An instant classic from Charles Cooke at NRO, and also the two most excruciating minutes you’ll spend today. The lingering question: How representative is our inarticulate proletarian hero here of the rest of the commune in Zuccotti Park? On the one hand, he’s mercifully dogma-free. No impromptu lectures on socialist theory or digressions about the Jews who control the banks; he just wants some money, so can you give him some money, please? On the other hand, “give me some money” is socialist theory, basically. He’s an ideologue waiting to happen, he’s just not quite there yet.
Either way, the center-leftists at TNR have seen enough. An early sign that OWS has become too fringe-y to make establishment Democrats comfortable, or just further evidence that those darned Zionist hawks under Martin Peretz’s wing are traitors to the cause?
[I]t is just not the protesters’ apparent allergy to capitalism and suspicion of normal democratic politics that should raise concerns. It is also their temperament. The protests have made a big deal of the fact that they arrive at their decisions through a deliberative process. But all their talk of “general assemblies” and “communiqués” and “consensus” has an air of group-think about it that is, or should be, troubling to liberals. “We speak as one,” Occupy Wall Street stated in its first communiqué, from September 19. “All of our decisions, from our choices to march on Wall Street to our decision to camp at One Liberty Plaza were decided through a consensus process by the group, for the group.” The air of group-think is only heightened by a technique called the “human microphone” that has become something of a signature for the protesters. When someone speaks, he or she pauses every few words and the crowd repeats what the person has just said in unison. The idea was apparently logistical—to project speeches across a wide area—but the effect when captured on video is genuinely creepy.
These are not just substantive complaints. They also beg the strategic question of whether the protesters will help or hurt the cause of liberalism. After all, even if the protesters are not liberals themselves, isn’t it possible that they could play a constructive role in forcing Americans to pay attention to important issues such as inequality and crony capitalism? Perhaps. But we are hard-pressed to believe that most Americans will look at these protests, with their extreme anti-capitalist rhetoric, and conclude that the fate of the Dodd-Frank legislation—currently the best liberal hope for improving democratically regulated capitalism—is more crucial than they had previously thought.
New numbers check: A Reuters/Ipsos poll of adults finds 38 percent view OWS favorably compared to just 24 percent who don’t, but a Rasmussen poll of likely voters finds just 36 percent view the movement favorably compared to 41 percent who don’t. No wonder TNR is nervous. Imagine what the numbers would look like if the media wasn’t hip-deep in the tank for Johnny Paymytuition here.
Since I started the post by trying to distinguish among protesters, let’s end it that way too. Exit question: Who exactly is planning its marches? Grassroots members or someone else?
Update: Everybody out — for a day.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the site of the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration in Lower Manhattan today and informed protesters that the private park where they are staying will be cleaned on Friday…
In a statement, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway said the cleaning will be done in stages and that demonstrators can return to the cleaned areas, so long as they follow rules set by Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zuccotti Park.
“The mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park,” Holloway said in the statement. “This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City.”
I recommend reading the letter from Brookfield to NYPD chief Ray Kelly, as it doesn’t mince words about the “unsanitary and unsafe” conditions in the park and the hundreds of complaints they’ve gotten from locals about the various types of crime happening in plain sight, from drug use to “lewdness” to harassment of passersby. New suspense for New Yorkers: Which park will have the privilege of hosting this vanguard of the Democratic base while Zuccotti gets a very thorough power-washing?