Protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement are "jealous" and "playing the victim card," Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain said on Sunday, in an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation."
“To protest Wall Street and the bankers is basically saying you’re anti-capitalism,” Cain said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. With that, Cain seizes the lead among Republican candidates in condemning the protests, which have spread to numerous other cities across the country, and have occasionally triggered clashes between activists and police.
The Times notes that responses to the protesters are starting to break along partisan lines. Cain accused labor unions of helping to arrange the demonstrations, and depicted the rallies as calculated attempts to distract voters from the economic slump that is imperiling President Barack Obama's chances of reelection.
Not to be outdone, Rep. Michele Bachmann issued a similar message: Don't blame Wall Street; blame Obama.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, by contrast, sided with the protesters this week, noting that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hadn't been vocally opposed to protests when the protesters were members of the conservative Tea Party movement. (Cain, too, is something of a darling to Tea Party activists, who helped him win a Florida straw poll last month.)
From the Times:
“I didn’t hear him say anything when the tea party was out demonstrating, actually spitting on members of Congress right here in the Capitol, and he and his colleagues were putting signs in the windows encouraging them,’ Pelosi said.
Down on the ground, meanwhile, a demonstration that has lasted for three weeks despite police opposition and criticism of its lack of a coherent message is continuing. Protesters will march from their encampment in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street up to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, local media reported. They were joined on Sunday by members of the clergy, NY1, the local TV news channel, reported.
And The New York Times, whose own columnists had been among those to criticize the protesters for lacking clearly articulated policy aims, editorialized in their favor on Sunday.
It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.
Venerable New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin saw a parallel to the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the marches. Breslin sees the "spirit of Selma" alive in the demonstrations, and digs into a closet full of old notebooks to reveal a quote he took from a 10-year-old girl watching that march in 1965 in Alabama: "I know why you marchin'. I know it good."
Other initial skeptics are coming around, including Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post, who noted that the demonstrators have received words of sympathy from some of the people wielding the very power they resent, including Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.
“They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they’re dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington, and at some level I can’t blame them,” Bernanke told Congress’s Joint Economic Committee on Tuesday when he was asked what he thought of the movement.
The protests have already hopped across borders (including into Vancouver, the home city of Adbusters magazine, which helped organize the initial demonstrations), and continue to grow. Organizers told the Post they'd like to arrange major protests on Oct. 29, the weekend before the G-20 economic summit.