WRM: OWS, RIP
Veteran public speaker Cavett Robert was fond of telling newcomers, "Don't be in too much of a hurry to promote, until you get good. Otherwise you just speed up the rate at which the world finds out you're no good."
The Tea Party was born spontaneously in early 2009 but, with the exception of CNBC's Rick Santelli, received little public support from the MSM (almost entirely the opposite, and that's understating the case, as we all know). Unfortunately, Occupy Wall Street had far more ink than it knew what to do with in its early days last fall, thanks to an overwhelming superfluity of promoters in the legacy media who, along with Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other Democrat politicians, were desperate to have a Tea Party-style movement of their own. Well, besides, as Glenn Reynolds noted last year, "the Coffee Party, the Brownbaggers, The Other 95%, A New Way Forward, the One Nation Movement— am I leaving any out? I can’t remember."
Walter Russell Mead (who reminds us that he much prefers his tea "tasted with pinkies appropriately extended in the proper, traditional way") pronounces OWS RIP today:
To some degree, it was killed by its “friends.” The tiny left wing groups that exist in the country jumped all over the movement; between them and the deranged and occasionally dangerous homeless people and other rootless wanderers drawn to the movement’s increasingly disorderly campsites, OWS looked and sounded less and less like anything the 99 percent want anything to do with. At the same time, the movement largely failed to connect with the African American and Hispanic churchgoers who would have to be the base for any serious grass roots urban political mobilization. The trade unions picked up the movement briefly but dropped it like a hot brick as they found the brand less and less attractive.
It is as if the Tea Party had been taken over by the Aryan Brotherhood and delusional vagrants while failing to connect with either evangelical Christians or respectable libertarians. The MSM at one point was visibly hungering and thirsting for exactly that fate of marginalization to happen to the Tea Party, and the MSM did its klutzy best to tar the Tea Party with that kind of Mad Hatter extremism. The Tea Partiers by and large (not always or cleanly) escaped the fatal embrace of the nutters and the ranters on their side of the spectrum; OWS was occupied by its own fringe, and so died.
OWS’s popularity continues to plummet. Many pollsters haven’t even bothered to ask the public about OWS since the protestors were kicked out of Zuccotti Park. The NBC/WSJ poll, one of the only reliable indicators of OWS support these days, shows OWS’s popularity has dropped by half since November. Over the same period NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg’s popularity has remained steady months after closing the sad and futile encampment at Zuccotti Park. No backlash there.
Of course, as Jonah Goldberg has written, what Occupy really needs (needed?) is a Republican president to protest against. At least during the mid-1960s, the nascent new left railed against LBJ, causing him to ultimately resign. If any Occupiers called for Obama's resignation, I missed it; perhaps sensing that they would only speed up the preference cascade against him, the legacy media, despite going all in (and I mean, all in) for OWS, certainly didn't play up any quotes along similar lines. Instead, we had the first "revolution" raging for the machine.