Swiftboating the Town Halls

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This is part of a major report on the Republican attack on healthcare reform from The Progress Report. Read the full report with hyperlinks at http://pr.thinkprogress.org.


With federal lawmakers returning home this week to begin their month-long recess, the far right is welcoming them with large, angry throngs at "town halls gone wild." "Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops [and] congressmen fearful for their safety" have marked the ugly scenes that have become the rule in recent days, as normally respectful meetings between representatives and their constituents have been inundated with right-wing protesters focused on killing health care reform. Over the weekend, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) became one of the more widely publicized victims, when a mob of protesters chanting "just say no" to health care followed him out of an event. These encounters are being orchestrated by the same lobbyist-run groups — Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks — that brought together the tax day tea parties in April. While trying to give the appearance of a "grassroots" uprising, the demonstrations are cover for a corporate-lobbyist engineered harassment strategy that encourages participants to "yell," "stand up and shout," and "rattle" elected officials in favor of reforming health care. Their goal — recently outlined by an influential lobbyist as "delay" then "kill" — is apparent: Having successfully delayed a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are seizing on town halls to ambush lawmakers in an attempt to fool them and the greater public into thinking there is wide opposition to health care reform. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a "hard line against the Tea-Party organized disruptions," labeling them a "Brooks Brothers Brigade," a reference to GOP staffers staging protests during the 2000 Florida recount.

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