Monday, October 3, 2011



Barack Obama has lost Middle America, the New York Times reports. But don't worry, he still has some support around the edges:
With his support among blue-collar white voters far weaker than among white-collar independents, President Obama is charting an alternative course to re-election should he be unable to win Ohio and other industrial states traditionally essential to Democratic presidential victories.
"There are a lot of ways for us to get to 270, and it's not just the traditional map," Obama aide David Axelrod tells the paper. Although, as the reporter observes, "Mr. Obama's approval ratings have slid across the board as unemployment remains high," Axelrod just thinks Obama's appeal is becoming more selective:
What buoys Democrats are the changing demographics of formerly Republican states like Colorado, where Democrats won a close Senate race in 2010, as well as Virginia and North Carolina.
With growing cities and suburbs, they are populated by increasing numbers of educated and higher-income independents, young voters, Hispanics and African-Americans, many of them alienated by Republicans' Tea Party agenda.
Could those demographics really have changed enough over the course of just four years to make up for the decline in Obama's popularity, not to mention the net gain of six electoral votes by states John McCain carried in 2008? Color us skeptical.

And what's the matter with Boulder? Why would higher-educated voters stick with Obama despite the manifest failures of his fiscal and economic policies? That Times story gives a clue. The corollary to that last quoted sentence is that Obama detractors are uneducated, poor, old, white people. Who wants to be associated with those losers?

Actually, come to think of it, maybe the best way to understand that passage is in terms of brand management. The Times is attempting not only to persuade its readers that it's uncool to vote Republican but also to reinforce its own position as a luxury product for people of high status.
Yet there is discontent with the president even among the liberal elite. Here is E.J. "Baghdad Bob" Dionne:
Obama's victory . . . partly demobilized the left. With Democrats in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, stepped-up organizing didn't seem quite so urgent.
The administration was complicit in this, viewing the left's primary role as supporting whatever the president believed needed to be done. Dissent was discouraged as counterproductive.
Wait, Baghdad Bob wants dissent? Not exactly. It turns out what he'd really like to see--we're not making this up--is dissenters who will "rally support" for Obama, and who will move him "in more progressive directions" while also providing a contrast that makes it harder "for conservatives to label Obama as a left-winger." In short, after Obama has given everyone a free lunch, Dionne wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Just as liberals for decades have tried to mimic successful conservative startups, from the Heritage Foundation to Rush Limbaugh's show and Fox News Channel, now Dionne wants a socialist Tea Party. He quotes Van Jones, the hard-left erstwhile "green jobs" czar. "This is our 'Tea Party' moment--in a positive sense," says Jones, who was forced to leave the White House in 2009 after someone noticed that he had signed a 9/11 "truther" petition. Adds Baghdad Bob: "The anti-Wall Street demonstators [sic] seem to have that sense, too."

Ho hum. No matter how these guys try to hype it, a left-wing political mob is a dog-bites-man story. For at least 40 years lefties have routinely mounted protests for fun and profit--rallying for a nuclear freeze, against various and sundry wars, against the World Trade Organization and other international financial agencies, against the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. On the right, by contrast, with the exception of the antiabortion movement, there is no permanent protest culture or infrastructure. That's why the Tea Party was important and newsworthy.
[botwt1003] Getty Images
Kristof: wowed by Twitter hippies.

But the Times's Nicholas Kristof, bless him, is sure there's something new and exciting here. He's written the most hilariously naive piece we've ever read (or perhaps the most hilariously wicked satire, though knowing Kristof, we really doubt that). The Wall Street protests, he writes, "reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo," center of the Arab Spring.

"There is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants," Kristof writes. Maybe the quinquagenarian Kristof is such a fogy that he's wowed by the ability to use Twitter, but trust us: Any idiot can do it, and most of them do. Kristof continues:
Most of all, there's a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable. . . .
Where the movement falters is in its demands: It doesn't really have any. The participants pursue causes that are sometimes quixotic--like the protester who calls for removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill because of his brutality to American Indians.
We've been there before--there not meaning downtown Manhattan but Washington in 2000:
Thousands of activists have gathered here for the Mobilization for Global Justice, a protest against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings. But this is no mass demonstration; it is a massive collection of tiny demonstrations. Pro-China activists oppose U.S. trade sanctions against Beijing, while a pro-Tibet contingent urges that Congress vote down permanent normal trade status for China. Members of the International Socialist Brigade carry signs urging: "Workers of the world, unite and fight." But a group called Unamerican Activities begs to differ. Its stickers bear a pithy message: "F--- work." . . .
It must be frustrating to be a young left-wing demonstrator in 2000, longing for the glory days of the Vietnam era. Back then, protesters had a clear and simple message: End the war. By contrast, nothing of consequence unites today's demonstrators.
More than a decade later, Kristof wants to change that. Like a junior policy analyst at the Hippie Heritage Foundation, he concludes with a bulleted list of tax and regulatory proposals he thinks the Occupy Wall Street crowd should urge Congress to enact.

But some of these guys already have policy proposals. Salon, for example, reported last week that one participant "wanted to focus on rolling back the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision." And what did he plan to do toward that end? Study law and help make the intellectual case for constraints on free speech? Work for the re-election of Obama, who would appoint justices less friendly to the First Amendment?

No, sleep on the street--and later, as the New York Post reports, shut down traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, provoking some 700 arrests. This is nothing but mindless opposition--and it is opposition of the perverse sort that Baghdad Bob wishes for, which is to say that it is "dissent" on behalf of the most powerful man in the world.

In a fascinating 10-minute YouTube report, Adam Kokesh, who seems to be a genuine left-wing anarchist, interviews participants in Occupy DC, the capital's counterpart of Occupy Wall Street. He shows them to be (1) airheads, and (2) basically just big-government Democrats with an authoritarian streak similar to that we've observed recently among the donks.

Our guess is that this will all fizzle out as the weather gets cooler (for which, of course, we blame global warming). It's not impossible, however, that we'll see more disruptions like the one at the Brooklyn Bridge, or maybe even violence, à la the Seattle WTO riots of 1999.

We've heard right-wingers express fear, and left-wingers voice hope, that President Obama will somehow get re-elected by exploiting civil unrest. For the life of us, we can't imagine how that's supposed to work. Imagine how much more selective Obama's appeal would become with 9% unemployment and a breakdown of public order.

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