If you want a good measure of how completely the White House and Democrat leadership in Congress have lost their political minds, look at how they have become cheerleaders for the Occupy Wall Street mob and its copycats.
From the president to former House speaker Nancy Pelosi to lesser party spokespeople, leading Democrats have lined up to praise the passion, sincerity, and pure hearts of the occupiers of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan.
It is not hard to see why they have felt comfortable voicing approval.
The protestors are singing from the Democrats’ songs. Redistribute incomes; more government spending not less, except for the military; most of all, tax, regulate, decimate all those evil corporations: the words are rawer, but the agenda could have come right out of White House class-warfare talking points.
Then, too, politics is often driven not by who wins the debate but by who drives the agenda. For example, in years past, if the two sides in a race were fighting over education policy, the Democrat (whose party long enjoyed a big advantage in public trust on education issues) was likely to win. If tax cutting were the focus of a campaign, the Republican would prevail. Candidates’ positions wouldn’t have changed, just the focus of the race.
Apparently, the White House and Democratic congressional leadership feel that the slovenly crowds that march under the Occupy Wall Street banner will elevate their issues in the year ahead. But are these really the stars to whom Democrats want to hitch their wagon? It’s not as if they enjoy huge popular support.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen, for example, finds that only 36 percent of likely American voters have a favorable opinion of Occupy Wall Street protestors; 41 percent are unfavorable. As he reports: “The Occupy Wall Street protesters are tapping into the same public outrage over the bailouts that the Tea Party was built upon… [T]he difference is that the Tea Party believes taxpayer bailouts should be stopped while the Occupy Wall Street protesters appear to want their own bailout.”
That is not the only difference. It may seem like a small thing, but protestors who pick up after themselves, speak to the police courteously, and respect the rights of others (I am talking about the Tea Party) will have a very different standing with the broader public than ones who defecate on police cars. OK, maybe defiling a cruiser was an isolated event. But New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vocal worries that the protestors would drive tourist out of New York spoke to the general impression of the movement’s character.
These are just the kinds of people Democrats embraced in the Vietnam period, persuading presidential voters for most of the next generation that the party was out of touch and even hostile to them.
Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen makes this same point in this morning’s Wall Street Journal (http://tinyurl.com/6jtwfbv). Schoen has had his staff questioning the Occupy Wall Street mob. It is easy to lampoon the incoherence of the protestors’ positions, and many conservatives have. But Schoen probed for their actual views.
Despite the call for jobs, this is hardly a down and out collection. As Schoen reports: “The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).” It is likely that the heavy representation of students and (as has been widely publicized, even celebrated) very wealthy radicals accounts for most if not all of the difference.
But Schoen concludes: “What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.”
The radicalism goes beyond domestic politics.
Powerline’s John Hinderbaker got hold of an email chain among Occupy Wall Street protestors (http://tinyurl.com/62u48xt), which he published yesterday. One clip catches the anti-Israeli, even anti-Semitic tone, of the batch: “Christopher Columbus was the first ZIONIST ===don’t you guys get it? The same colonial narrative–genocide.”
This past week, National Journal magazine asked its Political Insiders panel if Democrats should embrace Occupy Wall Street. One (unnamed) Republican replied: “My dear Democratic friends, please, please, please hug these confused, repulsive crazies as close to you as you can. Feature them at your convention. Make them the warm-up speakers for every campaign event at every level. You won’t regret it. Promise.”
Democrats would be insane to take that advice. But oddly enough, that is exactly what they are in the process of doing.