Ed Driscoll

Fight The Power—But Support The Man!

“My political goal,”says Brian Phillips, the head of communications for the NYC General Assembly, the group that Jonah Goldberg writes is chiefly responsible for the Occupying Wall Street, “is to overthrow the government:”

Brian Phillips is the head of communications for the NYC General Assembly, the group primarily responsible for occupying Wall Street. I learned about him while listening to National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” According to NPR, Phillips is “an ex-Marine with a bachelor’s in computer science. Today he is wearing a sock on his head.”

“My political goal,” Phillips says, “is to overthrow the government.”

Note: That’s not some random nut job pulled from his Lyndon LaRouche desk or tricked-out refrigerator box/time machine. That’s the communications director for the whole shebang, and his goal is to overthrow the government.

Now, he’s not advocating violence or dictatorship. No, he just wants the government to work on the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based, extremely deliberative form of direct democracy that they’re using down in Liberty Plaza. How that would work for some 300 million Americans remains a bit of a mystery.

But how do you overthrow the government and leave its Commander in Chief in power?

The anti-establishment crowd affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street protesters has gone out of their way to emphasize that they’re not protesting him when he visits Detroit Friday.

The grassroots group known as Occupy Detroit has planned its occupation for Friday — the same day President Barack Obama will visit the Metro area.

But the group doesn’t plan to protest the president, who will visit General Motors Co.’s Orion Assembly Plant with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to herald the pending U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement.

They’re anti-establishment, but not opposed to the current head of government. Somehow, despite his running the executive branch of American government, they see no reason to hold him accountable for any of their grievances.

Or as Noemie Emery writes today, “Protesters won’t dare picket Obama.” When I was kid, I remember anti-establishment forces took their poses a lot more seriously.

On the flip-side though, while Barbra Walters was part of the elite group of Manhattan “liberals” who enjoyed tea and canapes with the Black Panthers inside Lenny and Felcia’s Park Avenue duplex in 1970, Tom Wolfe never mentions her gushing, “I’m One of You!”  on that radical chic evening.

But then, Occupy Wall Street promises fun for “progressives” of all ages, as witnessed by Doris Kearns Goodwin going all-in, despite her first-hand knowledge of how protestors made LBJ a one-term president, as Wikipedia notes:

In 1967, Kearns went to Washington, D.C., as a White House Fellow during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Johnson offered the young intern a job as his assistant, an offer that was not withdrawn even after an article by Kearns appeared in The New Republic laying out a scenario for Johnson’s removal from office over his conduct of the war in Vietnam.[2]

I wonder what she thinks about helping to usher Richard Nixon into office?

Related: Victor Davis Hanson explores “When the Zealots Are No Longer Zealous:”

The second source of shame is the current anger over Wall Street, a furor that ironically was first seen with the Tea Party’s middle-class animus over retirement accounts that had crashed while many of those responsible for crashing them were bailed out by government money. Nonetheless, for the left it is somewhat hard to join in the Wall Street protests when a hard-left Democratic candidate like Barack Obama, who ran on populist rhetoric and persists in Huey Long sloganeering, has proven to be a president fascinated by Wall Street power, cash, and perks.

Most of his advisers were itinerant economists whose lives were often a three-way revolving door between high academia/institutes, Wall Street, and top government jobs — e.g., Peter Orszag, Larry Summers, or Timothy Geithner. Obama out-raised John McCain among the really big monied interests, and was the chief recipient of BP and Goldman Sachs cash. Easy Wall Street money led him to be the first presidential candidate to renounce public campaign financing in the general election — $1 billion in campaign money cuts a lot of prior principled assertions. And, of course, the first family’s personal tastes since assuming the presidency are certainly more akin to Citigroup executives than Trumanesque.

The effect of all this is that fierce critics of the Bush-Cheney War on Terror, or the 2008 excesses on Wall Street, have had to grow quiet, inasmuch as any continued criticism would hurt Barack Obama. But silence does not mean that his supporters appreciate the embarrassment, and that is precisely why there is unease among his base — and why in the last four weeks the president has once more tried to rev up the class-warfare rhetoric, albeit in a day-late, dollar-short fashion.

Something analogous happened to Bush when he desperately needed base support during the dark days of the Iraq insurgency, even as many hard-core conservatives felt the serial deficits, unfunded entitlements like the prescription-drug benefit or No Child Left Behind, the Harriet Miers nomination, and advocacy for “comprehensive” immigration reform had made them uneasy and embarrassed as fiscal and social conservatives. Their abandonment sent the president’s polls from the mid to low 40s to, at the end, the mid to low 30s.

Embarrassment is not so easily forgotten or forgiven, as Obama is now finding out.

“There is a sort of repressed anger that Obama has somehow embarrassed many of his supporters, as if their ecstasy of 2008 now seems almost adolescent,”VDH writes. Hence the need, as the boys in the Delta House would say, for a really futile fourth quarter gesture.

More: Now is the time when Small Dead Animals juxtaposes:

Nov 2008: After Barack Obama won a 52-48 victory over John McCain, a bunch of Obama supporters reached out to the “48”, assuring them that they would do better to understand.

Oct 2011: Now that their Messiah’s golden promises have turned out to be nothing more than a rusting, sinking hulk, similar 52’ers have very different messages to display.

Finally, at Newsbusters, “Top Ten Richest Celebrities Supporting Wall Street Protests.” Why isn’t Occupy Wall Street simultaneously fighting Hollywood greed?