Bloggers battle over town hall behavior

August 7, 2009 7:19:48 PM PDT
An off-the-cuff remark by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is spinning its way through the blogosphere. Conservatives are calling her deranged, and now the Anti-Defamation League is jumping in.

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Earlier this week, after a news conference on health care, a reporter asked Pelosi what she thought of the health care town halls that were turning into shouting matches. Pelosi said she thought the opposition was being organized and supported by a relatively few health care opponents -- she called it an AstroTurf movement rather than grass roots.

"I think they're AstroTurf, you be the judge, carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care," Pelosi said.

Two days later, Conservative bloggers called Pelosi's claim a crock, saying they could not find any pictures on the Internet to substantiate her claim. That same day, Rush Limbaugh said the speaker was coming unraveled.

"And this is what I mean by unraveling, she's running around now claiming that we're Nazis," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh then accused the Obama administration of being more Nazi like than conservatives.

One day later, the pictures conservative bloggers could not find began appearing on liberal websites; Pelosi's press office has assembled a collection.

Friday, the Anti-Defamation League felt compelled to issue a statement.

"It's just beyond the pale and unnecessary and wrong to employ Nazi imagery to make one's point," Anti-Defamation League spokesperson Nancy Appel said.

Some right-wingers are claiming these pictures were faked. Others are posting pictures of Nazi references used to tar former President Bush.

Pelosi says before she made her comment on Tuesday she had seen a picture of a protestor carrying a sign with a swastika at a health care town hall chaired by Sen. Edward Markey. She says the protestors are comparing President Obama to Hitler and the Nazis and that was what she was talking about.

At Friday's White House briefing Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said shouting down speakers at town hall meeting does not help anyone understand the issue.

"Anybody that has a strong opinion should come to a town hall meeting, but also respect that others may want to also take part of in the town hall meeting or just listen to the debate," Gibbs said.

It is pretty clear there are people on both ends of the political spectrum willing to demonize their opponent. The Anti-Defamation League wanted to remind people, in any debate, the first one to bring up a comparison to Hitler is the loser.

LINK: Rush Limbaugh - Who's similar to Nazis
LINK: Pelosi's Swastika Claim Is A Crock
LINK: The Anti-Defamation League condemns Rush Limbaugh
LINK: Anti-Defamation League

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