GIBBS NOTICES THE ‘BROOKS BROTHERS BRIGADE’ AT WORK…. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked this morning whether the administration is concerned about the right-wing harassment strategy at public events this month. Gibbs seemed largely unfazed, but more important, drew the appropriate parallel.
[Gibbs] suggested that the opposition is being organized by a small group seeking to create “manufactured anger.”
“I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying,” Mr. Gibbs said.
In recent days, administration officials and Democratic members of Congress have been shouted down by angry protesters at town halls in Pennsylvania and Texas, an uproar that could grow when lawmakers return to their districts for the August recess.
Mr. Gibbs compared the protesters with the “Brooks Brothers Brigade” that he said appeared in Florida after the 2000 presidential election.
“I seem to see some commonality in who pops up at some of these things,” he said, without elaborating. “You can see quite a bit of similarity between who shows up where.”
The reference to the “Brooks Brothers Brigade” was a helpful one. Josh Marshall posted an item last night, republishing an email from a Republican friend who explained, “The real precedent is the ‘Brooks Brothers riot’ during the 2000 recount. The point is to create disorder, but get the media to cast blame on the underlying issue and NOT the protesters. That’s what happened during Florida: The ‘blame’ was on the ‘chaos’ created by the ‘unfair’ counting methods brought on by Al Gore’s call for ‘selective’ counting. No blame was focused on the young GOP activists upsetting the process.”
How all of this gets reported by news outlets — locally and nationally — is likely to make all the difference. If the lede reads, “Rep. Jones faced intense opposition to President Obam’s reform agenda today, and had to flee from his own constituents,” the public is likely to be swayed in one direction. If it reads, “Enraged right-wing bullies tried to shut down another public discussion of health care reform today,” public perceptions will be far different.
Gibbs, then, was subtly suggesting that the blame goes to the responsible parties. It’s a message that bears repeating.