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Grant Bosse

Grant Bosse: New Hampshire politics in the age of professional outrage

Much like the amplifiers used by Spinal Tap, political discourse in New Hampshire this year has been turned up to 11. And just as an over-modulated sound system will distort your music, it’s been pretty hard to hear any reasonably discussion of politics over the din of partisans being outraged at each other.

Anger is a useful emotion when appropriate. It’s also far too easy to manipulate by political hacks looking for short-term advantage. Anger makes for great copy, snappy headlines, and effective fund-raising emails. Last week, it seemed like the only tool that either party knew how to use.

Let’s start with the Outrage of the Week that was actually outrageous. Auburn Republican state Rep. Stella Tremblay previously questioned whether the federal government might have been involved in the Boston Marathon bombings. Sadly, such conspiracy theories now inevitably follow any act of violence savage enough to get national attention. Weak-minded fools reinforce each others’ delusions after falling down the online rabbit hole.

Then last week, Tremblay told crackpot radio host Pete Santilli’s that footage of bombing victim Jeff Bauman showed that he wasn’t in pain after losing both his legs, which somehow supported the false flag theory. Blaming the federal government for a terrorist attack is ridiculous. Alleging that a New Hampshire man who not only lost both legs in the bombing but also helped the police identify the suspects is part of the cover-up was too much.

Pretty much everyone has called on Trembley to resign. She won’t, and there’s little that can be done until Auburn voters kick her out next November. House Republicans may expel her from their caucus. I suppose Speaker Terie Norelli could take away her off the House Children and Family Law Committee. But she hasn’t broken any laws and seems immune to common sense. Outrage seems like a sensible reaction.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats tried to stir up some outrage last week by claiming that Senate Republicans refused to stand up to the federal internet sales tax legislation.

Manchester Democrat Donna Soucy wanted to introduce a nonbinding resolution thanking the state’s congressional delegation for opposing the internet sales tax. Not only was Soucy’s resolution past the Senate’s deadlines, but it also violated a recent rule preventing such do-nothing resolutions from being drafted. The Senate voted against suspending its own

rules for Soucy’s vanity project.

Clearly, the new rule hasn’t stopped every piece of time-wasting fluff from making it to the Senate floor. Just last week they voted to name the white potato as New Hampshire’s Official State Vegetable. But it has cut down on the glorified press releases gumming up the works at the State House.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party jumped all over the Senate’s sensible rejection of a meaningless resolution, declaring that the GOP was somehow soft on the internet sales tax. Soucy wasted the Senate’s time so that her party could generate a controversy out of nothing. I’m all for political theater. I once ran for Congress in a nonexistent district. But this bit of feigned outrage was laughably transparent.

GOP is outraged too!

The New Hampshire Republican Party got into the outrage act last week too, accusing Organizing for Action, a group supporting President Obama, of politicizing the marathon bombings because a sign at a recent rally said “More shot in one day, than marathoned.” The party called on Democratic office holders to denounce such offensive tactics. The third-party denunciation is the preferred tactic of the professionally offended when the people you want to attack weren’t the people saying something stupid.

Meanwhile, the main target of the professionally offended left was U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Think Progress, Granite State Progress and the state Democratic Party tried desperately all week to turn a series of Ayotte town hall meetings into a referendum on guns.

A small cadre of out-of-state gun-control advocates joined an even smaller group of New Hampshire liberals to protest Ayotte’s three town halls. These professional protesters are known as Astroturf, as opposed to grassroots political volunteers. I call them Hacktivists. They’re the muckrakers of the YouTube generation.


The hactivists were outnumbered by Granite Staters who gave Ayotte standing ovations at all three events. And that drove the hactivists over the edge. They pretended to be outraged.

Though the town hall format is a way for elected officials to interact with their constituents, the gun-control groups brought up relatives of victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Erica Lafferty’s mother died that day in Newtown, Conn. Ayotte took her question in Warren and provided a reasoned, respectful answer on why she opposed the Manchin-Toomey bill and instead supported an alternative that focused on mental health and enforcement of existing gun laws.

Afterward, Lafferty tried to manufacture national outrage, claiming that Ayotte has tried “to justify my mother’s murder and the murder of five other educators and the murders of 6- and 7-year-olds.” Lafferty’s statement is dishonest and manipulative. She is using her grief as a political tool, and it should not go unchallenged for fear of giving offense.

The rest behaved even worse, shouting over other people’s questions, lying about Ayotte’s answers, and falsely claiming to have been assaulted by Senate staff.

The hactivists wanted to get people angry. Their immature behavior and dishonest claims succeeded.

(Grant Bosse is editor of New Hampshire Watchdog, an independent news site dedicated to New Hampshire public policy.)

Legacy Comments15

People get so worked up about politics today. It makes for great drama but is it really good for the country overall? The two party system is partly to blame. If we had 5-6 parties, each party would have to make deals with others to pass laws. And why would any good, self-respecting person get into politics knowing that their entire life will be dissected and analyzed and every decision going back to young adulthood questioned? Who would want to put himself through that? We're not going to get America's best and brightest this way.

So if two parties cannot agree, 5 or 6 can? I believe my mother had a saying for that. Too many spoons in the soup.

We have a third party already. Both the dems and the repubs seem to have no use for it.

You dont have to get into politics for that to happen. Just asking the president a question will get you put thru the ringer. Just ask Joe the plumber.

Poor Joe the Plumber, cashed in and even ran for something without a bit of experience except having a big mouth. Perfect fit for the Republicans.

GOOD ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes...poor Joe. Asks Obama a question, Obama comes off looking bad, so immediately Democrats, specifically Helen Jones-Kelley performed an illegal search on state computers, resulting in new laws and them disgrace. Thats your democrat party.

Opps forgot your apostrophe in don't, Gone. You will have to write another comment to yourself.

Ayotte has her questions cherry picked for her because she doesn't want to answer tough questions. For a lawyer she is not very quick on the uptake. Her answer to Ms. Lafferty's question was gibberish. Makes me wonder who really did her work when she was Attorney General.

Actually, it is common practice for town hall venue's to hand out questions to be posed to the speaker. The reason for that is so the speaker does not get the same question over and over, and covers a wider array of questions in a short period of time. Lafferty lied on her questionaire. She said she had a question about education. So she pretty much went there with the idea that she was going to corner Ayotte. The Dems do it too. But as usual it is okay when they accuse the right of doing things that the left actually does also. You see, the left is allowed to do what they want. They have different rules. When will Lafferty show up at a Dem town hall with a speaker that voted the same as Ayotte?

She would have to take a plane to do so. Ayottte was the only NE senator to vote against the gun bill. Also the teapartiers were the original out of state trouble makers to show up at Dem. townhalls. What is good for the goose etc, etc, .

False - TEA PARTIERS are true grass root all American real patriotic citizens....the democrat ilk that came from elsewhere are lowlife...."Hacktivists" it - Permission to use repeatedly?

And another example of outrage would be . . . giving Grant Bosse a column in the Monitor!

Good column Grant! you get your second "Woof!" award from Duke and I. When we all work together to solve problems we do a great job. When we go to either extreme we fail. Have a great weekend !

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