The right-side of the blogosphere was all over yesterday’s protests against the bailouts:
Several thousand neopatriots – some shouting “Give me liberty or give me death!” – took to the streets in over 30 US cities Friday, representing what some of them call the beginning of a new conservative counterculture in America.
“The spark has been lit,” says Ben Mihalski, a “house husband” from Cobb County, Ga., one of at least 300 protesters who gathered in a hefty downpour outside the Georgia Capitol on Friday to protest what they see as profligate spending by Washington.
Protesters with sign-slogans like “Pillage and plunder: At least the Vikings did it openly” fanned out across capitols and courthouses in cities from Nashville, Tenn., to Los Angeles, objecting to bailouts and policy changes since the inauguration of President Obama.
The Tea Party USA movement also added some symbolic flourish, vowing to gather tens of thousands of tea bags to be dumped on the floor of the US Congress. In Atlanta, the brand was Luzianne.
Critics call the protests a predictably partisan, ill-informed and unhelpful development in the midst of a deep-sink US recession.
But the largely grassroots show of force hints at a sharpening thorn for Democrats and a potential powder keg that could threaten to blow ahead of the 2010 congressional elections.
Or do they ?
Rick Moran, who blogs at Right Wing Nut House, isn’t convinced at all:
I will say this as gently as my curmudgeonly soul will allow; not a chance. It is delusional to believe that these tea parties are the beginning of anything except a round of raucous Bronx cheers from the left, calling conservatives out for their inexplicable, over the top reaction and unrealistic expectations for these 40 or so tea parties that went off today.
If this really was the beginnings of something profound that was tapping into the rage of the American people, there would have been not 300 but 30,000 people screaming their opposition to spendthrift Obama. People would have taken off from their jobs, bundled up against the cold, walked, rode, took the bus, or crawled their way to a protest if they were truly fed up and ready to throw the Democratic rascals out.
Instead, we get 40 events that remind me of the old Mickey Rooney Andy Hardy movies where he and Judy Garland would put on a show to save someone’s business or house. “Hey kids! Let’s put on a show!” was Rooney’s battle cry in those movies and it is an apropos slogan for the effort that went into promoting these tea parties.
When you get some money, organization, professionalism, and a little more realism, come back and see me.
But, really, Rick may have a point here.
As he notes, there were several thousand conservative activists in Washington today as part of CPAC, and yet only a few hundred people showed up for the Tea Party at Lafayette Square Park. Is this really a movement, or just more of the same symbolism we’ve seen over and over again ?
More importantly, the polls aren’t showing any indication that the general public is buying into Republican arguments against Obama’s economic policies right now. So, are these protests we’re seeing really representative of anything real going on nationwide ?
Frankly, I don’t know. The average American isn’t going to go in for protests like this no matter which side of the political aisle they come from. What matters to them are results, and, for the moment at least, they seem to be giving Obama the benefit of the doubt.
As I’ve said time and again, there’s very little Republicans can do to move the ball forward right now. Their own success is not in their hands, but is dependent upon how the economy performs and whether the public blames Obama if things don’t improve quickly. Until we know how that turns out, all this other stuff is just preaching to the choir nonsense.