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The President's already-solid approval ratings have started to climb. The increase in the President's poll numbers can be traced back to when conservative protesters stepped over the line at town meetings; the public, apparently, doesn't like people who quash civilized discussion by rudely screaming ad nauseam. But the media has a "dramatic" story line that they must stick to at all costs, so they aren't reporting the rise in the President's poll numbers, and are instead citing two-week old polls to keep their story line going.  

The loud protests at Congressional town hall meetings are made for the media. It doesn't matter if the protests are astroturfed, or not; no "serious journalist" can resist showing, or writing about, chaotic right-wing protests. Thus the actions of a small, frustrated, and angry crowd dominate the debate the media says this country is having.

The lead in today's AP story about the health care reform debate read:

"His approval ratings slipping, President Barack Obama is retooling his message on health care overhaul, aiming to win over Americans who already have insurance."

A Wall Street Journal Columnist declared that the White House's response to the smears the right-wing, with a large assist from the media, is spreading proves that those smears are true:

"These commentaries, packed with allusions to the secret police, the East German Stasi and Orwell, were mostly furious. Others quite simply hilarious. Ms. Douglass, who now has, in her public appearances, the air of a person consigned to service in a holy order, was not amused.

Neither has she seemed to entertain any second thoughts about the tenor of a message enlisting the public in a program reeking of a White House effort to set Americans against one another—the good Americans protecting the president’s health-care program from the bad Americans fighting it and undermining truth and goodness."

Also today, CQ columnist declared that the President's poll numbers prove that he's lost control of the message, while citing a two-week old poll:

"This rhetorical bind has contributed to Obama’s recent decline in public approval. A Quinnipiac University poll of 2,409 registered voters from July 27 to Aug. 3 found that 52 percent disapprove of the way the president is handling health care, a 10 percentage point increase from early July. The survey found that 46 percent of respondents trust Obama to handle health care, compared with 37 percent support on the issue for congressional Republicans."

Of course, the only thing that all these articles prove is that the President is losing the "all-important" beltway media popular opinion contest. A story you won't find among the Articles of Conventional Wisdom filed by the beltway press today, is a story about how the President's job approval ratings has climbed since the town hall protests started; further, according to aggregate Gallup data, the President's job approval rating is below 50% in just two states--Alaska and Wyoming.

If the press put down the quail eggs and caviar of their cocktail parties and went to a McDonald's for dinner, they'd quickly find out why the public is reacting negatively to conservative hysteria over the health care reform plan. The public's unease with the tenor of the health care reform debate can be found in statements from attendees of the health care town hall meetings. One attendee of a Maryland town hall with Senator Ben Cardin told the Baltimore Sun:

"I guess we're going to rally and scream at each other. It's ridiculous, but you can't just have one side control the whole discussion."

Two attendees of a town hall meeting with Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) told ABC News that the protesters were rude and embarrassed their community:

Two elderly women said they were embarrassed by their neighbors.

"They were rude!  Oh, they were behaving terribly," one said, calling it a "disgrace to our community."  

Said another of the anger, which sounded very much to her like what she hears on Fox News and conservative talk radio, "If it's not manufactured, they're brainwashed."

The reason Americans are reacting against the town hall protests is that they probably know someone who is uninsured. Or they may know a cancer patient who was kicked off insurance rolls by corporate bureaucrats who were chasing after a bonus. In short, the personal experiences of millions of Americans have convinced the overwhelming majority of citizens that our health care system needs to be reformed.

While the media hews to its pre-canned story line, Republicans are beginning to realize that there is a backlash to the outlandish behavior of town hall protesters. It's why three prominent Republican Governors chose not to defend Sarah Palin's infamous "death panel" comment. And it's why Palin herself backed off her aggressive tactics--something she has never done before--the day after she made that comment.

Originally posted to The Bagof Health and Politics on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:57 AM PDT.

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