As noted earlier, House Republicans have lately had to contend with a taste of the town hall rage and bitterness that roiled throughout the summer of 2009 when House Democrats were slowly pushing health care reform through the legislature. Over at the Plum Line, Greg Sargent has been wrestling over whether or not these current uprisings will manage to reach the heights of health care reform antipathy, and whether its even preferable for the left to try to outdo the Tea Party-types in that regard.
One broad conclusion that Sargent isn't shy about drawing is "the right tends to be far better than the left at organizing and manufacturing sustained expressions of public outrage." Today he goes into detail, noting that these "sustained expressions" came after a steady dose of accelerant from two sources, neither of which are likely to re-emerge in any constituent contretemps over Paul Ryan's plans for Medicare:
Right now, you're only seeing coverage of these angry confrontations with House GOPers on liberal blogs and Web sites. By contrast, in 2009, the Tea Partyers had a hugely important big media ally on their side. Fox aggressively promoted the earliest demonstrations -- some of which were organized by right wing groups -- airing nonstop footage of even the most paltry Tea Party town hall showings and tirelessly working to rebrand what originated as a series of disparate expressions of constituent anger as a national movement. That ultimately pushed other major news outlets into treating the town halls as a national story, a national phenomenon, which gave it more and more momentum.
Sargent then names the second cause of last summer's town hall spectacles:
It should not be forgotten that Democrats, too, were heavily complicit in enabling and hyping the Tea Party movement. The Dem strategy of elevating the craziest Tea Partyers in order to paint the GOP as scary and extreme only succeeded in reinforcing a sense of widespread public discontent with Obama and Dem policies.
Without a similar heaping helping of high-volume allied media assistance and a soupcon of oppositional fear-framing, the chances of these House GOP protests reaching an equal level of viral hype are plainly diminished.