Saturday, September 12, 2009


Have I seen this movie before? Barack Obama, at the end of a summer in which he's been accused of drift, gives a terrific speech and rallies his forces ... but then, in September, an event centered on a neurotic demagogue takes place, and all the right-wing crazies are thrilled and energized. Everyone forgets the Obama speech that was just being praised as a political turning point. Then...

When I read that organizers of today's Glenn Beck-stock in D.C. are expecting a million attendees, and some Democrats (perhaps trying to raise the bar so a smaller crowd will look like a disappointment) are predicting two million, I thought: Why didn't Obama deliver his health care spech after the 9-12 thing? The 9-12 gathering could be very big. The mainstream press will be surprised if it's big. Even though the attendees will be the same old wingnuts who are always out there, the press will ask whether this is some huge turning point.

But that's exactly what happened after the memory of Obama's convention speech was wiped out by Sarah Palin's convention speech. And maybe the Obama people actually gamed this out and thought the pattern might repeat -- the entire pattern.

Sure, Palin became a media darling -- for a while. Her acolytes were portrayed in the press as the salt of the earth. But she, and they, overreached. They didn't bother to hide their extremism at a time when the mainstream spotlight was on them. And Obama was able to run against crazy.

Is that how it's going to work out this time? And did Team Obama see the pattern? Just wondering.


In case you missed it, here's a Fox promo for the 9-12 confab posted by Kevin yesterday over at Rumproast. Yes, it does seem to be equating Democrats in Congress with Nazis and al-Qaeda. (It also seems to be inplicitly equating landing on the beach at Normandy with holding up a sign showing Obama wearing a Hitler mustache.)



An odd thing about Glenn Beck's movement is the fact that it's intensely partisan, yet it uses the langage of unity:

I think Matt Yglesias had the clearest explanation for that a few months ago:

... the underlying issue seems to be that rule by conservatives is integral to the right's conception of the United States of America. This is part of the rhetoric of the "heartland" and "real America" ...

The people on the outs [now] are "normal" and the people running the show are "abnormal." ... the authentic America is seen as the white & Christian American, an entity in whose defense one can claim to rebel against the actual United States of America.

I think that's it -- I think that's how they can talk of secession and overthrow while talking about "unity" at the same time. I think that's why they see protests against a decisively elected president as an effort to "take democracy back": They just don't think we're Americans. We're multiracial. A lot of us are coastal. Many of us aren't Christian. Therefore, we don't count.

I should point out that Matt was writing about right-wing militias. But there's really not much difference between those groups and the group gathering in Washington right now -- and surely there's plenty of overlap.

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