That was ugly! TPM leans heavily on the GOP for the sounds that emanate from various audiences. There was the booing of the soldier and...
... On Sept. 7, the biggest applause line of the night went to the then-234 executions that had occurred during Rick Perry’s time as governor. At the CNN/Tea Party Express debate a few days later, members of the audience voiced their support for letting an uninsured man die.Settling in to write this post, I said out loud: "The Republicans need to get their audiences under control." And Meade said:
"No, they don't. They're the party of free speech. Anyone can come in and say what they want to say. It's just like your blog. You're not responsible for what people say in the comments."There's no real way to control the audience, other than to strictly limit who gets in, which will look repressive and cowardly. And who knows who is booing or applauding in this way that's harmful to the Republican cause? It could just as well be somebody who hates the GOP, trying to generate bad press and distract attention from what the candidates actually say.
The booing in that clip above comes from one very loud guy. Maybe he could be identified. I'd like to know whether he's on the Republican side or he's a dirty trickster. Am I being repressive to suggest that audience members at the next debate ought to pay attention in the future and look when somebody boos or applauds in this way that is useful to Republican opponents?
I don't think so. I think it's similar to going to a protest and photographing people with offensive signs. Let's say someone who hates the Tea Party is thinking of going to a Tea Party rally and holding up a blatantly racist sign in the hope of stoking the belief that the Tea Party is a bunch of racists. If this prankster realizes he will be photographed (or confronted by the people he's hoping to hurt), he probably won't do it.
A separate matter is whether the candidates should overlook the inappropriate sounds in the room. (This assumes they hear the sounds and can immediately correctly interpret whether it's an approval or disapproval sound and what it refers to.) The candidates have to be smart about what will be used against them and, if they are sharp, they could find opportunities to leverage the moment for their own benefit with a good spontaneous remark. But I don't think that every jerk in the audience, like that guy last night, ought to have the power to command attention in place of whatever response the candidate had brewing in his head as he listened to the question. There lies chaos.
ADDED: I have listened to the video several times, and I stand by my perception that only one person audibly yells "boo." I hear a loud "boo," then a difficult to decipher noise — which could be an ugh response to the booer — and then a little more of a boo, which sounds like the original guy.