Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stewart On Mob Strategy: "All We're Doing Is Enraging People With Misleading Information"

Jon Stewart took on the view expressed on Fox–where else?–that “Everybody that I’ve seen in these town hall meetings has been respectful.” After showing examples of right wing mobs in action, he switched to Matt Kibbe, president of the mob-inciting FreedomWorks, complaining about the very term “mobs.” Stewart explained, “I mean, all we’re doing is enraging people with misleading information and then having them show up at meetings with the intent of shouting down the speakers and physically intimidating them. If that’s what you call a mob…”

Stewart then focused on Fox’s Hannity and O’Reilly, who, while they would never criticize today’s angry right, complained in the past about the angry “far left.” He closes with Sarah Palin’s insane warnings about Obama’s “death panel” in which “bureaucrats will decide whether babies and seniors are worthy of health care.” Not only is this “death panel” a figment of Palin’s feverish imagination, but those who believe that private insurance bureaucrats don’t decide whether consumers are worthy of health care should see my post on Stephen Hemsley and United HealthGroup. Without further ado, here's Jon Stewart:

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Hunter W said...

Where the anti-war protesters also "mobs"? I'd love to see you cover some of their actions.

Jeff Tone said...

Hunter: Were the anti-war protestors "mobs"? Not that I know of. I'm against anyone, left or right, shouting down and intimidating others. RIght now, it is the right wingers at town hall meetings whose actions indicate that they don't believe in democracy.

Hunter W said...

By that logic anti-war protesters aren't interested in national defense.

The fact that they are there DOES indicate that they believe in democracy. Things like this won't happen in China or Venezuela because democracy doesn't exist. They believe their voices should be heard and they don't feel like they are. And with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid saying we need to fast-track this bill can you blame them? Over the last 10 years we have seen both sides of Congress fail to read bills time and time again and fast track things without reading them or fully understanding them. How many Democrats wish there would have been this kind of response to the Patriot Act? There is tens of billions of dollars in waste in the stimulus bills -- how great would it have been if we forced our elected leaders to actually read and understand the bills before their passage?

Deficit spending is something like 40% of the budget -- we're spending WAYYYYYY too much money. With health care spending poised to more than double in the next 10 years we cannot afford to get this wrong.

If don't agree with their tactics then talk about that. Yes -- there are tons of videos of people shouting and most people would agree that this isn't the most effective means of getting your point across. But there are tons of town hall meetings that are kept civil. You don't see those because those videos are boring and aren't newsworthy.

Did you see the video where a woman was respectfully and calmly reading her question that showed concern for the current government plan and the Democrat congresswoman took a cell phone call in the middle of it? By the logic you continue to use on your blog this video shows that Democrats aren't interested in health care debate and they don't want to hear from the constituents. Yes - they are willing to compromise in the health care plan only as long as the conservatives are the only ones compromising.

I can tell from your blog postings that you are about as left as they come but you also show intelligence in your responses. Blanket statements like this really undermine any point you're trying to make.

Jeff Tone said...

Hunter: Woody Allen said that 80% of success is showing up. The same doesn’t necessarily apply to democracy. The fact that a group shows up doesn’t mean that it believes in democratic values.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wanted to fast track the bill because the majority of Republicans aim toward obstructionism and issue absurd accusations such as the “death panel” nonsense. I did have a problems with the Patriot Act, but I can’t imagine screaming at a Republican official at a town hall meeting about it. I’d rather challenge with reason.

Are there really “tons” of civil town hall meetings on healthcare with Democratic officials? Even with a group like FreedomWorks advocating disruption?

If a Democratic–not “Democrat”–representative wasn’t listening to someone’s concerns, then I would ask her to put down her cell phone and treat the individual with respect. Other than that one example, I’m not sure how the video shows that Democrats aren’t interested in debate. I also have a completely different opinion on which party is not interested in compromise. First the Democrats dropped single payer. If some like the Blue Dogs hedge on the public option and opt for “cooperatives,” then the entire effort may well be for naught. Cooperatives will never present enough of a challenge to keep the health insurance companies honest.

Regarding the “blanket statement,” I simply did not see that the anti-Iraq war protestors showed the mob mentality we’re current seeing on the right. If I saw it I’d condemn it, but I neither saw it in demonstrations I took part in, nor did I hear or read about it–and I don’t just read liberal commentators.