One of the more significant and telling parts of the healthcare debate is to watch the behavior of both sides. As Yogi once said, you can observe an awful lot just by watching.
The people engaged in opposing healthcare reform and the public option have been engaging in tactics we've seen before.
They drape themselves in the American flag, accusing those who disagree as socialist or communist, or just plain anti-American. They claim their way is the American way. They did the same thing with anyone who opposed the invasion of Iraq and everyone knows what happened there.
During the Iraq war Clear Channel dropped Nightline from their TV stations around the country when Nightline had the audacity to start showing the names of soldiers who had been killed in Iraq on a daily basis. And everyone remembers what happened to the Dixie Chicks thanks to the moronic Texas station manager who banned their music and the organized burning of Dixie Chicks CD's which looked in every way like the images of Nazi book burning.
People like this operate not only out of sheer ignorance, but part of the plan is to drown out real and useful information, keep it from getting to people and let ignorance ( and their ideology) rule. The other tactic is what is called "the big lie". Tell a lie big enough and often enough and there are a lot of people who will swallow it. And that has been having its affect as well.
What we see with the disrupters ( not protestors which is fine, but they are not protesting, their goal is to disrupt) is ironic because everything these people engage in comes right out the fascist handbook. From telling "the big lie" to trying to drown out anything that dispels it. And then they claim they are the true Americans.
If you listen to what's actually behind their opposition to the public option you learn that for most of them, it's not enough that they don't want it, they don't want you to have it. Its been made clear over and over that anyone who wants to keep their present insurance can. But that's not enough for these true believers. They dont want a public option because they dont want anyone else to have the choice. It is ideology at work. And pure utter ignorance.
How ignorant are these people who oppose reform and the public option? As Paul Krugman reports, a man in a town hall meeting in South Carolina stood up and shouted at Congressman Bob Inglis, "keep your government hands off my Medicare". When Inglis tried to explain that Medicare was already a government program, the man "wouldnt have any of it".
These are people who represent a political group whose polices were a disaster for the country the last 8 years. But to them it doesn't matter. Its the philosophy that matters not whether it works or solves problems. And what the Republicans use to motivate these people are the same tactics that have always been used to motivate a mob -- fear.
We saw another man comparing healthcare reform to Nazi Germany in the 30s, and signs showing Obama with a Hitler mustache. Limbaugh has picked up on the Nazi and Hitler theme and if anything, it is a classic example of projection with the real fascists accusing the other side of being exactly what they are.
Another problem is the news coverage. A CNN reporter interviewed a union member outsdie a town hall meeting in Maryland who opposed health care reform because he said he didnt think he should be forced to give up his insurance and take something he didnt want. In true CNN fashion, the reporter, obviously feeling it wasnt his place to actually inform anyone of anything, didnt tell this man that the plan doesnt force anyone to take anything and that the public option is voluntary. So the news media is content to let those who are completely ignorant of what is being proposed to stay that way. After all it makes for some good pictures.
It is certainly true that Obama and his White House have botched the entire health care debate beyond anything thought possible, thanks to a complete lack of leadership. And Obama has shown no ability to fight back. They allowed the Republicans to make their dishonest charges without a strong and powerful response and the result has been that the conservative mobs are either believing the lies or are simply willing to be foot soldiers in an ideological cause. CNN and Wolf Blitzer in particular have shown they are the most easily intimidated by the mob mentality.
The question now is to what extent will Obama and his White House fight back? Are they going to label the Republican position lies something they should have done weeks ago? Are they going to take them on and fight? Or are they going to just offer weak resistance like John Kerry did in 2004?
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