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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Astroturf Closeup

(Astroturf, 2011)

Some things bubble up slowly, like hearing a snipet of conversation here or there over the course of a couple of weeks. Naturally. Some might refer to that as collective consciousness. The people here call it 'Grassroots' Interests.

Some go wide all at the same time and you hear it everywhere you turn. Some political messages come out like Talking Points.

When they appear in several right wing mouths with exactly the same phraseology on the same day, those are Talking Points. Generally known within the beltway, and on the talky shows, as 'Astroturf' politics. Sort of like when you hear a politician or pundit say, "The people of the United States feel..." or "The people of the United States want... You always want to pay attention to the next few words out. If that phrase hits the airwaves like it's a CD set to repeat, you've got your Astroturf. It's meant to sound like just plain ol' folks are thinkin' it up, but without a doubt that kind of Rovian speak has been generated by think tanks, public relations firms, or in corporate executive suites. Although Astroturfing has long been associated with politicians trying to appear to be aware of grassroots sentiment, it is actually revisionism at its core.

And some things are even more subversive. Welcome to the Smiley-West 'Poverty Bus Tour.'
According to The Root, "These two have done much worse than what Halperin has done because they set the tone for it, opened the door to it, and must take much of the blame for creating a climate that would make a white, professional journalist feel comfortable verbally and vulgarly attacking the first black president of the United States," Joyner wrote.
Recently, some very prominent Republicans had begun criticizing President Obama for supposedly ignoring Black America's plight. Like the decks stacked against your average American of color are somehow beyond the POTUS's radar. What's that about, you might ask? Simple.

Check out these articles that have noticed the latest coming down the pike, seemingly innocuous and spread out comments over the last couple months, in preparation for the 2012 primaries.

Michele Bachman - Newt Gingrich "Blame Obama For Black Joblessness

Fox News
Newt Gingrich Puts Obama On Defensive Over Failure To Help Black Americans

Talking Points Memo
Newt Gingrich ~ "Obama Is So Bad, Black People Will Vote Republican."

Wonkette finally came out and called this spade a spade.
Newt Gingrich Plan For Success ~ Win The Black Vote Back From Obama

And Steve Harvey called this one out as well. Have a listen (3 audio clips)

Most Obama supporters feel ;-) that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are now taking their personal hatred of President Obama on the road with this so-called ‘poverty tour’ and that this is nothing but undermining President Obama for 2012. If you need confirmation, you need only look at the recent Washington Post article titled- Poverty tour’ stirs debate about whether Obama policies have helped African Americans

"More than a year ago Smiley and West went rogue on Obama, fomenting bitter, public fights with allies of the president that have resulted in name-calling and shouting matches."

The minute President Obama says anything about a program “specifically” geared for African Americans, he would be crucified because everyone (especially in the media) would then say that he is being biased towards African Americans. He can’t win that fight. But the real grassroots have come out and have been speaking loud and clear. Smiley and West were greeted in Detroit by angry protesters, many wearing Obama t-shirts and hats, who wanted to let them know that their Obama bashing tour was not welcome in their town. However, mainstream media outlets like CNN are reporting on this as if this tour has major support from the Black community.

The message they've chosen as their opening shot for 2012, if you are Black, don't vote for Obama. Nasty. This kind of Astroturfing in social media and on in the main stream news is based on manipulation rather than constructive and authentic echoes of the public trust. And while American Crossroads and Alec are still in business, me thinks we need our own pushback think tank. Like now!

Lisa Lindo
The Policy Geek

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