Imagine it's four years ago and an aide to President Bush posted
a blog on the Whitehouse.gov website that bemoaned Internet criticism of the
Iraq war, then continued: "These rumors often travel just below the surface
via chain emails or through casual conversations.
"Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White
House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on
the web about anti-war protests that seem fishy, send it to
Substitute the words "health insurance reform" for "anti-war
protests," and you get the exact wording of a blog posted by Macon Phillips,
the White House director of new media, on Tuesday.
"I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your
predecessor asked Americans to forward e-mails critical of his politics to
the White House," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote in a letter to President
Obama. "I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning
such a program."
No lie. Now I don't think Obamaland was working on an "enemies
list" as some conservatives have charged. But I do want to note how
deftly the left has abandoned its old rallying cry, "Dissent is patriotic."
Democratic leaders have taken to dissing health care dissenters
who show up at town-hall meetings conducted by members of Congress visiting
their districts and not just for the boorish behavior of the loudmouths.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, dismissed
protesters as "Astroturf" artificial grassroots support. On MSNBC's
"Hardball," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., exhorted the media to investigate
town-hall protesters, as "this is just all organized."
And: "You in the media have to take a look at what's going on
here. This is all planned. It's to hurt our president and it's to change the
When Boxer grilled Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about
what personal price the childless Rice paid for the Iraq War, Boxer later
boasted that she was "speaking truth to power." But when angry voters try to
do the same with elected officials, whether they're heckling them or just
showing up, Boxer wants the media to investigate.
It's laughable: Democrats discrediting protests because
oooooo they're organized. Last year, weren't these same folk guffawing
about Jesus being a community organizer?
I want to be clear: I want nothing to do with any protesters who
carry swastikas, hang our leaders in effigy or show up to disrupt when a
duly elected official speaks. Over the years, I've seen too many signs
depicting the president as a Nazi and too many extremists who think they are
so right that they don't have to respect the free-speech rights of others.
The problem is: When anti-Bush protesters behaved badly, when
Code Pinkers shouted and anti-war protesters brandished signs with
swastikas, they did not rate nearly as much press scrutiny as the ObamaCare
protesters. There seems to be the impression in my profession that
comparisons of Bush with Hitler were to be expected, but not of Obama with
Hitler. That's below the belt.
Asked about the blog asking readers to flag "protests that seem
fishy," White House spokesman Adam Abrams responded that the intent was to
combat "intentionally misleading" material on the president's health care
agenda. "We are not compiling lists or sources of information," he added.
"We may post fact checks from time to time to be sure Americans know the
truth about health insurance reform."
Be it noted the "disinformation" blog titled "Facts Are
Stubborn Things" was prompted by the posting of a video clip in which
Obama, running for the U.S. Senate in 2003, said, "I happen to be a
proponent of a single-payer universal health care program." Now Obama
supports allowing people to keep their private plans. The White House cried
foul at the very hint that Obama wants to "eliminate" anyone's current
health care plan.
Politifact.com looked at the clip in July and summed up Obama's
position on single-payer health care thus: "So what we see here is a
candidate who in 2003 was trying to appeal to a liberal electorate and today
has moderated his comments to appeal to a broader national audience. That's
a Half Flip in our view."
Facts are stubborn things. But Democratic leaders are not
stubborn. If the Bush White House had asked Americans to "flag" critics, you
know that Pelosi and Boxer would have demanded that the Bushies spike that
blog. But now, with their man in the White House, they're up with the
organization. As long as it's their organization.