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But give me a break. They just weren't doing what these teabag crowds are doing at a lot of these events, which is basically appearing en masse and doing chants and yelling to shut the meetings down. I don't think I've yet heard a case where one of these teabag crews actually pressed a member of Congress on a specific policy position. I have no doubt it happened. But it doesn't seem to be a big part of the plan.
Yesterday I noticed a tweet from, I think, conservative net activist Pat Ruffini, in which he said something along the lines of 'Isn't it weird how when Dems organize to turn out at townhalls they're engaged grassroots activists and when Republicans do it they're a crazed mob?'
Well, I think the answer is, 'Yeah Pat, it is sort of a pattern, isn't it? What's up with that?'
Politics, as they say, ain't bean bag. And more than that, real political engagement is not and should not be a debating exercise. There's organizing and rough-and-tumble. That's not an unfortunate concession. That's how people with strong beliefs peacefully hash out their differences in a democratic society. But, c'mon, showing up as a mob and shouting people down is showing up as a mob and shouting people down.
Don't run away from it. And reporters making a false equivalence do themselves no favors.
Late Update: I should note that further down in today's edition of First Read there's this graf which does more clearly get at some of the distinction between 2005 and today ...
Fired up, ready to go: A person who was involved in those anti-Social Security reform protests back in '05 tells First Read that they discouraged civil disobedience, frowned on arrests, and coached their people to stay on message. Indeed, these anti-Obama, anti-Dem protests do pose a potential risk for the GOP, especially as we see images of devil horns on a relatively popular congressman from liberal Austin, TX, Nazi "SS" references, and even protestors now joking about Chris Dodd's cancer. At the same time, however, these conservative protests at Dem town halls are suggesting an enthusiasm from Republicans that we haven't seen in years. To borrow a phrase from Obama, they're fired up and ready to go. By comparison, we're no longer seeing that from Democrats and liberals. Will that begin to change?