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Monday, February 28, 2011

Real Populism Blooms, Right Wing Media Fumes

Last night, a loose, disorganized coalition of Marxist rebels, street gangs, and union thugs stormed the Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin, seizing the Capitol itself and occupying it. The air was thick with smoke as the rebels destroyed everything they could find. Local residents cowered in their basements, hoping the rampaging maniacs wouldn't find them, as the grim specter of death stalked this once proud city under the cover of night. Prayers for salvation went unanswered and it seemed even God had abandoned the populace.

At least, that's the impression you'd get if you were watching Fox News at about 4:00 central yesterday.

Fox's coverage was so extreme and so over-the-top that people were tweeting Fox's account to get updates on the death toll.

And the reporter who claims that protesters hit him? I'm going to go ahead and apply Breitbart's rule on that -- video or it never happened. Let the right live with the absurd burden of proof they demand of everyone else. Besides, there's good reason to believe it did never happen, since he makes the claim during a cutaway. Protesters would have no idea that the images weren't being broadcast -- there's no big neon "ON AIR" sign that goes dark in the field -- so there'd be no way for them to know that it was a perfect time to start whacking Fox's man on the scene over the head with their signs.

Meanwhile, over at Michelle Malkin's blog, we're told of a "breakdown of civil order" that "will lead to more civil disorder" by "Big Labor squatters who have grimed and slimed up the Capitol for almost two weeks." A quick check of the comment thread shows panicked calls for the National Guard to drive the protesters out with "Tear gas and bayonets." Ironically and hypocritically, these comments appear next to a sidebar item whining about how uncivil the left has been.

What all of this tells me is that the right is terrified right now. After whipping teapartiers up into a frenzy and walking away with the elections, Republicans and conservative media thought the country would be easy pickings. They'd dismantle our institutions and sell them off piece by piece -- and the populace, cowed by the "electoral might" of the Tea Party, would roll over and let it happen.

But once people got a taste of what Republican rule really meant, they didn't like it much. Republicans were warned again and again that they had no mandate. Polling showed that voters actually liked Republicans less than they liked Democrats. The wisest thing, everyone with any sense agreed, was for the GOP to take a caretaker role until they could boost their approvals a bit, then win in 2012 with an honest-to-goodness mandate. But Republicans, apparently too impatient for levelheadedness and restraint, went ahead and pretended they had a mandate anyway, steamrollering radical legislation through and acting as if they'd been elected pretty much unanimously. And look what happened. Fox News is reduced to reporting a nonexistent Maoist revolt in Madison, Wisconsin, as state after state finds itself facing the same wave of populist uprising. To flirt with the poetic, the GOP has awoken a sleeping giant.

That went well.

If you want to see what political overreach looks like, look to the Office of the Governor of Wisconsin. If you want to see what the consequences of that overreach are, look at the ripple-effect radiating outward across the country from that office.

And, if you want to see what democracy looks like, look at the protesters gathered in the capitol rotunda last night -- as well as the police who joined them.


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