Astroturf, Obama style


At the recent New Hampshire town hall meeting, President Obama took a softball question from a young girl. It seemed innocent enough. Almost natural.

The Boston Global article Question by a Malden girl becomes the target of conservative critics contains this: “The critics point to campaign donations and other partisan links of the girl’s mother, Kathleen Manning Hall, who was an early Obama supporter and donated money to his campaign. But a White House spokesman insisted that audience members are selected randomly.”

The girl’s mother denies that her daughter was a plant by the White House.

Astroturf? (Meaning fake political activity, organized from somewhere above, passed off as the genuine action and concern of real, genuine people.)

The Left takes great glee in portraying actions by those on the political right and by libertarians as astroturf. Doing this allows them to ignore the substance of the criticisms. Instead, they can focus on the personal characteristics of the critics and sidestep the issues.


5 responses to “Astroturf, Obama style”

  1. Thomas Witt

    Oh Bob – the “left’s” complaint about astroturfing isn’t about Libertarians or far-right activists. It’s about the corporate and lobbyist funding of supposed “grassroots” actions. The Koch/AFP/insurance industry groups that are pumping millions of dollars into opposing the Obama administration at every turn are not “grassroots,” in any sense of the word. It’s nothing more than outright buying the political process while using genuinely angry people as fronts and shields. If the “right” was honest about this, they would have pulled out all the stops earlier this year for full disclosure of funding going into c4 and similar organizations. Instead, the AFP lobbyists came down on the Legislature in full force to block all attempts at disclosure. Smells like cowardice to me…

  2. There are no secrets about what companies and industry organizations are helping organize and fund these protests, just like there are no secrets about what liberal activist groups and unions are promoting the administration’s position. The argument of “astroturfing” is a cover-up, a distraction to divert attention away from the fundamental assumption that private companies advocating for a political position are somehow immoral because they are considering their own profitability and the health of their industry, unlike those on the side of the administration, who we are supposed to see as “noble” because they aren’t making money off the issue (which is not true either, but that is a different argument). This instance of argument ad lazarum is simply a double-standard with no basis in logic.

  3. Paul Benjamin

    Yea they should have checked her ID and the bumber stickers on her car. Bush knew how to do a town hall meeting.

    All the question should be fawning not just one!

  4. Thomas Witt

    “Z Lawrence,”

    It’s nice to see you argue from a point of ideology instead of facts. The fact is: AFP lobbyists were *instrumental* in killing an attempt in the Kansas Legislature this year to require comprehensive campaign finance reporting reform. It was quite a show in the House, especially the part where Pat Colloton was hauled into the Speaker’s office for an hour, finally coming back to the floor of the chamber to withdraw her amendment.

    This isn’t about argument-from-poverty, this is about the wealthiest Americans using people as human shields to protect their private fortunes. That’s all fine and good and legal; I’m not even questioning the supposed “morality” of it. But I will certainly call it what it is: Sleazy and cowardly.

  5. kimpot54

    So the word Astroturf is now being used to describe political protests supposedly orchestrated from above and carried out by individual Americans to scuttle anything relating to Obama-guided health care reform. (I didn’t call it Obamacare, because he didn’t even present a bill to the Congress, instead allowing both branches to write their own bills, resulting in the mess Obama’s dealing with today.) I guess we can add that new definition to the dictionary along with the new definition for Socialism. You know, the one about it being the new “N” word? When Bill and Hillary attempted to nationalize health care, the same criticisms were made by the American people as are being made now. Socialism is socialism. It has nothing to do with skin color. And I thought Astroturf was what Bill had in the back of his pickup.

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