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Republicans Attack Elizabeth Warren for Favoring Occupy Wall Street Movement

Republicans think they see an opportunity to tarnish Elizabeth Warren by painting her as on the side of a movement designed to show the support of 99% of all Americans.

Good luck with that!

National Republicans are now attacking Elizabeth Warren for embracing the protests, seeking to make a liability out of the fact that Warren, a longtime critic of Wall Street excess, has now aligned herself with the movement’s intellectual underpinnings. What this means: The conservative effort to turn blue collar whites and independents against the protesters and their broader populist message — exploiting a traditional cultural fault line in our politics — will now unfold in the context of a high profile political campaign.

Warren was asked by the Daily Beast for a comment on the protests. She said: “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I support what they do.”

Now the NRSC has opened fire on Warren for the comments, blasting out an email containing links to stories about protesters in Massachusetts battling with cops. Said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh: “Warren’s decision to not only embrace, but take credit for this movement is notable considering the Boston Police Department was recently forced to arrest at least 141 of her Occupy acolytes in Boston the other day after they threatened to tie up traffic downtown and refused to abide by their protest permit limits.”

Pretty sure that no campaign has been won by attaching the opponent to a failure to abide by protest permit limits. Additionally, people are in the streets and angry for a pretty good reason. They have seen all the benefits of the economy accrue to the rich and all the drawbacks accrue to them and everyone they know. They’ve seen a surge in the poverty rate even in those suburban communities which are supposed to represent the flourishing of the American dream. They see banks and corporations sitting on mounds of cash that they refuse to put to productive use.

The narrative of the 99% movement wasn’t invented. It was forged over decades of evidence of an economy not working for the broad mass of people. And yes, Elizabeth Warren WAS at the intellectual forefront in recognizing that. She wrote the Two-Income Trap, which was mainly about the inability to have a safety valve of a spouse that could be mobilized to work in tough times. She wrote about the damage done through predatory credit card rules and bankruptcy laws. She wrote about financial companies profiting through how much they could trick their own customers. She has every right to claim the mantle for the movement happening in the streets. It may evoke past horrors of hippie-dom to the establishment, but from the vantage point of someone deeply concerned with the middle class it represents, finally, a siren song, a clarion call that the people who’ve been ritually screwed for the last 30 years aren’t going to take it anymore.

I understand that Republicans are just playing the culture war game here, trying to link Warren and the loony left. I don’t know how that will play in, er, Massachusetts. And the world has moved on from the Hard Hat riots and the 1972 campaign. The hard hats have been brutalized just as much as the rest of us in this economy.

By the way, NRSC, those 141 “Occupy acolytes,” and their friends, family members, neighbors, and supporters, may just up and vote against your candidate if you keep demonizing them.

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David Dayen

David Dayen