The public response regarding Syria is quite interesting, and hopefully quite telling. The last time I recall a public stance this strong was regarding the first TARP vote five years ago: of the contacts to Congress, 90% or more were against. And the first Congressional vote was “No.”
I remember: I was watching CNBC at that moment. They had the camera on the trading floor when the “no” vote was announced. The trading floor erupted in cheer. On camera, Maria Bartiromo. Of course, she was not in a euphoric mood. I can still remember her exasperated and pleading voice upon hearing the cheers for the thumbs down vote: “Come on, people.”
Well, they kept voting until they got the “right” answer. It only took a second vote.
Back to Syria. I don’t know what will happen here. Will Obama get his way to murder innocent civilians in one vote, two votes, never? Who knows? But the public outcry is telling. And this despite the mainstream media push for war.
Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal has an Op/Ed column on the subject of Syria. Her comments specifically on point are not important to me. But her afterthoughts are interesting. Remember, this is on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal (jokingly referred to as the “War” Street Journal in the circles I inhabit):
A point on how quickly public opinion has jelled. There is something going on here, a new distance between Washington and America that the Syria debate has forced into focus. The Syria debate isn't, really, a struggle between libertarians and neoconservatives, or left and right, or Democrats and Republicans. That's not its shape. It looks more like a fight between the country and Washington, between the broad American public and Washington's central governing assumptions.
To the extent this is true it is a very significant event. I have always viewed that the reason the elite picked Obama to be president was because he was the most capable of neutering the anti-war movement: more than Hillary, and obviously more than McCain. That certainly seemed to work for five years.
But perhaps now the strategy has backfired. Until now, the wars Obama has been involved in could be blamed on Bush (Iraq, Afghanistan), or (falsely) on events outside of the influence of the US government (Egypt, Libya, etc.). The anti-war left could pacify themselves with this fairy tale. Syria, if Obama decides to kill innocent people, will sit squarely on him. After the isolation of the rest of the world on this, and by various international institutions, this one is completely on the big “O.” Perhaps even the left has decided it cannot ignore the significance of this.
Is it possible that the entire left/right debate is exploding: it is us against them? The people against Washington? I must mention that I first saw reference to this possibility in a comment at EPJ – a comment to one of my posts that Mr. Wenzel graciously published at his site. The comment is by Anonymous, on September 7, 2013 at 3:01 PM.
Even more: does this quick jelling of public opinion – against the press of the mainstream media – demonstrate the incessant work of the internet?
I have always struggled with the reality that the elite has countless billions of dollars to spend on forming public opinion and narrative; those of us pecking away part-time at our keyboards in obscurity had no such resources at our disposal.
How could we ever beat people who got paid very well, worked full-time, and had unlimited access to channels of influence? My hope was in and remains in the truth of human action and markets – the division of labor and free markets in ideas would eventually beat the centrally-planned narrative.
But perhaps Ms. Noonan has hit on something. Eventually perhaps, like the dam scene in Force Ten From Navarone, the small explosion does tremendous damage. In this case, damage to the establishment….
God willing. And God bless and protect the innocent in Syria from further calamity.