“Occupy Wall Street are expressing frustrations of middle-class Americans,” she said during a press conference at the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s headquarters on Summer Street. The movement, she implied, was more in touch with average Americans than any of nine GOP presidential candidates.
If it wasn’t exactly an endorsement of the demonstrations — Wasserman Schultz did take pains to note that while most of the Occupy Wall Street protestors were behaving peacefully and appropriately, there were exceptions — it was a profound statement nonetheless, showing just how far apart the parties are on the issue.
Democrats have been increasingly lending their support for the sit-ins, and even President Obama has described the protests as reflecting Americans’ unhappiness with the economy.
The Republicans, in contrast, are virtually united in their disdain. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the protesters “dangerous” last week, and when Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, was asked about the protests, he said, “If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself.” (Although one Republican candidate, Buddy Roemer, the former governor of Louisiana, has embraced Occupy Wall Street, he has not yet been invited to a single debate and doesn’t even garner an asterisk in polls of early states.)
Wasserman Schultz’s appearance was designed to contrast the Democratic agenda and President Obama’s jobs bill against the nine Republican candidates debating tonight in Hanover, N.H., whom she called “interchangeable as Legos.”
But the fact that in the course of criticizing the GOP she ended up praising Occupy Boston does signal major polarization. When protesters who have been arrested by the hundred are considered more mainstream by the head of the Democratic Party than any one of the nine people who will be the Republican nominee for president, it’s a sign, as if any more were needed, of how much the parties are talking past each other.