Thursday, August 11, 2011

Whose Fault are Mitt's Hecklers?

Whose Fault are Mitt's Hecklers?

Mitt Romney got goaded into saying "corporations are people" today, a line which could come in handy for Democrats if he manages to get nominated because it's his turn.

But that wasn't the headline on the Kathie Obradovich piece. Instead, the focus was:
Romney’s question-and-answer session after the speech was interrupted by crowd members who shouted questions about raising taxes on the wealthy for Social Security. The heckling was more sustained and organized than I’ve seen at the soapbox before.
I'm not naming the group, though Obradovich does, because I don't want to give them the attention. But you know them: they're incapable of issuing a press release that doesn't include the word "DEMAND." Hey Hey, Ho Ho, somethingsomething's got to go. And When De We Want It? NOW!

Obradovich describes them as "known for confrontational politics." You know, stuff like challenging the lieutenant governor at a party convention for being, quoting here, "too corporate" rather than offering a challenge to a governor who could have legitemately been vulnerable to one.

Hey, didn't I see you down at headquarters making get out the vote calls? Didn't think so. Because you don't get on TV - as I'm writing they just played the clip on "Hardball" - for making get out the vote calls.

My parents, 70something retired teachers, are my barometer of pure independent voters. And they live in one of the two Wisconsin state senate districts that flipped from red to blue this week. Two nuggets of dad's wisdom are relevant here.

Nugget 1: "I used to believe that trickle down stuff. But now I see they're not letting any of it trickle down." On the substance of the issues, hecklers, you're winning the independents. Republican extremism is turning people like my parents into solid blue votes.

But your rhetorical style is putting them off. Nugget 2: "I don't like extremists on either side about anything." Chanting "Wall Street Greed" at Mitt Romney may feel good, and it's definitely accurate. But the 2, 4, 6, 8, Organize And Smash The State rhetorical flair -- and remember, I voted for Ralph Nader once -- is counterproductive. And Team Mitt was quick with a reply. From the inbox:
Campaigns are defined by moments.

Today, Mitt Romney had one of those defining moments while on the "Soapbox" at the Iowa State Fair when he was confronted by liberal hecklers.

Mitt said, "I am not going to raise taxes. And if you want someone who's going to raise taxes, you can vote for Barack Obama."
Thanks, guys. Glad you could help.

I suggest taking the cues from this winter's Battle of Madison. There was enough protesting and building occupation to warm the heart of anyone who favors... let's see if I can channel my twentysomething self... direct action over electoralism. But the voices carrying the messages were Regular Joes and Regular Janes, using the language of work and family rather than faux-revolutionary sloganeering. The peer to peer communication changed more minds and almost flipped the Wisconsin Senate, one door at a time.

Then again, the media needs to look in the mirror. If the hecklers hadn't gotten up in Mitt's face, would their viewpoint have gotten a mention?

UPDATE: tons of media attention. Lesson learned: to get coverage, act like a jerk. I have no patience for it on either side.

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