Both Illinipundit and Glock21 have accused the Obama administration of astroturfing and that they are therefore no better than the right wing mobs currently shutting down town hall meetings across the country. These are excellent examples of the logical fallacy of false equivalence. Basically it goes like this: the right wing is inciting their base to be as disruptive as possible, the Obama administration is encouraging people to contact their local officials: see, they're both astroturfing!
Well, no. This is a great example of the false equivalence. The best definition I can find online is from the link above, as equating "an act by one party as being equally egregious to that of another without taking into account the underlying differences which may make the comparison patently invalid."
I don't like the idea of the Obama administration handing out talking points; I think talking points are the lazy way out and are for people who don't really have an argument. But if you look at the evil, evil document that Illinipundit posted, all it's really encouraging you to do is "have a quick conversation with the local staff, tell your personal story, or even just drop off a customized flyer and say that reform matters to you." And it offers to provide you with "the address, phone number, and open hours for the office, information about how the health care crisis affects your state for you to drop off (with the option of adding your personal story), and a step-by-step guide for your visit."
Really, that doesn't sound like much to me. I've never visited my Congressional office and I can definetly see how that might be a bit intimidating. I don't know the protocol or procedures involved. (Did you know letters to your Congressman are properly addressed to "The Honorable So-and-so?")
When you really get down to it, the Obama campaign is nothing more than asking people to politely contact their own, local representatives and make their wishes known.
The opposition is not.
- In Tampa, Florida, a town hall meeting had to be cut short because of shouting in the meeting, after the mob of 1,000 people was banging on the windows, and after a violent fistfight broke out in the entryway.
- The SEIU is getting death threats by phone and -- believe it or not -- Twitter.
- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) has said "the time for polite town halls is 'over.'"
I'm all for people talking to their reps and voicing their opinions, even if I disagree with them. But these tactics show that the right-wing is not attempting to participate in the health care discussion, they're attempting to disrupt it.