Well, the government shutdown continues, and poll numbers are horrific for Republicans and the rightbloggers who love them. Gallup showed the party’s approval rating dropping 10 points in a month to 28%. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans, according to a new Zogby poll, were at 13% approval.
The ship sails on, but already we can see several rightbloggers slipping quietly over the side, while others seem to be suffering from a form of intellectual scurvy.
As recently as the week before, rightbloggers were portraying the shutdown as a glorious battle against Big Government, their St. Crispin’s Day. Now some of them were saying, well, you know, this so-called “shutdown” isn’t really a shutdown at all.
Fox News had been calling it a “slimdown” for days, either to minimize its effects or as a homage to all the kids reliant on WIC benefits who’d be losing weight if this thing keeps up much longer. But once the exercise really started looking like a loser, rightbloggers began a less flattering reducing campaign.
Byron York, who back in March gave us “Five Reasons Republicans Shouldn’t Fear a Government Shutdown,” said last week at the Washington Examiner that the current state of affairs was really only a “17% government shutdown… Everyone knows the phrase ‘government shutdown’ doesn’t mean the entire U.S. government is shut down,” he sniffed, and the government was only “technically shut down.”
At Forbes, Paul Roderick Gregory upped, or rather downed, the ante, saying the shutdown or whatever actually affected only 13% of services (“At Most”). Kyle Becker of Independent Journal Review agreed, and said it only seemed bigger because “the Obama administration has made a public display of itself by throwing World War II veterans out of their privately funded memorial…” “13% Spending Reduction Is Called a Shutdown?” asked Before It’s News. “Not Even Much of a Slimdown: Only 13% of Government Shut Down — At Most,” nodded Ed Driscoll.
So why was everyone getting excited about this “shutdown” thing? Why, there were “Feds hiring for thousands of open jobs amid shutdown,” reported the Washington Times — you could see them at government websites, as if the government would ever be open again. (That’s another great thing about the private sector — you never see them offering jobs that don’t exist.)
Some of the brethren had an even better response: The negative polls themselves were a Big Government attack. The PJ Tatler’s Bryan Preston learned that in one such survey, conducted by NBC and the noted liberal rag The Wall Street Journal, 20 percent of respondents were either government employees or relatives of same, while only eight percent of the general population fits that description. True, fewer than half of that percentage were federal government employees who might be affected by the shutdown — state and local workers comprised the rest — but Big Gummint is Big Gummint even at the lowest level.
“I’m not screaming UNSKEWED POLLS!!!1!!!1!” here, but, it’s questionable,” said Preston. His hedging is understandable — “unskewed polls” was the rallying cry of rightbloggers who followed the Romney-rallying “reweighted” results of amateur pollster Dean Chambers into a ditch during the 2012 campaign.
But others were less cautious. “NBC/WSJ Poll that sinks the GOP is skewed,” cried Bunkerville. “A fraud, an absolute fraud… demonstrably skewed,” hollered radio host Mark Levin. “That WSJ poll was slanted to the Left & Obama’s numbers are plunging,” tweeted John Hawkins of Right Wing News. “Perfectly consistent with the conventional wisdom of the traditional media, which is heavily skewed against the Republicans,” said Mark Tapscott.
“The sample is skewed in a number of ways, and we know who did the poll and we know where they live; we know what their desires are,” said Rush Limbaugh. “But then again, I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of success in running around trying to convince low-information voters that the poll is bogus.”
Finally Chambers himself returned from the Where Are They Now file to tell us, “what has to be understood is, liberals and their allies and willing accomplices in the so-called mainstream media don’t live in the real word, but they think or claim they do. They live in their own unreality, which they have created, in which their skewed media polls and their biased and one-sided ‘news’ coverage of the major issues of the day are the truth…” Also, Obama’s gay.
Some more traditional demurrers were offered, our favorite being that of Marion Evans of Ricochet who, in response to an ABC poll that showed 71 percent of the public blaming Republicans for the shutdown, against 61 percent blaming Democrats and 51 percent blaming Obama, “for our purposes — and factoring in Obama’s greater charismatic appeal — you can call the poll a tie.”
Republicans did what they could, which wasn’t much. The House GOP sent out a number of mini-resolutions “to fund & reopen vital functions of government and they are now sitting on Harry Reid’s desk,” said Debra Heine of Breitbart.com; among these was a “Bill To Allow Military Chaplains To Hold Services During Shutdown,” which was vital, Heine explained, because “priests were told that they could even get arrested for volunteering to serve.” Surely Americans would turn around on the shutdown if they knew Obama was threatening priests, like he always does.
But these were really just skirmishes — the truly grand battle for public opinion, rightbloggers knew, would be fought in the streets, or at least on the National Mall and thereabouts. The week before, the Battle of the World War II Memorial had galvanized rightbloggers who believed the sight of veterans shut out their Memorial by a heartless Obama regime would prove their case against Big Government. But that seemed not to have done the trick, so activists hastily organized new events to refocus public attention.
Last week the Washington Times announced a Ride for the Constitution, to be effected by truck drivers who would take time out of their long, hard workdays to “descend on the Beltway… encouraging a wider general strike that would last through the weekend.”
“If you’ve ever lived in Washington, D.C. you know that morning traffic on the Beltway can be a pain in the neck,” giddily reported Rick Moran of American Thinker. “On October 11, it’s going to get a lot worse.”
The WashTimes was carefully to add that earlier threats made by one Earl Conlon — who had portrayed himself to U.S. News and World Report as “handling logistics for the protest,” and said that participants would not only shut down D.C. traffic, but also “arrest …everyone in government who has violated their oath of office” — had been renounced, with Conlon explaining, “it was just my way of getting your attention.”
Anyway the Ride was breathlessly covered by rightbloggers such as Susan Duclos, who informed readers that “already one report has come out about cops pulling over portions of the convoy” and ran a picture of trucks on a highway as evidence that the protest was in full effect.
The great thing about Ride for the Constitution, Moonbattery said, was that “you don’t have to drive a truck to take part.” This was apparently how the overwhelming majority of supporters chose to participate. Our favorite lines from rightblogger coverage on the unevent were supplied by WorldNetDaily:
An online service detailing information about commutes in Washington reported there had been several accidents, and several sections where travel times were being extended, but no major closures or other impacts.
This link is to a series of traffic cameras around Washington.
One of the [protest’s] Facebook pages had more than 123,000 “likes.”
Then there was a “Million Veteran March” to Washington on Sunday to tear down barricades at D.C. landmarks, with Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz along for support, and thus win the love of the people.
Yeah, we know, but rightbloggers went for it anyway.
“Veterans first fought America’s wars,” perorated WorldNetDaily, “then they fought the National Park Service over White House-ordered closures of war memorials because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.” Unlike Hitler, however, Obama remains in office, so patriots formed a website declaring that “Barack Obama” — none of this “President” stuff for the Kenyan Pretender! — “is behaving like a vicious tyrant. And if he succeeds in this assault on the democratic system, the republic we love is at mortal risk.” Joining the Vets would be a “2 Million Bikers,” WorldNetDaily excitedly continued. It would be like Lafayette coming to the aid of the Boys of ’76, but much less Frenchy.
“‘Million’ vets are in DC to demand their monuments be opened,” reported Susan L. Ruth at the Washington Times, and sure enough, a large group of people (“CNN estimated the amount of attendees in the ‘hundreds,'” charitably recorded Mediaite) “removed the barriers and have entered the monument.” Also, “about 15 tractor trailer trucks from the Ride for the Constitution protest, which took place two days ago, but mostly turned out to be a non-event, have arrived at the memorial protest to lend their support to the veterans.”
Ruth went on: “It has been reported by CNN that some of the protestors have made their way to the White House where they threw barricades aside and got into some pushing and shoving with the police on duty. The police were able to reassemble the barricades and push the protestor back away from the White House gates.” One would have thought, this being a Million Vet March starring the Greatest Generation etc., the group could have easily Taken the Hill and kicked Soetoro out.
Some big rightblogger sites whistled idly and looked the other way, but others told credulous readers that the event had been a great success.
“‘Million Vets March’ in DC proves again barricading memorials an exercise in futility,” said Doug Powers at the Michelle Malkin site. So henceforth, if you see a barricade — excuse us, “Barry-cade” — in D.C, just knock it down and say you’re a veteran; who’s gonna check? (Powers noted a “heavy police presence” at the National Mall, which he apparently thought was a new thing, and added, “that’s just a ‘Rapid Response Barry-cade Reconstruction Team’ and later some of them will be paid overtime to put the barriers back up at the memorials.” These moochers get away with everything!)
Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com expressed outrage that the media was spinning this patriotic display as a mere collection of “TEA PARTY CRAZIES.” For example, said Shapiro, CNN reported that “one speaker went as far as saying the president was a Muslim and separately urged the crowd of hundreds to initiate a peaceful uprising.” It was unfair, Shapiro said, for CNN to focus on “one speaker, Larry Klayman” and to have “tried to lump in former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in with Klayman.” Klayman, by the way, happens to be a frequent contributor to Breitbart.com.
Shapiro also complained that people were getting all worked up just because someone from the protest was waving a Confederate flag in front of the White House. “Media members descended as one on the flagman,” he wrote — so unfair! Next we’ll find out the guy with the Stars and Bars writes for Breitbart, too. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit tweeted that the flag was “Prob a plant. Usually is.” To paraphrase Tom Lehrer: When correctly viewed/everything is skewed.
Glenn Beck’s The Blaze tried to get a little outrage going: “A video posted Sunday at The Blaze,” reported Joe Newby at the Examiner, “shows that for a time, police armed with batons faced off against ‘Million Vet March’ protesters at the White House.” No link, but we think he’s talking about this. It appears none of the vets were gassed and beaten or otherwise treated like, say, Occupy protesters on a good day.
The protests wound down, leaving the brethren demoralized. Some seemed sorry they’d ever heard of a shutdown. When former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka told the press that, had he run for the Senate seat that Barack Obama won in 2004, he “probably would have” won, National Review‘s Jonathan Adler sighed, “Barack Obama would not have become President in 2008, and there would be no government shut down.” We wonder if Hillary Clinton got a laugh out of that.
“House GOP Preparing to Give Up,” headlined RedState honcho Erick Erickson. “John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, and John Cornyn will ensure that Obamacare is fully funded and give the American public no delay like businesses have,” he lamented. “In doing so, they will sow the seeds of a real third party movement that will fully divide the Republican Party.”
But you can’t keep a good apparatchik down, and later Erickson was commanding the troops to “Get Out Your Checkbook NOW” so rock-ribbed rightwing orgs like Heritage Action for America and the Senate Conservatives Fund can primary RINOs and make sure the next time Republicans try this there’ll be no pale pastels nor weeping willies. Next time for sure!
And still later, Erickson had a new cause with which to animate himself. Democrats, apparently emboldened by the public opinion rout the shutdown has brought to the GOP and willing to make demands of their own, were now holding out in the Senate not only for a resumption of government services, but also for an end to the sequestration cuts that Republicans won months ago. A few days earlier, Ross Douthat was talking about the sequestration, rather hopefully, as “as a model (however limited and flawed) for how actual compromise can work” in the shutdown battle; now it seems it’s the Democrats who aren’t in the mood for compromise.
Erickson was having none of it. “Sequestration Is the Bipartisan Law of the Land,” he roared, echoing GOP Senator Rand Paul. “…Democrats ensured the GOP had no seat at the table for Obamacare. So the GOP should hold on sequestration and offer nothing.”
Rightbloggers began to line up. “Dems Push on Reversing Sequester —
Republicans say Democrats now in danger of overreaching as debt ceiling deadline looms,” headlined the Washington Free Beacon. “George Will: Dem Efforts to Break Sequester Will Unite GOP,” headlined National Review.
And so in the nick of time rightbloggers got what they needed — a hill to die on that they haven’t died on yet! And that should get them, and us, through another week, at least.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2013