challenge the veracity of their claims, dismiss their claims, true or otherwise.

Which reminds me of another example of why facts don't matter. Obama tried to get people involved, asking them to call a tip-line to report disinformation about the health care plans. Within hours, the right morphed this into an Obama Enemies List, in which the President was asking the American people to perform illegal domestic surveillance, collecting private data on what good, hard-working Americans say and do. Is it true? Of course not. Is it laughably hypocritical, given the non-stop defense of Bush-era domestic surveillance? Of course it is. Does any of this matter? Like fuck it does.

There's this asshole, Kenneth Gladney. He's going around, trying to be a martyr, claiming he was beaten by "union thugs" in a dust-up at a town hall meeting in St. Louis. From a purely political standpoint, Gladney should be completely fucking demonized. For faking injuries, for begging for money to pay to treat his injuries because he doesn't have health insurance, and for whatever else they can dig up or make up about him. Go to his house, see how nice his countertops are. If it's good enough for a 12 year old kid on S-CHIP, it's good enough for this guy.

Again, the fact that he probably isn't injured, and probably wasn't beaten up by union thugs is irrelevant. Given half a moment, Kenneth Gladney will become enshrined by the media as the official symbol for Leftist Pro-Health-Care Violence. Even though the very concept makes no sense at all. And if THAT happens, then you can kiss any remaining chance to marginalize the Blargers goodbye. It'll be patriotic hard-working Americans (on Medicare) who just hate government-run health care against a stereotype of union goon from back when Jimmy Hoffa was above ground.

Once again, they brought a gun to your knife fight, only the Democrats misread the invitation to the knife fight, thought it said "tea party", and argued with each other over who'd be bringing the petits fours.