People-watching politics

For pure theater, the growing protests over President Obama’s health care initiative makes for a compelling people-watching moment or two. The scene today shifted to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in a state that knows how to make life miserable for visiting Democrats.


Pixelating of the image above (you can click for a larger version) makes some of the material difficult to read, so let’s take a closer look:

We’ve got the woman with the bad grammar:


The always lame attempt to turn a name into an acronym:


Irony, anyone? The flag-waving American with the foreign-automaker (BMW) hat, holding a sign about fascism. BMW, the company whose largest shareholder family allegedly had a Nazi past:


And the tourist-town T-shirt shop’s best-seller:


Across the street we have an entirely different looking crowd. This is the side that says the other side isn’t “grassroots” because they’re coordinated in their demonstrations. Note the coordination.


  • MR

    My favorite part of those pictures is that the socialism/Hitler sign has two American flags attached.

    Flags make a Hitler comparison more relevant and less offensive?

  • Phil

    And it’s kind of ridiculous that Hitler be associated with supporting socialism since he was fascist and beat up, locked up, etc. communists and socialists*.

    Considering how many of our grandparents/parents/greatgrandparents fought in WWII against Hitler flags do not make it any more palatable – quite the contrary.

  • bsimon

    “Flags make a Hitler comparison more relevant and less offensive?”

    Only when accompanied by a cross and the word ‘socialism’ underneath the picture of a fascist.

  • Tyler

    I’m trying to remember all the Hitler references I saw in protests in the last 8 years (despite Bush’s rampant unpopularity)…coming up short. Anyone? Bueller?

  • MR

    There were definitely Hitler comparisons during the Bush years. But again–that doesn’t make them less offensive or more relevant.

    At least I have an idea what the more “organized” side is asking for: universal health care and (for some people) a public option.

  • Bob Collins

    I recall when a volunteer for the Coleen Rowley campaign created a Col. Klink parody with Kling’s face replaces Werner Klemperer. That caused a huge ruckus in the 2nd District race as people insisted the campaign was calling Kline a Nazi.

  • Tyler

    Bob, did your BMW tinyurl link get hijacked? The linked page doesn’t seem quite relevant – or perhaps I’m missing the point.

  • Bob Collins

    Try it now, Tyler.

  • Bob Moffitt

    I heard an interview with a leader of the opposition in New Hampshire who told NPR how he was concerned about images/soundbites like these making his group look like a bunch of extremist nutjobs, so he planned a very controlled event with assigned spokespersons.

    As I heard the coverage the next day, and see some of the photos, clearly he failed. I think that photojournalist and editors are naturally drawn to the most extreme (and offensive) signs and statements, not because of “liberl bias.” but just because of the sheer political and socialogocal theater of these images.

    Even Fox News commented on the calm, polite audience inside in NH and the not-so-calm protesters outside.

  • Kim V

    Can I call “Godwin’s law” on that lady with the Hitler sign (and anyone else who uses Hitler or Nazis when trying to prove a point)?

  • matt

    Tea Parties in Minnesota on Friday. I’ll be at Walz’s Mankato office. Guess I’ll leave my “bowl of stupid” t-shirt at home (…I’m always a day late on these things).

  • Jennifer

    Here are my two biggest points of confusion with all the chanting and yelling protests on this issue.

    First, from what I’ve heard from a number of sources, most Americans are in favor or some sort of reform. The majority of us would acknowledge that there are definitely problems with our current system. So what is it that the opposing side is proposing? Constant references to Hitler and Nazi Germany may be sensational and get people’s attention, but they don’t provide any alternatives. (And can we please just reach a point in our society where Hitler isn’t our go to reference for anyone/anything we dislike??)

    It’s fine to be opposed to something, but providing solutions is better. At least with the opposing side, it is clear what they would like to see in the bill.

    Second, am I the only one completely astounded by the irony of defending and utilizing one’s first amendment rights by drowning out anyone with opposing views trying to assert theirs?

    Speaking of irony, nice catch on the BMW hat.

  • JohnnyZoom

    My question: How many of those supporters/protestors on either side have actually read the full text of the bills/plans they are so rabid about?