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Will going negative on healthcare doom Republicans in 2010? Catering to tea party activists could backfire

House Republicans incite anti-health care protestors with signs from balcony of US Capitol saying Kill the Bill
Now it gets ugly. Not that it wasn't before.

During 14 months of partisan smearing, the main Republican strategy was to demonize President Obama and his healthcare reform. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused Obama of wanting to convene death panels to kill Granny. Tea party activists disrupted with such a din of anger that North Carolina Democrat Brad Miller reported a death threat.

The vitriol continued over the weekend. Bands of angry conservatives parked themselves outside the Capitol. When Georgia Democrat John Lewis walked to work Saturday, they hurled racial epithets. This is John Lewis, a veteran of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil-rights marches, beaten by sheriffs so savagely that his head wounds are still visible. This upset House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose skillful shepherding of the  bill through the House puts her in company with Tip O'Neill and LBJ. So the next day, she walked to the Capitol arm in arm with Lewis and other Democrats. Little appeased, the conservative mob shouted, "You communists! You socialists! You hate America!"

Is this really the crowd that Republicans want to line up with? Apparently.

During Sunday's vote, Republican members of the House went to the balcony of the Speaker's Lounge -- generally only occupied by the smokers she has banished from the building -- to incite the crowd with signs that said, "Kill the bill."

Going negative rarely wins elections. Just ask Ronald Reagan, a Republican icon who won a landslide victory for president in 1984 with the sunny slogan, "It's Morning Again in America."

Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, who had anti-gay slurs hurled at him by protesters, warned that Republicans were whipping up hysteria."It is almost like the Salem witch trials,” he said.  “The health bill has become their witch."

Hysteria may whip up the base, and turnout -- which side gets their voters to the polls in greater numbers -- could be key in the midterm elections. But lining up with hysterics -- one Republican shouted "baby killer" at Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak during debate -- could make Republicans more than just the Party of No. It could make them the Party of Anarchy, the kind who shout 'Fire' in a crowded theater.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: House Republicans incite protesters angry about healthcare reform from the balcony of the U.S. Capitol. Credit: Getty Images

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Comments () | Archives (21)

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I've seen the video of the so-called racial slurs directed at Rep. Lewis and the funny thing never happened. Other than his word, (and what is the word of a politician truly worth?) there is, not only no evidence of this happening, but video evidence that it is a falsehood.

You are right. Just look at the recent electoral past. Going negative on the health care bill really hurt Scott Brown...

The results of this health care decision will be horrible.

The tenets put into place are a good start, but they could have been implemented anyway. It would have raised rates for current insured, but the rates will climb anyway.
The elephant in the room is 'Individual Mandate'. Sure everything polls well, everything except this lynchpin that pays seniors care with young healthy kids dollars.
Teapartiers may be looking 10 years down the road, and I hope I am around to see who is right. It will be nice if Mr. Obama is, but I have my doubts.

Typical liberal gibberish. I've already notified my representatives that if they don't fight this healthcare takeover tooth and nail they will lose my vote! I can't believe any sane person would believe in strong-arming this thing through against the wishes of the majority!

Does anyone wonder why the liberal states are all going belly up????

Democrats must learn how to market themselves to the voters. Republicans are for the corporations. Democrats are for the people. That message is as clear as mud to a significant percentage of voters and Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for that failure. Get that message across and all the tea in the world would not help Republicans.

Excuse me but, this bill will have a negative affects on too much of our economy for the repubs to just roll over and let it go. The demos doesn't worry about Obama's close ties with acorn, the crimimal and fraud voter group working for Obama's election, or the black panthers connection with some demos. There were many sneaky backroom deals, wining and dining, president jet flights with demos to get votes for this bill. I see no problem with the repubs and tea party complaints. This is too much additional spending at a time when unemployment is high and states are making cuts in our schools funding, etc, and raising taxes. Also, a 26 year old adult should pay for his or her own medical care.

Going negative will NOT hurt the republicans. The democrats have been going negative on the American people all year. Pelosi and others have called us terrorist, unamerican and stupid because we don't agree with obamacare.

Neither the promises of doom or salvation will come out of this bill. It is an important first step but the road to really solving the root causes of run away health insurance premiums is going to be long and messy.

you think you can make it all go away by painting the opponents of this bill as monsters.... well, everyone hates this bill except pundits, journalists and democrats.... sorry, redundant... democrats.

Okay. Let’s lay out practical, no nonsense things we can do right now that are within the law, but could have an impact and make us conservatives feel better in the process.

One idea that I am passionate about is that no one should knowingly help a progressive financially. Do not knowingly frequent progressive establishments or hire them to do any work for you. Find out what you can before making any major purchases. Punish progressives for being progressives. Make them dead to you.

UPDATE: LisaGinNZ gives us this site to make things easier to target progressives –

This includes progressive friendships. I have plenty, and in the past it has been live and let live. But they aren’t letting people just live. The policies they support are an assault on you. Sorry to say it, but it’s time to cut them out of your life until they see the light one day.

As an artist I am surrounded by nothing but progressive colleagues. Conservatives who own businesses, please, I URGE YOU NOT TO JUST PICK UP A PHONE AND CALL SOME SHMUCK AT RANDOM IN THE PHONE BOOK FOR YOUR ADVERTISING OR CREATIVE NEEDS. CHANCES ARE THEY ARE A PROGRESSIVE. SEEK OUT A CONSERVATIVE TO HIRE. REWARD PEOPLE THAT SHARE YOUR VALUES. (Contact iOTW for your creative needs, he says sheepishly. That’s what we do in our private lives.Pass it on.)

No, seriously. Damage progressives as much as possible in any way that is within the law.

Any other ideas? List them in the comments.

HT/ This was a stellar suggestion by SicSemperTyrannis to get this thread going. -from a site called

Sad commentary that GOP equates health care coverage as a plot against our country. When the sky doesn't fall, what will the GOP do to get voters on their side? Fear will never work but action will cause voters to tune out and turn out Republicans next election.

Posted by: About time

"...Republicans are for the corporations. Democrats are for the people..."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --

Are you really that gullible and naive? Republicans are for Republicans and Democrats are for Democrats, and the Tea Party will be holding all of their collective feet to the fire in these next mid-terms. We will restore representative, Constitutional government or die trying. It may take three to four election cycles but it will happen.

Vote the bums out!

Honestly, what sewer did most of you come out of? What brainless comments. Most of you need to have some of your energy drained off so you should hustle over to the Marine Corps recruiting station and start doing something constructive for the country. That goes for some of you female imbeciles, too. Just shooting off your mouths, knowing nothing, but wagging your mouths just the same. Years ago it was a communist under every bush, now it's socialism. It was stupid then and stupid now - but the same dumb heads fall for it, as though they know what it means.

It should doom them. They've shown themselves to be evil, mean-spirited, with no ideas. When's the last time you've seen one of them smile?

Hey steve What this man have gone thru in his life by the act of people like your self has been crimminal.And yet you call illegals from across the border crimminals. Remember What happen back then will never happen again. You'll got away with straight out Murder and mayhem Good desent people will not close our eyes.( Hey Steve Have a Great Day )

Steve, Sometimes certain phrases aren't recorded on a video (especially when a rabble of angry protesters is shouting around the camera). The racial epithet hurled at Congressman Lewis may not have been caught by a recording, but that is not evidence of its nonoccurrence.

Furthermore, Republican and Tea Party leaders publicly denounced the insults and acknowledged their occurrence. You choose to stand with the obscene individuals who insulted Congressmen Lewis, Frank, and Cleaver and denounce the Congressmen as liars. If you are convinced that racism is not a part of tea party rallies, search "tea party racism" on Google Image search and the results will provide you with ample evidence of the contrary.

When is someone going to state the obvious?! If McCain and Joe the Plumber had been elected we would all have the world's best healthcare paid for with all the money from the drilling for oil in Alaska/Russia. Liars, babykillers, basketball playing Senators, and Iran would have all been outlawed by now. Same for that no good hockey player fella who put one over on the Palins.
Instead we have this. What happened?!

The government will screw up health care like they do everything else

The Tea Baggers are a bunch of Libertarian government haters and now they have revealed themselves as racist pigs too. Thank you President OBAMA for the health care bill. Now maybe my recently unemployed friends will still be able to have health care coverage while they look for work. I didn't have a job with health care coverage until I got a union job. I know both sides of this story. I would rather see my tax money go to help people in this country than a single dime go to foreign counties in the middle east, and especially to companies like Halliburton, or Blackwater, or USArmour.

Tea Baggers need their own sovereign state, somewhere close to the borders of Glennbeckistan and Megalomania. They can call it "TEXAS"...


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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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