Lawmakers battled Sunday over whether demonstrations against health care reform legislation at town hall meetings across the country are real or contrived.The piece goes on to quote Dick Durban, who is interviewed by CNN's John King above.
One prominent Democrat continued to assert that scenes in which protesters are interrupting and shouting at reform proponents are "clearly being orchestrated," while the top Senate Republican said it's "absurd" for Democrats to criticize members of the public for being organized.
The fresh round of debate over the heated summertime sessions comes after a meeting in Des Moines with Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin was interrupted several times by critics in the audience. He drew outrage Saturday when he told the crowd there is a "nationally coordinated effort" to disrupt the town halls.
"How dare you claim that I'm part of a conspiracy," one man yelled, claiming he sent himself to the meeting.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky., told "FOX News Sunday" that it's not clear who's organized and who's not but that Democrats' efforts to "demonize" the protesters reflect weak spots in the substance of their plan.
"I think attacking citizens in our country for expressing their opinions about an issue of this magnitude may indicate some weakness in their position on the merits," McConnell said. "And I also think it's particularly absurd for the Democrats, who have over an $8 million e-mail list over at the DNC called Organize America, to be criticizing citizens for being organized."
He said concerns over how the plan will be paid for are probably triggering a lot of the passion and tempers at the meetings, and predicted the tension will not slacken -- with dozens of other town hall meetings scheduled throughout the month of August.
See also, Ed Morrissey, "Video: C-SPAN Caller Blasts Media; Update: New Astroturfing Signs for Obamabots" (via Memeorandum).
Plus, the Astute Bloggers, "WHO ARE THE ASTRO-TURFED THUGS AND WHO ARE THE REAL PEOPLE PETITIONING THEIR GOVERNMENT? THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POST SINCE OBAMA WAS SWORN IN ..."