Sunday, September 25, 2005

# Posted 6:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DEMOCRATIC PARTY M.I.A. AT THE PROTESTS: There are two basic staples of conservative bloggers' protest coverage. The first is to expose MSM coverage of the protests as hollow and one-sided. This is important, and OxBlog has no reservations about joining the chorus, but it shouldn't be the only story covered.

The second staple of conservative protest coverage is mocking the protesters, a la Michelle Malkin. In a limited sense, this sort of coverage also serves as a form of a media criticism, since the MSM have become so proficient at pretending the "moonbats" don't exist. Nonetheless, a fair amount of this coverage just crosses the line into being tasteless and spiteful.

So what can bloggers do to overcome this kind of entrenched habit? I'm not exactly sure, but I do want to focus in this post on one point that seems to have eluded the both the big papers and the bloggers completely: The Democratic Party, both in terms of official organizations and major politicians, stayed away from yesterday's protests like the plague.

There were a number of fringe Democrats on the speakers list, such as Jesse Jackson and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). But the closest thing I saw to official Democratic represenation was a number of protesters wearing t-shirts advertising the College Democrats. (Their timeless slogan: "Have you ever heard of a good piece of elephant?")

The closest thing I saw to a Dem-affiliated organization I saw was a delegation from SEIU, a service workers union. The SEIU brigade stood out both because of their purple t-shirts and because of their being almost exclusively black at a very, very white protest.

But perhaps one of the most important indications of the Democratic Party being MIA was what the protesters' signs were saying and what clothes they were wearing. I'd expected to see at least some leftover Kerry/Edwards paraphrenalia. Maybe I saw one or two items during my five hours at the protest.

In contrast, it was very easy to find folks wearing items such as the popular "International Terrorist" t-shirt, featuring a black-and-white portrait of President Bush. Naturally, I'm sure that almost everyone wearing those kind of t-shirts voted for Kerry last fall because they felt they had no choice. But their fashion preferences provide a good indication of just how far outside the Democratic mainstream most protesters are.

It is simple: If any Democratic senator or presidential candidate described Bush as a terrorist, they would destroy their own reputations. Imagine if Kerry had called Bush a terrorist. It would have made the reaction to Dick Durbin's "gulag" remarks seem tame.

If you read the WaPo or NYT, you get no sense of how far outside the Democratic mainstream the protesters are. And if you read conservative blogs, very few authors acknowledge that there are dramatic differences between the protesters and other liberals. (Although Glenn did point out that even some of Kos' bloggers found the protests distasteful.)

At the extreme of the protester spectrum are those who rare few who hold up posters of Bush and Hitler or superimpose a swastika on the American flag. But the description of Bush as a terrorist was common place. According to one chant I heard, "Who is a terrorist? Bush is a terrorist!" (Wash, rinse, repeat.)

The other major thread of protester sentiment that is totally anathema to the Democratic mainstream is the pervasive blood-for-oil slogan. Sample chant: "George Bush, corporate whore -- we don't want your oil war!"

On the rare occasions when protesters did refer explicitly Democrats, their comments were critical. One sign I saw compared today's Dems to LBJ. And there were at least as many of those sorts of signs as there were pro-Democratic ones.

Perhaps the closest thing I saw to real, active passionate support of the Democratic party was when Ralph Nader took the stage at the Ellipse and someone behind me screamed "F*** you, Ralph!" Al Gore would be proud.
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