One of my liberal friends who is in general depressed about the current state of politics did tell me there is one bright spot: Occupy Wall Street.
Well, OWS doesn’t sound like a positive development if you read this column by Daniel Henninger, who recently visited occupied Zuccotti Park:
I'd make a contribution to the Democratic House re-election committee to see Mrs. Pelosi lead the austere Steny Hoyer and a delegation of her House colleagues through Zuccotti Park. Spontaneity? Most of the people living atop the park's pavement are virtually catatonic.
A conventional wisdom has taken hold that somewhere deep inside the Middle Earth of Occupy Wall Street there is supposed to be a serious cry for jobs. Maybe at an OWS demo in Detroit. But not in Zuccotti Park.
Spread across a city block, the park's people have settled into a barely moving mass of down-market grunge "occupying" a marijuana oasis. Compared to this group, Mark Rudd and the Columbia University sit-ins of 1968 were Periclean Athens.
Democrats are putting a lot of hope in this catatonic mass of people that one Fox News writer saw as “some combination of Model U.N., Lord of the Flies and a Phish concert." (The writer had just observed them being led by a facilitator with a bullhorn to deny Rep. John Lewis, the Civil Rights icon, the right to speak at Occupy in Atlanta.)
It has become customary to say that the people of Occupy have some legitimate complaints (such as emerging into the world burdened with exorbitant college loan debt—this does indeed call for a reexamination of certain societal values, including why people are willing to go head over heels in debt to get a ticket punched at a brand name college. Was it worth it?). But I think it would be better if we took a more gimlet-eyed view of these mobs.
I apologize for being so bourgeois, but I agree with Heather Mac Donald (yes, I know I quoted her yesterday) on Occupy. She, too, has been to the park:
Why is a month-long slumber party in a public park more heroic or newsworthy than getting up daily and going to work? “I’ve been here a week and I’m lovin’ every minute of it,” a jagged-toothed, self-described vet leaning against a planter in Zuccotti Park told me on Sunday. One of the biggest decisions that he and his fellow occupiers have to make each day is whether to eat vegan or to scarf down some saturated animal fats in the Dunkin’ Donuts that regularly make the rounds, thanks to the bounteous food donations that pour into the park on an hourly basis. (The most critical decision, of course, is which local establishment to invade for your sanitary needs.)
I know that the Occupy types would say that there are no jobs. Whose fault is that? It is partly the result of the kinds of policies that, to the extent they have opinions, would be favored by Occupy.
More disturbing, if that’s possible, than the people of Occupy Wall Street, however, is the use politicians are making of them. As Henninger writes:
After last Saturday's global OWS demos, some asked how long a leaderless movement could last. Answer: As long as the President of the United States wants, or needs, it to last. According to a Washington Post report, "President Obama and his team have decided to turn public anger at Wall Street into a central tenet of their reelection strategy."
And so on Sunday, Mr. Obama found a way to yoke Martin Luther King Jr. to Occupy Wall Street: "If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there." Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has praised OWS for its "spontaneity."
These are not unemployed workers, Mr. President, this is a mob. Anyone who uses this mob to their advantage is ignorant or willing to engage in the politics of hatred.
Speaking of which, I do want to say something about the president’s taxpayer-funded bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia. It was a campaign event, pure and simple, and what makes it even more galling that we taxpayers had to pick up the tab is the hateful way in which the president talked about those who oppose his policies.