This month is the worst for national politicians. In the absence of Congress being in session, the national media scurry to find stories about relevant issues. In doing so, the loudest voices at times are the easiest to turn into news reports.
Thus it should come as no surprise that the media are spending considerable time looking at the town hall meetings and other forums in which public concerns about health care reform, taxes, the national debt or similar issues are being expressed. They are in many ways the "perfect" August story -- unhappy citizens, squirming politicians and the notion of democracy in action.
Yet underneath these protests is a reality -- too many are not spontaneous. Political groups on the left and right have galvanized their forces, and they are showing up at these events. And its doubtful that they are showing up primarily to express their political opinion. Instead too many are going simply to play to the media's need for stories.
You can expect this media theme of "public outcry" to continue. But as you hear it, I urge you to ask how much of it is really outcry and how much of it is attempted outreach.