There are a few telling details about yesterday’s rally against the House’s health care reform bill that got lost in the coverage. The rally was not planned by the GOP leadership, which was focusing on a 12-hour online health care “town hall.” Rather, the rally was initiated by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the loose-tongued rising star of the GOP conference. And while they won’t say so on the record, some Republicans felt that Bachmann’s rally was sprung on them.
This isn’t a surprising turn of events. In the run-up to the Sept. 12 march on Washington, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) were surprise guests at a Sept. 10 rally outside the Capitol. That event was actually identical to this one–protesters fanned out after the rally to talk to their members of Congress. But the crowd at that rally was smaller and more controlled, with most protesters holding FreedomWorks signs that had been passed out. The crowd at this rally was far less on-message. By the end of the day, the images that made it out of the rally were of protesters waving signs comparing health care reform to the Holocaust, and the video that made it out of the protest was heavy on Bachmann — one of the people Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) seemed to be referring to in a cryptic October comment about how to deal with a “problem member” who keeps making news.