Lloyd Doggett’s town hall on health care in Austin last week was one of the first such events that got national attention because of the outrageously thuggish tactics employed by the Teabagger mob. At the time, the media coverage suggested this was a spontaneous protest.

We now know that isn’t true.

A Gazette reporter was there to witness an unruly hollering mob of people disrupt the meeting and personally insult Congressman Doggett. Conservative cable news and talk radio stations around the country hailed the event as a spontaneous outbreak of opposition to proposed healthcare reform. But it was later discovered that the Travis County Republican Party Chair had led an organizing effort to disrupt the event…

These people were Republican ringers, period. Keep in mind that Travis County went for Obama. This is hardly a right-wing stronghold.

There’s a lot of good reporting in this article — but this exchange is really important. 

Congressman Doggett stressed that opponents of healthcare reform are also the opponents of Social Security and Medicare, which he said have worked "very successfully."

He added: "Near the beginning of the session…because they were holding up all these Tenth Amendment signs, I was saying, ‘Well, if that’s your attitude about health care, then I suppose you don’t really support Social Security and Medicare,’" Doggett said. "And they said, ‘Yes, we don’t. We don’t think they’re good.‘"

At which point, Doggett said, it becomes more than just a healthcare issue.

"I just think this fanatical insistence on repealing Social Security and Medicare is not just about halting the healthcare bill that’s up there, but it’s about rolling back about 75 years of progress."

This is a big part of the narrative that’s been lost in the media’s attempt to frame these town halls as a debate about health care reform. These crazies are not protesting health care reform. There’s not even a bill yet and I’d wager if you ask 10 of these yahoos what they don’t like about the bills in the House and Senate, 9 won’t be able to articulate any details they find objectionable.

They’re just throwing a temper tantrum over "SOCIALISM!" — which in their wingnut brains applies to everything from TARP to the stimulus bill, and yes — to Social Security and Medicare.

They’re fringe, anti-government nihilists and they’re not interested in the government reforming health care, or anything else. The media, however, continue to frame these events as a referendum on health care reform, which they are not. One side wants to reform health care, the other wants to lynch the federal government.

Not the same thing.