Thursday, August 06, 2009

Repelling the Descending Hordes

In keeping with the White House talking points that Errol Louis followed slavishly in his column this morning, Steve Kornacki plays follow the leader on the Politicker web site-and wonders, where are the liberal mobs? "One by one, Democratic congressmen have watched this summer as their local town hall meetings have been overwhelmed and shut down by irate conservative activists who oppose health care reform. The top-down nature of these protests has been noted. Nonetheless, they’re a potentially effective tool, because the pictures and video images that they generate can be compelling to casual news consumers. As a result, some Democrats have begun to grumble: Where is our mob?"

Top down nature is, however, as tricky concept-as we have noted-and to harp on this alleged feature of the protests is to run the risk of exacerbating the problems that ObamaCare is facing at present. In our view, the attempt to delegitimize the grass roots nature of the disruptions, will only serve to egg them on; and increase them in both size and scope.

But Kornacki's, "where's our liberal mob?" question is an interesting one-his answers, however, are less than compelling: "After all, one of the great achievements of Barack Obama’s campaign was its ability to mobilize everyday people in historic numbers. Why isn’t someone making sure those same people turn up to counter the Republicans now? The problem is that, when it comes to mobilizing its base, Democrats are—for now—at a decided disadvantage on health care."

True enough-but isn't it because the folks aren't really buying the Democratic narrative? Not according to Kornacki; it's because the Republicans are able to falsify and to demonize, while the Democrats await the final details-with nothing solid to grab hold of: "Democrats, on the other hand, have more diffuse interests at this point. Their party runs the White House and Congress and, consequently, they have long expected real health care reform to be implemented this year. With the legislation still inching through Congress, there’s nothing—yet—for them to feel passionate about. The right can scream about evils of “the Obama plan,” but the left knows there’s no such thing. No final bill has yet been produced and decisions are still pending on the public option, a proposed surcharge on wealthy Americans, whether benefits should be taxed, and other contentious issues."

Which really misses the central point. Republicans, and the wide range of independents that Kornacki understandably fails to account for, see the general direction that the majority party seeks to go in; and, frightened of the implications, understand the danger of simply waiting patiently for the final plan to emerge (at which point it may be too late to do anything about it).

Democrats, on the other hand, are generally sanguine about the direction the legislation is going-single payer, government run, extra tax burden, reduced choices, all have little negative resonance in the precincts of the left. All that concerns the activists from the port side, is the importance of universal coverage-everything else is just meaningless postscript.

Which leaves the gurus like Kornacki bereft of serious analysis-left to gnash their terrible teeth in an effort to caricature the protesters' arguments and motives: "Just consider how easy it’s been for the right to foment the rage we’ve been seeing at town hall meetings. Mike Huckabee, the once and probably future G.O.P. presidential candidate, offered a pitch-perfect tutorial for how it’s done in the opening monologue of his Fox News show last weekend...It was a maddeningly dishonest presentation. None of the plans under consideration in Congress would impose a Canadian-style, single-payer health care system in this country. The comparison was absolutely false and baseless."

Well, there's a lot of false and baseless stuff that's organically upsetting the folks without the help of those, "outside agitators." In particular, there's some clear evidence that the oversight boards and the monopsony purchasing regime will lead to something that resembles what our good neighbors to the north have for health care-not to mention Obama's previous statements in support of an "incremental" transformation of the current system into a single payer, government controlled model.

And, given the Obama-led whopping expansion of government, Kornacki shouldn't be so quick to label criticisms of the health care take over as, "absolutely false and baseless." In the process, both Louis and Kornacki patronize and demean the folks who are angrily challenging their elected officials. They've seen the stimulus, thank you, and they've had quite enough of the expansionists.

So, we welcome Kornacki's prediction that these protests will inspire a counter revolution: "On Wednesday, an email to Obama supporters—signed by the president—was sent asking them to attend a town hall meeting this month. A few weeks ago, this appeal would have been met mainly with indifference. Now it may be a different story." Let's hope so. It's about time that the battle was enjoined. May the best narrative win.