by digby

I hadn't heard about this but it figures: the right wing strategy during the recess is to attend events in the district and drown out health care advocates with shouting and protests. Steve Benen reports:

One leaked strategy memo said, "Look for these opportunities before [a member of Congress] even takes questions."

Who needs civility and intelligent discourse when we have confused mobs of far-right activists organized by corporate lobbyists?

The House has been in recess for only a few days, but we're already seeing the results of the right-wing efforts.

This past weekend, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) was the latest victim of the right's strategy, where protesters followed him and chanted "just say no" to health care.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation and stands to be among the most to gain from Obama's health care plan. "[N]early 6 million Texans, including the one in six U.S. uninsured children who live there, could get health insurance for the first time if the plan is enacted." [...]

An angry crowd also exploded at Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The Philadelphia Daily News reports, "They wore bumper stickers on their foreheads. They carried signs. They shouted insults at notable American figures -- and each other. Loudly."

This is predictable. After all, they are following the 1994 playbook and they did the same thing then. This is from the PBS timeline of the Clinton health care debate:

July 22, 1994 - Trying to win back the kind of political support that brought them to the White House, the administration plans a bus trek across America to generate their own grassroots message to Congress for reform. A kickoff rally in Portland, Oregon, is marred by anti-Clinton protesters. When the first buses reach the highway they find a broken-down bus wreathed in red tape symbolizing government bureaucracy and hitched to a tow truck labeled, "This is Clinton Health Care."

The anti-bus trek protests are the crowning success of the No Name Coalition and especially of the conservative political interest group Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). By the time the ill-fated bus caravan takes to the highways, CSE operatives, working closely -- and secretly -- with Newt Gingrich's Capitol Hill office and with Republican senators, have mapped out plans to derail the Reform Riders wherever they go.

July 23, 1994 - Following several days of anti-Hillary rhetoric on local talk shows, Hillary Clinton -- at a bus rally in Seattle -- is confronted by hundreds of angry men shouting that the Clintons are going to destroy their way of life, ban guns, extend abortion rights, protect gays, and socialize medicine. When she finishes speaking and tries to leave the rally, her limousine is surrounded by protesters. Each of the four caravan routes becomes an expedition into enemy territory -- with better-armed, better-prepared, better-mobilized anti-Clinton protesters at each stop along the way. Local reform groups and caravan organizers are forced to cancel scheduled stops because of implicit threats of violence.

I'm sure the Democrats all remember this and are prepared for it this time. Right?

If you haven't read the entire PBS timeline on how health care reform was derailed in 1994 recently, do yourself a favor and read it. The legislative side has an eerily familiar feel to it, especially the part where the Democrats in the Senate preen egomaniacally while selling out reform to the insurance industry and the Republicans.

You'll recall that the Republicans' consciously pumped Whitewater in the press and to create a distraction for the public and fuel mass protest among their own base. It's a sign of their impotence that the best they could come up with this time was a fringy clown show like the birthers, but it's certainly done its job among the 58% of Republicans who now aren't sure if Obama is actually an illegal alien. This stuff is evergreen.