I wrote earlier this week that in the unfolding drama of the health care townhall teabaggery, conservatives have developed their series of shout-downs and freak-outs into something resembling a right-wing performance art. Still, though, with all the antics and ferocity, let’s be honest, it’s hard to deny there’s a certain Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show quality to the whole scene.
As our team has reported on at some length already, there appears to be a reasonably well-orchestrated national effort to mobilize teabaggers to go and shutdown these townhall events with raucous demonstrations and generally making it impossible for the members of Congress to talk. But that’s not the most interesting part of watching this drama unfold.
The truth is that there’s actually quite a lot of authenticity packed into these events, often a bit more, sometimes quite a bit more than the partisans helping put this stuff together end up being comfortable with. Maybe the best example was back last year when the dying McCain-Palin campaign was toying with that proto-birther ‘Obama’s a scary Arab terrorist’ craziness and then had those awkward moments like the time McCain had to snatch the mic away from that woman who started commiserating with him about how Obama was an Arab.
That’s the thing about where the GOP is right now. I don’t question that they’ve gotten some traction on a range of issues over the last month or so. But they’re still relying on some pretty far-out, alienated and often just generally whacked out folks to puts the gusts of wind into their sails.
So, even though we’re only a few days into the run, I thought it made sense to review some of the greatest moments so far.
High on the list has to be the group of Tea Baggers who hanged an effigy of Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) from a noose in front of his district office a few weeks ago. Then there was the case yesterday where a few folks at a tea bag protest outside a townhall meeting in Hartford called on Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to commit suicide as a way to cure his recently diagnosed prostate cancer. And even though it lacked any clear appeal to the murder of public officials or even a good suicide joke, I’m still pretty fond of this case on Tuesday where the head of the local Tea Party group up in Rome, New York just started yelling ‘liar’ over and over at a clearly befuddled and caught off guard Steny Hoyer.
It’s hard not to get the sense that the longer this goes on the more cases you’re going to have where some of these good folks let slip what they really think of Barack Obama.
Could be an uncomfortable August for a lot of people.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.