Someone actually thought it was a good idea to bring a Confederate flag to protests at the White House, ones attended by Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz. Shockingly the flag's presence is backfiring for conservatives who hoped today's protests would be the big momentum turn in their favor.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, flanked by former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, headlined protests at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall Sunday morning, as they helped push through barriers and lead a contingent of veterans into the government site closed due to the shutdown. The goal was simple: use this stand to blame Obama for shutdown and, while side-by-side with a crew of veterans, accuse the President of using veterans as a pawn in the shutdown game. For a while the effort seemed to be working, at least on the right. The National Review's Robert Costa explained on Twitter:
This is a big story; House conservatives tell me it's a "game-changer," gives Right new momentum ahead of this week http://t.co/QRzlHrjOcf— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 13, 2013
If you can't fathom my report about Right enthusiasm/#war mentality following memorial protests, go ask a righty lawmaker, or check out...— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 13, 2013
... front pages of Breitbart, Twitchy, Drudge, Blaze, Townhall, Daily Caller, etc— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 13, 2013
When I say "big story," I mean big story to those on Right on Hill who have some sway/decisions to make in the coming days— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 13, 2013
That's what I'm reporting: this vet/Palin/Cruz memorial protest story is going viral quickly on right, will shape House GOP scene on M & T— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 13, 2013
As groups of truckers converged on the protest with the veterans, the unrest in Washington only grew. Everything was looking up for the right. The base was taking a stand and literally tearing down barriers put up by the government. But then all the momentum the Right had seemingly gained went straight down the toilet:
Shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to see a Confederate flag in this picture. pic.twitter.com/9xOuD8ed1R— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) October 13, 2013
Pro tip: If you want to express your love of US Army & its monuments … leave the Confederate flag at home. pic.twitter.com/dyByu9av51— davidfrum (@davidfrum) October 13, 2013
Never mind the horrible polling numbers that show Republicans taking a huge hit for the shutdown. At their big turnaround effort to win public opinion, the Confederate flag reared its ugly head and undid any progress or good will they hoped to earn on Sunday. Many were quick to explain just how terribly, impossibly bad this looks for Republicans:
In many parts of America, waving a Confederate flag outside the home of a black family would be considered a very hostile act.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) October 13, 2013
sen cruz, palin gather angry mob to damage property, wave confederate flag outside black family's home #tcot— Liam Liwanag Burke (@liamlburke) October 13, 2013
Waving a Confederate flag at the home of a black family isn't okay anywhere. It's a threat of violence.— Lee Fang (@lhfang) October 13, 2013
In fairness, tea party bringing confederate flags to rally reminds us that first shutdown in 1860s was considerably worse than this one.— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 13, 2013
Some members of the conservative media tried to defend the guy carrying the Confederate flag:
Good for the media. They've finally found the grand mastermind of all conservative politics: some random jackass with a Confederate flag.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) October 13, 2013
Give liberals this: They figured out that the one clown with a Confederate flag on Pa. Ave. is the true leader of American conservatism.— Timothy P Carney (@TPCarney) October 13, 2013
But others disputed that weak defense, because the Confederate flag pops up in conservative controversies every few months. Saying that one guy is an outlier doesn't work, the argument goes, because that one guy is popping up too often:
If thousands of conservatives didn't display, defend, and clearly enjoy the hell out the confederate flag maybe we could talk outliers.— jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) October 13, 2013
Meanwhile, negotiations are still stalled in the Senate with no signs of a breakthrough coming.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.