It doesn't come as a huge surprise that President Obama has decided to embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement. There has always been a certain drum circle flavor to this administration. In fact, nothing illustrated the point so well as when, a couple of weeks ago (before the president decided that OWS was his ticket to re-election), Vice President Biden referred in a radio interview to one of the agitators as "Van Jones, whoever he is." The program's host interjected that Jones was the former "green jobs" czar in the Obama administration. Ah.
But that's no longer an embarrassment because the administration and the Democratic Party have decided to join (or at least support) the throngs chanting, "What do we want? Revolution! When do we want it? Now!" Nancy Pelosi is pleased. "God bless them for their spontaneity." The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced in a fundraising letter that it is seeking 100,000 signatures on a petition declaring "I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests." And David Plouffe, the president's senior campaign advisor, sounded upbeat for the first time in a while. "We intend to make it one of the central elements of the campaign next year," he told the Washington Post. "One of the main elements of the contrast will be that the president passed Wall Street reform and our opponent and the other party want to repeal it."
This strategy has, to put it mildly, a number of potential pitfalls. There is, for starters, the fact that, unlike the orderly and respectful Tea Party protesters, OWS has already done a number of things likely to alienate the average American. They've defecated on police cars, screamed anti-Semitic rants, trampled on the American flag and, as noted above, shouted themselves hoarse for revolution. Their signs bear such clever slogans as "F**k the rich." Again, in contrast to the Tea Party, they seem not so much opposed to bailouts in principle as simply wanting a piece of the action. One of the planks of their "platform" is the forgiveness of all debt. Another is "free" university education.
An additional complication for the Obama strategy is that it requires people to forget that he has been president. He will run again as the outsider, the man of the people against the plutocrats of the Republican Party. But this president supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He bailed out the auto companies. He was the darling of Wall Street bundlers in 2008. And one exasperated Wall Street insider told Politico: