I was just pointed to a story in Rolling Stone from last week confirming virtually everything that progressives have been saying about the fake health care town hall protests over the summer.
Mainly, according to documents that Tim Dickinson uncovered, several right-wing groups worked closely with each other for weeks organizing the supposedly grassroots protests with the help of health care industry lobbyists, corporate funding, and direct help from GOP congressional leadership.
According to Dickinson, “The effort to mobilize the angriest fringe of the Republican base was guided by a conservative dream team that included the same GOP henchmen who Swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, smeared John McCain in 2000, wrote the script for Republican obstructionism on global warming, and harpooned the health care reform effort led by Hillary Clinton in 1993.”
This obviously shouldn’t come as any surprise. That is the true Republican activist base, not grassroots voters who only engage in protests a couple of times in their life, but lobbyists and career party operatives only interested in serving the corporations willing to stuff the most money into their campaign coffers.
These operatives have been deeply influencing and shaping the Republican party for the better part of two decades. And when it comes to manufacturing public opposition that benefits their corporate masters, they’ve gotten very, very good at it.
I don’t remember off hand which Republican Senator was dumb enough to admit publicly that the GOP was blocking health care reform to take down President Obama, rather than having any sincere objections to health care reform itself – its hard to remember when a statement that ought to be the talk of the town for a week straight gets ignored by the supposedly liberal media — but again, he was just telling us what we already knew.
Jim DeMint – probably the GOP Senator I’m thinking of – “worked hand-in-glove with the organizers of the town brawls” along with John Boehner and leader-wannabe Eric Cantor, according to Dickinson.
It’s a pretty good, read but for me, this is just confirmation of activity that has become rather obvious. I’ve been saying for weeks that the town hall mobs were being organized by the same corporate creeps who keep holding the fake tea party protests. While Republicans were deeply insulted by the suggestion that their awesome version of the netroots were actually just a bunch of dumb puppets for health care lobbyists, those very same lobbyists were the ones proudly taking credit for organizing the events they were attending.
FreedomWorks took direct credit for organizing several events and heavily promoted them on their website, through email, and even raised funds for future lobbying on behalf of health insurance companies desperately fighting against health care reform.
Americans for Prosperity was even listed as a “sponsor” on one large protest page – I think it was for Austin, or somewhere in Texas.
It was a big one.
Dickinson writes a little about the puppet masters behind AFP and FreedomWorks in his story. These are the people that conservatives “activists” were taking orders from this summer:
Americans for Prosperity, which has taken the lead in the current fight against reform, is a front group for oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, co-owners of the world’s largest private oil and gas conglomerate. [..]
To head Americans for Prosperity, the brothers tapped Tim Phillips, one of the Republican Party’s most notorious dirty tricksters. Phillips served as a strategic consultant to George W. Bush in 2000 and reputedly took part in the smear campaign in South Carolina that portrayed John McCain’s adopted daughter as his mulatto love child. [..]
The second group behind the town-hall mobs is FreedomWorks, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. An ideological crusader against the safety net, Armey denounces Medicare as a form of “tyranny” and backed George Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security. At a 2004 event promoting the benefits of private accounts for “regular folks,” Bush appeared onstage with a “single mom” from Iowa — who, upon closer examination, turned out to be the Iowa director of FreedomWorks.
The story reveals that the Tea Party Patriots group was being run by FreedomWorks, according to evidence that Dickinson gathered from their internal email list, going so far as to micromanage what logo the group would be using.
Writing of a fourth group, “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, has direct connections to the health care industry. Its founder, Rick Scott, is the former CEO of Columbia/HCA, the world’s largest hospital conglomerate.”
This is a “other shoe dropping” moment. Most progressives and a lot of regular Democrats were not fooled by these fake protests. Astroturf campaigns by corporate lobbyists exploiting extremely angry yet hapless conservatives is nothing new, they’ve been doing it for quite a while. If conservatives want someone to be angry at, they have only themselves and their corporate masters to blame.
It is those people most responsible for their problems. Lobbyists for Wall Street and the health industry own and control Congress, not Democrats, and certainly not Republicans based on political policy.
They share blame for being bought and paid for, but it makes little sense to protest that, while allowing the corporate lobbyists and powerful corporations that pay them to organize you into doing what they want, so that they get what they want, and you get nothing.