Hardly evidence of stagecraft

HARDLY EVIDENCE OF STAGECRAFT…. For conservative bloggers, this, apparently, is the outrageous story of the day.

A girl from Malden asked President Obama a question at Tuesday’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire about the signs outside “saying mean things” about his health care proposal.

Eleven-year-old Julia Hall asked: “How do kids know what is true, and why do people want a new system that can — that help more of us?”

The president responded by talking a bit about some of the things he’s also seen on those signs. Julia Hall later told the Boston Globe that she got a chance to shake Obama’s hand and get a picture after the event. “It was like a once in a lifetime experience,” she said. The same article noted that Hall’s mother “was shocked when her daughter said she wanted to ask a question.”

So, what’s the scandal? Apparently, the girl’s mom also supported the Obama campaign during the election, working as a coordinator of Massachusetts Women for Obama last year.

This is evidence of … something nefarious? I’m having a little trouble understanding the basis of the complaint, but perusing some of the far-right blogs, the argument seems to go like this: Kathleen Manning Hall supported the Obama campaign. Julia Hall is Kathleen Manning Hall’s daughter. The younger Hall was called on at a town-hall meeting on health care. Therefore, at least according to Michelle Malkin, the question was “planted,” the president relies on “human props,” and the event itself was “Kabuki.” As Malkin explained, “As we always like to point out: There are no coincidences in Obama world.”

The things one learns from reading far-right blogs.

I see that conservatives are really worked up about this, but as controversies go, this is awfully thin. We’ve seen plenty examples of manufactured White House stagecraft and, as desperate as the far-right is to make a fuss, this isn’t it.

Indeed, I’m a little surprised conservative bloggers would even consider this topic worthy of outrage. When Bush was president, public town-hall meetings were carefully pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted events. Public audiences were screened to make sure attendees agreed with the party line, and if White House officials didn’t like a ticket-holder’s bumper sticker or lapel pin, he/she was denied entry.

Ticket distribution was limited to local Republican Parties, and once in a while, Americans who wanted to participate in the town-hall meetings were required to sign “loyalty oaths.” In some instances, a White House advance team would literally rehearse events in advance to make sure attendees said the right things to the president.

In contrast, President Obama deliberately sought out attendees yesterday who were skeptical of health care reform. “Kabuki”? Please.

Far-right bloggers pick the strangest things to get excited about.