Ed Driscoll

Kabuki Theater, Then And Now

In his latest op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Glenn Reynolds asks, “Remember when protest was patriotic?”

The truth is that for my adult lifetime, “protest” has been a kind of Kabuki engaged in by  organized groups on the Left with help from the press — as in the recent bus tour of AIG executives that was organized and paid for by an ACORN affiliate and in which the protesters were heavily outnumbered by the media, who nonetheless generally treated it as an “authentic” expression of populist discontent.   Things like that tour led President Obama to warn bankers that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks, one of a number of thuggish statements he’s made along these lines.

Funny how fast the worm — or maybe it’s the pitchfork — has turned. Now that we’re seeing genuine expressions of populist discontent, not put together by establishment packagers on behalf of an Officially Sanctioned Aggrieved Group, we’re suddenly hearing complaints of “mob rule” and demands for civility.   Civility is fine, but those who demand it should show it.  The Obama administration — and its corps of willing supporters in the press and the punditry — has set the tone, and they are now in a poor position to complain.

Whether they like it or not — and the evidence increasingly tends toward “not” — President Obama and his handlers need to accept that this is a free country, one where expressions of popular discontent take place outside the electoral process, and always have.  (Remember
Martin Luther King?)   What historians like Gordon Wood and Pauline Maier call “out-of-doors political activity” is an old American tradition, and in the past things have been far more “boisterous” than they are today.   Rather than demonizing today’s protesters, perhaps they might want to reflect on how flimflams and thuggishness have managed to squander Obama’s political capital in a few short months, and ponder what they might do to regain  the trust of the millions of Americans who are no longer inclined to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt.

As Allahpundit noted in a recent post, Congress and the state-run media are playing a different sort of kabuki with their attempt to (further) socialize health care:

Let me remind you again: They can pass any bill they want any time they want. Conservatives can scream their heads off at these things and there’s not an ounce of good it’ll do if Democrats are united. This whole partisan “war” Obama and Axelrod have concocted is kabuki theater against an enemy they’ve already (momentarily) defeated; it’s the Blue Dogs’ fear that they’ll be thrown out of office if they vote for this travesty that’s put the left in the predicament they’re in. The cowardice they’re showing in not wanting to face their constituents is actually obscuring the deeper cowardice of the the party stalling on a landmark bill they finally have the numbers to pass for no better reason than that doing so will jeopardize their hold on power next year. They want ObamaCare and they want their permanent majority, and if the only way they can get both is by calling conservatives Nazis then that’s what they’re a-gonna do.

Of course, as John Leo asks, in a headline titled, “Nancy’s Nazi Shock: Did She Forget the Bush Years?” Leo runs through just a sample of endless Bush-as-Hitler riffs from the previous eight years, including from both former vice president Al Gore and leftwing financier George Soros. As Leo asks, “As far as we know, Nancy Pelosi never complained about any of this. Maybe she didn’t notice.”

And speaking of whom, let’s spend some time observing Nancy and her Astroturfers doing their thing.

Update: “Nazi-invoking Democrats complain: Rush is calling us Nazis!” It’s Godwin’s Möbius Loop!