Ed Driscoll

Curiously, the Times Seems Ambivalent on This Development

“NY Times: GOP’ers sounding more like Occupy Wall Street, scaring business leaders,” Noah Rothman writes at Hot Air:

“Mr. Cantor’s loss is much more than just symbolism,” the Times reported on Saturday. “He has been one of Wall Street’s most reliable benefactors in Congress. And Mr. Brat used that fact to deride the majority leader as someone who has rigged the financial system.”

What has concerned many businesses with a stake in federal policy is a growing anger on the right from people who can sound more Occupy Wall Street than Tea Party.

The Times quotes Potomac Research Group strategist Gregory R. Valliere who said that it is not unreasonable to make a comparison between tea party conservatives and “Elizabeth Warren liberals” in terms of the rising tide of economic populism. He declined, however, to make that direct comparison.

If businesses are truly sensing that an element of Occupy’s disaffected populism has begun to characterize the tea party’s rhetoric, they have only now started listening. Among the organizing principles which drew grassroots conservatives to the tea party movement in the first place was its willingness to attack Republicans as well as Democrats who facilitate what they view as crony capitalism. In the sense that both groups are suspicious of celebrated practices in Washington which enrich the well-connected and expand the state, but which never seem to directly or even indirectly benefit average Americans, Occupy and the tea party do share a common ideological bond.

But that’s about where the similarities end. It is difficult to believe that business and financial interests see the likely ascension of an economics professor from Virginia with an affinity for laissez-faire markets to the House of Representatives represents some horrible portent. The tea party seeks, and has always sought, to reduce the distortion in markets created by the collusion between politicians and moneyed interests. As an extension of the perennial squabble between Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian philosophies, the tea party’s rise to become a functional wing of the GOP is a most uniquely American political expression. Occupy, meanwhile, would have liked nothing more than to lead the American financial class to the gallows. There is nothing in the American political tradition which serves as a precedent for that virulent form of populism.

Occupy was the latest, and arguably more “successful” of the many attempts by the left to find a counter-narrative to the Tea Party, whose success in 2009 and 2010 utterly unnerved the left, who had convinced themselves that conservatism was dead, and the Brave New World that the Lightworker had ushered in would last for a thousand years. Or at least forty, as James Carville boasted in 2009 at the apex of Hopenchange. But it’s curious that these days, the Gray Lady appears somewhat ambivalent about the Occupy-style tones coming from the right, since they went all-in to support Occupy in the fall of 2011, with one Times reporter arrested during Occupy’s attempt to hold the Brooklyn Bridge hostage, and several columnists having Dr. Zhivago-esque flashbacks from the the motley crew down in Zuccotti Park. Paul Krugman becoming so obsessed, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal dubbed Occupy “the Krugman Army,” and I created the Kiss Army-inspired Photoshop to accompany my posts on the topic.

But one reason businesses never took Occupy that seriously is that there was a huge element of kabuki to it — the Occupiers wanted more government, not less, and more regulation increases the cronyism that benefits big businesses — plenty of taxpayer dollars for bailouts, Solyndra-style vaporware start-ups, and all sorts of fiscal hijinks, and plenty of new regulations to keep smaller start-ups from interfering with megacorporations that have reached the “too big to fail” state.

Which is why Wall Street fell as hard for Obama in 2008 as the Times did for Occupy in 2011.