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Reason Foundation

Obama's Manufactured Indignation

Shikha Dalmia
August 5, 2009, 10:17pm

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs this week derided constituents who had the temerity to confront their elected leaders about ObamaCare. He dismissed their worries that the president's "reform" plan would end up socializing 15% of the U.S. economy as "manufactured anger."

"I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying," he mocked.

Meanwhile, left-wing radicals masquerading as researchers at The Policy Center, an outfit whose mission in its own words is to "develop a universal access health care delivery and single-payor financing system in the United States," accused the protesters of nothing less than "subverting the democratic free speech process."

"What do you call it when people with political axes to grind purposely disrupt public meetings for partisan political reasons," the "think-tank" cuttingly asks on its website? "You call that the Birth of Mobocracy, n - rule by the mob."

So imagine my surprise when I got a personal e-mail from none other than President Barack Obama this afternoon urging me to sign up for an event by the Organization of America to petition my member of Congress in support of his health care "reform" plan. Protesters of ObamaCare, the president notified me, "are filling the airwaves and the internet with outrageous falsehoods to scare people into opposing change." So my job was to "get out there, fight lies with truth, and set the record straight." He also asked me to donate to this noble organization - no doubt so that it can keep doing god's work. (The whole thing pasted below.)

So let's see: When the president's opponents use social networking sites and e-mail to mobilize their grassroots to defeat ObamaCare, we are supposed to take a "jaundiced eye" of the "manufactured, astro-turf nature" of their mob-like protests. But when the president himself uses social networking sites and e-mail to mobilize his grass-roots supporters in favor of ObamaCare, we are supposed to view this as what? Promoting civic participation? Or manufacturing indignation?

This is not "politics as usual." It is "politics as usual" wrapped in a patina of holy sanctimony. Way to go, Mr. President.

Letter from President Obama

Shikha --

This is the moment our movement was built for.

For one month, the fight for health insurance reform leaves the backrooms of Washington, D.C., and returns to communities across America. Throughout August, members of Congress are back home, where the hands they shake and the voices they hear will not belong to lobbyists, but to people like you.

Home is where we're strongest. We didn't win last year's election together at a committee hearing in D.C. We won it on the doorsteps and the phone lines, at the softball games and the town meetings, and in every part of this great country where people gather to talk about what matters most. And if you're willing to step up once again, that's exactly where we're going to win this historic campaign for the guaranteed, affordable health insurance that every American deserves.

There are those who profit from the status quo, or see this debate as a political game, and they will stop at nothing to block reform. They are filling the airwaves and the internet with outrageous falsehoods to scare people into opposing change. And some people, not surprisingly, are getting pretty nervous. So we've got to get out there, fight lies with truth, and set the record straight.

That's why Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you're counting on them to act.

But these canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support. So here's what I need from you:

Can you sign up to attend an event near you?

In politics, there's a rule that says when you ask people to get involved, always tell them it'll be easy. Well, let's be honest here: Passing comprehensive health insurance reform will not be easy. Every President since Harry Truman has talked about it, and the most powerful and experienced lobbyists in Washington stand in the way.

But every day we don't act, Americans watch their premiums rise three times faster than wages, small businesses and families are pushed towards bankruptcy, and 14,000 people lose their coverage entirely. The cost of inaction is simply too much for the people of this nation to bear.

So yes, fixing this crisis will not be easy. Our opponents will attack us every day for daring to try. It will require time, and hard work, and there will be days when we don't know if we have anything more to give. But there comes a moment when we all have to choose between doing what's easy, and doing what's right.

This is one of those times. And moments like this are what this movement was built for. So, are you ready?

Please RSVP for an event in your community to build support for health insurance reform:

http://my.barackobama.com/AugustAttend

Let's seize this moment and win this historic victory for our economy, our health and our families.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama


Shikha Dalmia is Senior Analyst


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