Let's start with Mike Sola, who angrily confronted Rep. Dingell (D-MI) at a townhall last week with his son who has cerebral palsy. It's hard to see Sola in the same light as your garden variety teabag whackjob since clearly raising and caring for a severely handicapped child makes these issues very real for him. But here you've got this surreal situation in which the Rushs and the Palins, the Gingrichs and the Armeys, all the professional liars and freak show ringleaders have gotten a lot of people to actually believe that the Obama health plan will mandate euthanizing the old, the handicapped and the infirm. So Sola's on TV completely going out of his head demanding to be heard before Obama and his minions "put [him and his son] down." And in his appearance on Fox this morning he's got this story about how Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer sent "thugs" (presumably ones tasked to deal with the health care debate) to his home late at night to threaten his family for speaking out at the town hall.
I mean, let's all collectively throw a little cold water on our faces and just realize that this is some really crazy stuff.
The health care debate is now being driven by a perverse nonsense feedback loop in which the Palin/Limbaugh crowd says all sorts of completely insane lies, gets a lot of ... how shall we put it, impressionable people totally jacked up over a bunch of complete nonsense, and then Fox brings one of them, Mike Sola, on the air to basically lose his mind on camera.
And then Mike becomes evidence of popular fear, terror, outrage at the president's plan. Which becomes more grist.
I don't think the Democrats have lost the message war because I see no evidence that even close to a majority of Americans believe completely preposterous things like this. But journalists have no capacity to deal with this stuff. In any sane civic discourse Sarah Palin's comments about 'death panels' would have permanently written her out of any public debate about anything. But even though very few people actually believe this stuff, the entire debate gets knocked off the rails by this sort of freak show which allows the organized interests who want to prevent reform to gain the upper hand.
Not that I'm necessarily pessimistic. I see some signs that this latest outburst of freakery may be starting to backfire on the GOP. We'll have to watch and see.