Was the demonstration against President Obama in Washington over the weekend anything more than the partisan fringe fest? Absolutely, say conservative pundits in applauding the success of the event. Here are their main points in the wake of the protest.
- Universal, Not Partisan Matt Welch wrote in the New York Post that the protesters weren't just there because Obama is a Democrat. "Sure, it's fair to wonder where these protesters were when Bush was expanding government at levels not seen since Lyndon Johnson," he wrote. "But the people I talked to had almost no kind words to say about W., and many explicitly warned that any Republican hoping to benefit from this backlash will have to re-embrace the fiscal discipline that the GOP abandoned en masse over the previous decade.
- Legitimate, Not Astroturf National Review's Mark Hemingway asked, "Can we drive a stake through the astroturf claim now?" He recalled speaking to protesters from 16 states and cited a South Carolina man who came to Washington, along with 160 of his neighbors, on a privately-chartered convoy of three buses. He called the protest "friendly and civil," "undeniably sober and informed," and "filled with immigrants." National Review colleague Jay Nordlinger noted that most signs were homemade.
- Sincere, Not Fringe Reason's Matt Welch suggested that there were few, if any, fringe elements at the protest. "The End-the-Fed, read-The-Fountainhead quotients were extremely marginal," he wrote. "All but one did not care about Obama's birth certificate controversy, and those I asked thought it was foolish to bring guns to political gatherings." Nation Review's Hemingway wrote, " I saw two, count 'em, birther signs in hours of wandering around."
- Any Fringe Wasn't GOP Jon Henke conceded that some wingnuts were present, but argued they weren't Republicans, but rather supporters of fringe Democrat Lyndon LaRouche. "There were a LOT of LaRouchies and Larouchies are not Republicans," he wrote. "Did you see all the Obama/Hitler signs?" he asked. "Those were by LaRouchies. I saw dozens and dozens."
- Liberals Will Spin Reason's Matt Welch warned that liberal pundits write "caricatures" of the protesters, citing Alex Pareene's description of them as "al Qaeda in America" as phony. "Political rallies are no place to seek the subtle truth, nor feel particularly glowing about your countrymen, and today was no different in that regard for me," he wrote. "But the meta-fact about a huge anti-Obamanomics protest eight months into his term is certainly significant, and very little of what I saw made me fear that Alex Pareene will be blown to smithereens by a suicide hijacker from Arkansas. I am confident, however, that I will soon be made to fear what I utterly failed to detect."
- Nothing Wrong with Confederate Flags James Joyner defended the number of Confederate flags at the rally. "Now, as a Southerner, I tend to have a more benign view of people waving Confederate flags or wearing pro-gun T-shirts," he wrote. "Some of them are racist yahoos, to be sure, but most of them are just decent folks taking pride in a way of life they feel is under assault."