First of all, from the standpoint of a national elite, the crackdown this week was not particularly urgent. With colder weather coming in, and the headiness of the first victories dying down, the elite might have enjoyed a somewhat calmer winter. This would have been a good time for a natural pause-to-catch-one's-breath for the movement. I've seen it myself in my own local group, whose attendance has leveled off after the first spurt of growth. This is not to cast any aspersions -- it's getting colder, the holidays are coming; it's just a natural pause, not the decline of what will no doubt become a very strong movement.
Eskow connects the fact that the crackdown came now with three events he sees forthcoming. Specifically, he believes (1) the super committee will propose a deal to keep taxes on the rich low by cutting Medicare and Medicaid, (2), that new and bigger "Free Trade Agreements" are coming soon, and (3) that the deal to immunize the big banks for title fraud is about to come down.
I think that points two and three are further out in the future, not imminent. They'll happen, most likely just after the 2012 election. There's no new reason to think them imminent. I agree with Eskow that there's a connection between the raids and the first point, the super committee, and think the situation is dire.
Leon Panetta by Getty Images
The tell -- Leon Panetta's attack upon trigger cuts to DoD allocations indicate that Obama will accept any deal from the super committee, no matter how onerous.
Obama signalled capitulation in the super committee negotiations when he allowed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to rail against any triggered cut of Pentagon spending. Panetta said the trigger cuts would be "devastating" and that the DoD would be at substantial risk of "not meeting our defense needs." One of the key characteristics of this President is to use an aggressive military policy stance to blunt criticism from the right that he is insufficiently "strong." There is, in my opinion, almost no chance that Obama will allow a triggered reduction to include Pentagon spending, because such a reduction would make worthless all his efforts expended to appear "strong." The sequestering of DoD funds was his only leverage upon the super committee (not that anyone following this President would have expected him to use that leverage). Therefore, I believe Obama will accept any last minute deal no matter how hurtful to the middle class, working class, elderly, and poor. As Edward Herman has said, "The Democrats invariably betray their voting base, but not their investor base."
That the attacks against several "occupied" cities were coordinated via a conference call among mayors has been documented by the mayor of Oakland in a radio interview. There is compelling reason to believe that the Federal government was part of that coordination effort. That a key decision affecting as potentially large a political movement as the #occupy movement would not be subject to Presidential review, is in my opinion, unthinkable. I believe that the President was aware of a coordinated effort to evict the occupiers.
If the administration expects the austerity budget to emerge from the super committee to be substantially worse than most of us fear, that would constitute reason enough to attempt to clear the cities of what would be magnets for a protesting, disaffected political base formerly loyal to Obama. Given a week of such protests, more and more of the base would be drawn in. Take away the occupiers' base camps, and those protests would have less of a head start, less momentum. That, I think, explains the effort to remove multiple occupations at this time.
It is with that base of Obama supporters that I wish to point out another connection. Specifically, to those supporters disappointed in Obama yet scared silly of the current Republican boogeyman of the month: Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich... (Wow, Gingrich! Are the Democrats so desperate for someone to scare their supporters that they'd pretend that Gingrich is a viable candidate?).
Take a few million of these Republican-fearing supporters, get them riled up about an austerity program, and then expose them to the #occupy movement. It's a recipe for an Obama loss. And that conversely, is the strength of those "timid" voters. If there is one thing that Obama has shown in the last three years, it's that he'd rather quit than fight. If someone showed that particular group of voters that the people hold the power, that they can make a choice rather than accept a choice, Obama would withdraw from the race by Spring 2012. He is a careerist, as seen in his extraordinary caution throughout his political career. Close the door to further advancement, and like a careerist, he will cash in and run.
And every politician in America would suddenly know deep down that tens of millions of votes are available for the candidate who can best convince a formerly timid group looking for a populist candidate that he will deliver their agenda. And some way would be found to end the austerity program in its infancy, to help that candidate. If Obama does an LBJ, the Democratic party won't let the next guy dangle in the wind like HHH.
There is one and only one group in the U.S. now with the power to stop an austerity program. It is that most timid portion of Obama's base, scared stiff of Republican boogeymen, yet far more powerful than they could imagine themselves to be.
This article originally appeared at scribillare.com.