L. Gordon Crovitz on failed Twitter protests Last week, Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters, seeking to "spark demonstrations ... created a Twitter topic with the hashtag #OccupyWallStreet, asking people to come to New York's Financial District to join what they said would be tens of thousands in a 'leaderless resistance movement' objecting to banks, capitalism and other perceived evils," writes L. Gordon Crovitz in The Wall Street Journal. The group cited as precedent the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt. But the demonstrations "were a bust," Crovitz says. A few hundred "over-educated and underemployed" protesters "occupied" Zuccotti Park, a few blocks from Wall Street. (Never mind, Crovitz reminds us, that most big banks have moved to Midtown.) New Yorkers mostly saw the protestors as an inconvenience. Some were arrested for setting up tents or wearing masks. Police blocked off several streets to keep protestors from popular landmarks. "This worked, but it is inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of locals who live and work in the area." The organizers were wrong to compare the movement to Tahrir, Crovitz says. One New York college student with family from Egypt wrote, "It's insulting. And it's disrespectful to the thousands who were brutally murdered and tortured and raped all across the Middle East and North Africa in their actual fights for freedom from their chains." It wasn't the only failed Twitter protest of the month, though. Crovitz recalls "AttackWatch," the Obama campaign's attempt to invite supporters "to report alleged falsehoods about the president." Conservatives merely hijacked the hashtag, making jokes of it instead, and the campaign has apparently since abandoned it.
Michael Tomasky on Obama and independents "Well, it's official: Barack Obama isn't trying to change politics anymore," writes Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast. Tomasky cites a Washington Post article that argues Obama wants to revive support from traditional Democratic voting blocs, and he's taking a tougher tone on Republicans. In that sense, the 2012 campaign might look like George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. Bush recognized he wasn't popular with independents, so instead, he focused on turnout among his base. Some wonder though whether this strategy will push independents further away. Democrats often mistakenly abandon independents as "Republicans Lite," Tomasky says. While most independents are mostly Republicans or Democrats who prefer not to identify as such, 10 to 15 percent aren't. These independents take progressive and conservative positions, and they look above all for a functional leader. Obama made the mistake of believing independents wanted him to compromise on the debt ceiling when they probably just wanted him to look strong. Bush in 2004 said to independents "You might not always agree with me, but you know where I stand," whereas Democrats seem to say "You might not know where I stand, but I'm always trying to look like I agree with you!" Obama can appeal to the base and the independents by simply emphasizing issues where they agree, focusing on their similarities, and pursuing their agenda aggressively.