The more I heard about Occupy Wall Street's drum-banging trek up to Mayor Bloomberg's digs, the more I have reflected on former president Bill Clinton's warm remarks about the movement.
I had thought Clinton was too smart and sensible to praise Occupy Wall Street. Was I ever wrong! An L.A. Times blog post quotes Clinton’s recent remarks during an appearance on “The Letterman Show:”
"They need to be for something specific, and not just against something because if you're just against something, someone else will fill the vacuum you create," he said. Clinton suggested the protesters get behind President Obama's jobs plan, which he claimed would create "a couple million jobs in the next year and a half."
Here is what the movement a former president believes should get more specific looks like:
The global movement began in New York's Zuccotti Park, which Mayor Mike Bloomberg finally cleared out last week after nearly two months of a tent city even the police feared to enter. By the end, it featured rapes, drug use and public health dangers.
It took 150 Sanitation Department workers hours to clear the mess, finding everything from used hypodermic needles to buckets of human waste. "These were some of the worst smells I've ever experienced," a veteran garbageman told the New York Post.
As far as criticism of Occupy goes, those on the left will at most complain that the movement has been hijacked (with the implication that in its inception it was pure.) Even somebody like Bill Clinton, who probably represents a fairly centrist view by the current standards of his party, is basically on their side.
It is interesting that no matter how violent, incoherent, or repellent Occupy Wall Street becomes, the left remains sympathetic. It may be because they do see OWS as a vacuum into which their ideas can be poured. It's worth noting that not just any ideas can be poured into the hole: when investor and radio host Peter Schiff went to Occupy to debate the protestors, he didn't make any converts at Zuccotti Park.
Compare this with Newt Gingrich’s more adult get-a-bath approach (as captured on the Weekly Standard’s blog):
The movement "starts with the premise that we all owe them everything," said Gingrich. And the movement's sense of entitlement is a "symptom how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying, 'Go get a job right after you take a bath,'" the former speaker of the House concluded.
Get a bath? Or get specific?
I'd urge the former.