One of my favorite political movies came out in 2005. It's called Thank You for Smoking. Aaron Eckhart plays the main public face of the smoking lobby, and his character, although a bit of a caricature, provides a stunning example of media manipulation. This movie provides foundation knowledge for how any interest group effectively molds opinion through the media. It is not a conspiracy, but the tactics take full advantage of many people's inability to think things through. This film provides the most concise explanation for why many people continue to vote and act against their best interest.
The quintessential statement of tactics comes from this clip. Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) explains his job to his son while on a business trip. It is worth your time to watch the whole clip, but if you're in a hurry, skip to the 5:15-7:20 point in the clip.
To restate the point--winning the argument is not the goal. All they are trying to do is show the opponent wrong. If their opponent is wrong, then by inference they are "right" even when nothing they have said is correct in any sense and certainly does nothing to invalidate the essential argument. But as Nick Naylor points out--I'm not after you (pointing to his son), I'm after them--the nameless faceless crowd. That's what the town hall noise machine is about. It has no interest in being right, just saying things to take those who want reason on the table off their game.
Because of this, it is definitely time to move on and stop trying to convince those not interested in reason (Most of the Republican Party these days). Moreover, its time to stop letting them insert themselves in the news cycle. Their backers just want to cloud debate, confuse enough of the public to derail the efforts. Their job is easier; we need to stop helping them. Health Care and anything else on Obama's agenda can pass 51-49 in the Senate and 218-217 in the House. That's it. There is no middle on this, and any Dem in the 49 or the 217 makes the list for elimination in 2010 or 2012.