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Tea party revolts -- grass-roots opposition to healthcare, or AstroTurf?

It's getting rough out there for Democrats backing President Obama's healthcare reform.

In Philadelphia, new Democrat Arlen Specter brought Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to a town hall meeting to help sell the plan. They were booed and jeered.

In Raleigh, North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller said he would not be hosting any healthcare town hall meetings because of a phoned death threat. The congressman's communications director, LuAnn Canipe, reported the caller said, "Miller could lose his life over this."

In New York, Rep. Tim Bishop had to be escorted to his car by police after protesters cornered him. And in Maryland, protesters hung Rep. Frank Kratovil in effigy outside his office.

Democrats charge that these are no "Tea Party" revolts like those waged against British rule by colonialists dumping tea in the Boston Harbor. Instead, says White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, these are organized protests by groups like Conservatives for Patients' Rights, which are drilling their supporters on how to disrupt congressional meetings. "I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying."

Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee put out an ad accusing "the right-wing extremist Republican base" of organizing mobs to destroy Obama.

Now, Michael Steele is denying that the Republican National Committee played any role in the protests. "We're not inciting anyone to go out and disrupt anything," he said.  "We're not organizing the town halls," he added. "There's no upside for the Republican Party" in the protests.

-- Johanna Neuman

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I don't trust Obama or the Congress to act in my interest on health-care reform. I never trust the government whenever they say "Comprehensive" anything. We all new we could not trust them about comprehensive immigration reform—we would get all of the “Amnesty” and none of the “Border Enforcement”. The same sort of thing would happen with this comprehensive health-care reform—we would get all of the pain and none of the gain. The folks that are out there protesting this health-care reform debacle are just like the real folks that were giving the congress hell over immigration reform. It is real people, really engaged, and really angry at their government.

this is not about two parties not agreeing its about real american freedom.

Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Rev. Wright , Bill Ayers
American heroes? I think not!!!!
We care too much about our country to let it fall into the wrong hands!!!

Where are all the news paper reporters? Why are they not looking for the facts in this. Instead of just repeating the Democrats and Republican opinions, find the truth. Are these being staged? Is there an organized effort to bring disruption to the town hall meetings? Reports like this are meaningless. Remeber when news papers actualy did the work of finding the truth? How are we to know?


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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