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GOP Townhall Strategy: Wise or Wacky?

By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 06 August 2009

This is a very good article from CQ Politics on the GOP strategy to disrupt town hall meetings. On the face of it all, it appears to be a very effective GOP move to shut down the discussion of health care reform and psychologically appear to represent the majority. Rove must be very proud. It is a classic GOP move that dates back to the Bush/Gore recount (and beyond.) Hmm-let's see, how did that end? Did these tactics work? Oh, yeah, they certainly did!

So why stop now? It's simple, really: fire up (or strategically plant) some angry people who never liked President Obama to begin with (and who get most of their news from the Limbaughs and Becks of the world) and empower them (afterall, they feel so helpless knowing a black, Kenyan-born citizen is our president!) by sending them on a mission to disrupt discussions on health care. Give them some talking points (no silly, not on what the Republican ideas for Health Care might be!) on how to change the subject, yell over people, manipulate the setting to muffle any pro-reform voices, and intimidate the speaker at any cost.

Bingo. Republican leaders and radio/TV talk hosts will pump this up as a grassroots effort. They will continue their winks and nods, careful not to criticize even the most violent of signs (some featuring politicians hanging.) A GOP representative even cheered the protests on, happily comparing these animated town hall hijackings to lynchings.) They will keep pretending the lobbyist machines did not orchestrate this. The insurance companies love this! Republicans hope this will crush President Obama!

Only one problem: what if this goes too far? What if the protest signs become more graphic, unsettling? What if the threats turn even uglier? What if the hate talk crosses into racist turf? How far over the line will the leadership allow these "grassroots protesters" to go?  If they don't start to tone down the extremist messages out there, this Rove-blessed strategy could easily backfire, or worse, have terribly violent consequences.

WASHINGTON - The Earth-scorching August firefight over health care has given rise to questions about the point at which stifling civil discussion damages the democratic process.

All across the country, conservative opponents are clamoring to disrupt town-hall meetings about the proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system, using GOP-generated talking points to shout down Democratic congressmen who attempt to explain the plan.

The Constitution protects their right to speak freely, but Democrats say that they are limiting rather than promoting an open exchange of ideas.

Some experts on political organization say that despite the disruption of Democratic-run events — and divided public feelings on the health care overhaul — the shout-down strategy betrays an essential weakness on the Republican side, not a strength.

Nonetheless, the high-stakes battle has pressed allies of a president who built his narrative around his work as a community organizer into a campaign to delegitimize the organizers of the protests and their means of expression.

“Organized mobs across the country are intimidating lawmakers, disrupting events, and silencing discussions about the change our country needs,” one Obama campaign aide wrote in an e-mail to supporters in Michigan...


My question is why is the media, except for left-leaning media ignoring this? I think 60 Minutes should do a piece on this. The nightly news too. Because some people refuse to watch anything but Fox on cable. It needs to get out there so people realize they are being snowed. 


Sometimes I think this is why far righties are against any type of education reform, that they want stupid and unintelligent poeple that they can use as their tools of deciet. 

Since Fox is already preaching to the choir, it doesn't matter much in this case. What's important is that "Sane America" knows what's really going on...

And it's not only being covered by the left. It's really all over the MSM. Oh wait, I see what you mean. The libural media.

I'll be darned.  So you wear a tinfoil hat?  Well keep up the good work, it really seems to be protecting the ole thinker.  By the way, I'm just spitballing here, but I think that the reason most of the media is minimizing the town hall meetings is that there appear to be a lot of ANGRY Americans at them.  And that makes our dear president look bad.  We can't have that (unless you're one of those meanies at Fox News).  And by the way, in case  you stray from MSNBC, you might notice the latest Rasmussen Poll which indicates a MAJORITY of Americans is agains the healthcare legislation.  What a bunch of stupids Americans are.  And one more thing, the word is  spelled deceit. 

Welcome, I see you're new here. We don't allow people, especially newcomers to start out their relationship here in this manner. All points of view are welcomed but we DO NOT allow name calling or other insults, veiled, indirect or otherwise.

I hope I don't have to repeat myself (truth be told, I won't) but it would be appreciated if you found another way to express your issues with government policy. Thanks. 

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Well Golf, have you been named the conversation czar? And by the way, I didn't call anyone a name. I believe I was responding to Alina's brilliant comments regarding the sorry state of our citizens and country.

As a matter of fact I am, but I'm one of three now that you ask; although, this is not my major responsibility.

This is the last time I will speak on this subject, nor will I tolerate your smart alecky remarks when asked to comply with the standards of decorum on this site. We determine what's appropriate here, not you.

As for brilliant comments, please don't go there; in the short time you've been here, you've deposited many a "brilliant" tidbits of information that are consistent with the faux-naif persona of those representing your views.

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

If it's true that she is Lucy's sister than I don't think we'll get a cooperative attitude. However we should give another chance and maybe she'll express her views as a discussion rather than being condescending. The more people we can involve in civil discussion, the more we all learn. I kind of wish more people visited here with a civil opposition, then both sides might learn something. It takes and open mind though and some like Lucy and her sister seem so convinced that everyone else is deadly wrong and there's no worthwhile discussion to be had....

We've never minded differing points of view...ask Brandon and RF but I/we won't countenance obnoxious forum behavior used elsewhere in this space just so that we can "enjoy" that different point of view.

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

I know, I was just saying in general it'd be nice to have more people join up here with the intent on civil discussion no matter what their view.

We'd all love that, but if they can't behave like the rest of us, we run the risk of running a majority of people away because of a few cretins.

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

If they can't behave like the rest of us?  Really?  So much for diversity, not that I have noticed a diverse expression of opinions from a variety of people.  And the ill mannered, uncouth behavior I've been accused of looks remarkably similar to the conduct of the majority of your bloggers, albeit from a different point of view.  I believe you referred to me as a cretin?  And Lucy was referred to a troll?  I don't recall any expression of outrage over that.  Which is why you lack credibility.  You sit back, smug and self important, confident that anyone who disagrees with your point of view is likely an ignorant racist, too stupid to care for themselves, in need of govment daddy and others as brilliant as yourself to make important life decisions for them.  One thing I do understand is you are right to be in a panic.  Your President has been exposed as a fraud, and the MAJORITY of the American people are speaking.  Of course what do I know, I'm just an illiterate redneck.  I probably even believe in God.  How pitiful.

don't forget the gun, you have a gun.

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Why don't I ever get lumped in with Brandon or RF?

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

Probably for the same reason Mary Moo doesn't get lumped in with us, you voted and supported Obama.

RF, Blakey and I did not.



Always marginalized.

(BTW, I don't think that Mary actually voted for Obama. I could be wrong, though.) 

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

Aren't you a tad more socially liberal than they are? From my memory you seem to be more in the middle and it varies topic to topic. Maybe i've observed wrong? lol

Heh -- whether I'm accepting of certain "social liberal" views or not, I don't think you would have enough data to accuse either Brandon or RF of not being social liberal (or whatever).

I mean, we're all three of us opposed to abortion. I don't usually participate in gay rights/gay marriage threads and I don't know where RF or Brandon stand on those issues. What else is there that makes a person a "social liberal"?

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

I don't know I thought I remember you ok with gay marriage (as in not opposed to because it's no concern to you). I'm confused because I can't seem to recall much from your posts that reminds me of Brandon or RF. It's just a range of issues. It's actually weird because it seems like until recently you agreed with Suzi, Kelly etc more. I must not have been paying attention very well. Maybe it's because you don't seem to defend some of the things from the right as much as RF or Brandon. LOL It feels weird and stupid trying to categorize you going by memory....

Actually, I think you have me pegged about right.

Except for wanting to throw bombs once in awhile. <g>

I've argued with you and with Suzi and with Brandon and with RF.

I guess that I just don't fit neatly into a bucket. That's gratifying, I guess.

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

I also seem to recall you speaking up more about how much of a mistake Iraq was. Which I really hope i'm remembering correctly because I know you're a vet and probably have stronger feelings and understanding about these things. I think however most here agree and understand how we have to finish what we started as best we can....

Nah -- you got me wrong on that one. In fact, I had some big disagreements with SeaBeeWWII and a couple of others on the justification for invading Iraq.

Note: I agreed with it then and I still do now, even though some doubts have been raised in my mind -- such as it might have been more righteous (in the secular sense, not the religious one) to have done so after ensuring that Afghanistan was more secure.

But yeah, most here agree with finishing what we started. Or as I like to say "you broke it, you bought it."

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

We've also never had to pull you back from the abyss! :)

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Spoken like a true liberal.  When you don't like the message, you just shut down the messenger.  For some reason, I thought I still lived in a free country, although I fear it won't be for much longer.

LOL, Golf isn't even a liberal. You're so stuck in your generalizing world that anyone who isn't right there with you is an extreme liberal. Sad.

 This is a website with rules, just like any other website out there. You're acting like this is something new. I wonder how Free Republic or Red State would act if a liberal brought this attitude to their site. Surely, they'd let them keep their free speech, no? LOL

Heck i'm not even sure they'd let a civil liberal stick around if they kept underminding their across the board like minded opinions. This site is full of conservatives, liberals and moderates. News flash: Everyone just left of far right isn't an extreme liberal....

Heck, wasn't it either John or Golf who got kicked off Red State, and here he was a nice civil moderate Republican?

I would say I'm just a bit left of Center but I really appreciate a site where people are not disparaged for being Christians as they are on leftist sites, and yes we have even had good discussions on religious topics as well as politics.  That's quite an achievement for a website where people are not in lockstep in their beliefs!

So thanks again, Suzi, John Martin, and Golf11 for all your work in keeping this such a fine site!

You're so welcome, Minn.  It is amazing just how diverse we are, and how often we can disagree, but remain civil, respectful, even friendly. 

It was John that got kicked off of RedState...for daring to suggest that our party not cater to the radical right wing.

what ^^^^she said.
Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

And by the way, I didn't call anyone a name.

Oh, really? From your first post on this thread:

What a bunch of stupids Americans are.

If you're so disillusioned that every American deserves the "stupid" label (grammatical nitpicks aside), why don't you sail out to international waters and be the smartest person of your own country?

Or if it's the government you hate, why not move to Somalia? I hear it's an anarchist's dream.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I was being sarcastic in response to the other post regarding the conservative plot to keep people ignorant.  And it seems like maybe it's working.

So it would be OK for me to walk into your home and call you a dumb blue collar backward hick from Missouri, to your face, out of sarcasm after knowing you for just 5 minutes?

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Is this your home golf or a public forum?  And once again, I didn't notice any outrage when the nastiness was directed at someone with a conservative point of view.  And don't worry, I know it wasn't your intent to actually imply that I was a dumb, blue collar, backward hick (masters degree, working professional) from Missouri.  You're way too classy for that.
Again, this isn't a public forum. It's open to anybody, but the owner and moderators have rules like any other website out there. If you can't even comprehend this, it's no wonder you are the way you are....

The outrage isn't for the conservative point of view, it is for the belligerent, rude and obnoxious way it is expressed. 

Let's just say we are a semi-public forum, our cozy  internet home, with the welcome mat out for any and all who behave themselves in a respectful manner.  Those who don't, will be shown to the door.  They may sneak back in a few times, but eventually we grow weary and change the locks.

It's as public as me using the public airwaves to make harrassing phone calls to you or anyone else. As for backward hick with a Master's degree, you get my point, either way it's rude, funny with your Master's degree you don't get that.

Either comply or find another place to act out please.

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

So just to be clear, because as you've all repeatedly pointed out, I obviously have some cognitive challenges, it is OK for you to be rude and nasty, however, I should maintain a pleasant demeanor?
You came in the door being rude...that brings out the worst in us.  So yes, be pleasant, or at least civil. 
Rick Sanchez of CNN is doing a good piece on this right now.

Unfortunately, Rick Sanchez (who is pretty good by the way) comes on during  the middle of the day, when most people would be elsewhere other than home (work, school, etc), and not able to watch. So this may not be getting out to many people.

As an aside, Rick Sanchez was the first reporter I spoke to by phone at around 6 am Miami time the morning of Hurricane Andrew. I don't know how he managed to get through, with many phones lines down, but he did. I will always remember that. He worked for WSVN Ch 7 in Miami at the time.


Speaking of Andrew, I just realized that I took a huge chance by having a meet-up with you during hurricane season.  Your track record for being where the big one's are is, well....scary. ;-)

"Sometimes I think this is why far righties are against any type of education reform, that they want stupid and unintelligent poeple that they can use as their tools of deciet."

 What's funny Hope is that you hear this from people on the far right all the time about those on the left.  I'm constantly reading about how the left wants to keep voters especially minority ones ignorant so they will continue to vote for liberal politicians with the same leftist ideas of the 1960s.

Interesting that both sides think the same thing about the other as far as what they consider the "ignorant masses." 

That probably means both sides are wrong.


So, Brandon, what do you think about these poeple being paid and bussed to town halls, being told what to say to disrupt the town halls? Or do you think that is made up by the liberal media?


I haven't followed the story that closely.

Do we know for a FACT that the majority of the people showing up at these town hall meetings are bussed in and paid?

I think citizens have the right to ask their representatives hard hitting questions, but it should be done in an orderly and civilized manner and those that don't obey the rules of the forum or act in a disruptive manner should be removed. 



<I haven't followed the story that closely>

 Why not?  It would seem to me that the more sane Republicans would be interested in those who are making the entire party look insane and "fringy", and do what they could to stop the insanity in it's tracks.  It would benefit the party. 

A bigger reason to follow a story like this is to find out who and what really drives our government process.  Both parties are guilty as hell.  Obama seems to be caught in the difficult place of trying to implement  his vision for change, but being forced at times to work within the established special interests of the congress that actually writes the bills.   It's scary, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for our President!!

No particular reason I haven't been following this story.  

I guess it would be a combination of two things:

1.  I have other interests besides "Republican politics" and sometimes get a little burned out following politics although I never get tired of visiting RFO a few times a day.

2.   The whole birther/townhall thing frustrates me because Chris Matthews among others is trying to act like most conservatives support this kind of BS and that makes me upset.

Your #2 is exactly why we have to pay attention to this kind of story, and let the voices of other, more rational Republicans be heard, loud and clear!!   If our voices aren't heard, then it will be easy for anyone to assume that we are all like that.

I hear you Suzi, but doesn't it make you feel kind of hopeless.

Here, we are just preaching to the choir.  Anyone that reads RFO would now realize that not all Republicans are engaged in this kind of crap and that many are very open minded and put country before party and that some are so open minded, they even voted for Obama.

You, John, Golf, Izzy etc. have certainly proved that point over the past year.  I think me and RF and Blakey have finally proven that even those of us who were not Obama supporters are willing to have a civil discussion and try to learn from more moderate and even liberal voters.  

The birther issue is so stupid that I will tell anyone how pathetic that makes us look.  

I expressed opposition to the tea parties to some Republican friends and got "butchered" for it, so I'm kind of reluctant to even address the town hall mobs. 

Well said Brandon. Unfortunately, with the relatively small group who post on here regularly I feel like we are just shrinking away to nothing. Former Gov. Almond (R - RI) was on Maddow last night talking about running as a 3rd party candidate - guess that is what it will come to for the intelligent Conservatives cut from the cloth of William F.


- formerly klaf


I realize that you don't like Matthews, but he is making a salient point.  No strong RNC or GOPers are standing up to this uncivil behavior.  This goes way over the top the nonsense of these staged lunatics and in my memory I do not recall an instance wherein the "lefties" have stooped to such uncivil and obstructionist behavior to keep the other side from voicing their opinion.  In fact I remember that when anybody even dared to oppose Bush during the worst times of the war (ie. Cindy Sheehan), they were labeled "Un-American" and "Un-Patriotic".  She lost a son to this wrong war and frankly, if a parent of a fallen hero does not have a right to protest, then who does.  She never stopped people from voicing their opinion.

The behavior of these people and the groups that are encouraging this are far worse and proves that when the right does not get their way, they throw very dangerous tantrums.  This is getting very bad and is very reminiscent of the Palin rally crowds.  Someone with some balls on the right better get out there and stop this uncivilized behavior before it goes really wrong.  Limbaugh is comparing Obama to Hitler and Nazis. 

Actually, Maggie, I do like Matthews.  His love of politics is contagious.  It was Brandon that mentioned him, not me.  If you read the previous posts, I was making a point to Brandon, who is a dyed in the wool conservative.  I wanted him to realize that Republicans who think this disruptive behaviour is bad, need to make their voices heard, or the result will be the belief that all conservatives are of the same mind set. In a way, I guess I was encouraging him to be one of the ones to get some balls. ;-)

I agree totally with everything you posted here.  We have a couple of threads going about this subject, and if you read what I have written, and the links I have posted, you will see I am outraged, sickened, and frankly, a bit frightened at what I see happening.   It seems that in today's GOP, the lunatics are running the asylum.

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