As town hall protests against health care reform intensify, liberal pundits react to the trend of "Astroturfing" -- engineered protests designed to appear grassroots. Are they part of a disturbing trend or a simple reality of political discourse? Are they to be ignored by reform supporters or are they to be co-opted?
Leftward proponent of health care reform Rachel Maddow described the protests as "town hall events being taken over by belligerent anti-health care crowds looking to shut down the events, to stop the talking about health care reform." She argued in the video above that "D.C. lobbying groups with ties to the health care industry" are "turning out the mobs, telling them where to go and giving them their scripts." In a follow-up segment, Maddow connected the town hall protests to "the mob that the GOP sent to stop that count in Miami" during the 2000 presidential election recount.
Josh Marshall thinks that the protests indicate something deeper, calling them "a sort of civic vigilanteism" and "distressingly telling examples of the authoritarian mentality so often found in right-wing politics."