- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2011

In 2009, where Democrats saw an unruly mob, Republicans saw patriotism.

In 2011, where Republicans see an unruly mob, Democrats see patriotism.

That was the “tea party.” This is the “Occupy” movement.

Reaction to the “OccupyWall Street” protests, which have now spread to Washington and other American cities, broke down along party lines Sunday, with Democrats voicing support for the movement and some Republicans painting the demonstrators as anti-capitalist agitators backed by big labor, anti-war groups and other liberal activists.

Since the tea party’s birth in 2009, conservative lawmakers, candidates and pundits have praised it as the natural reaction to an unprecedented explosion of government spending and federal regulation on a litany of issues including health care. Democrats and many of their liberal allies in the media, however, have often painted tea party members as “racists” and “bigots” who oppose President Obama’s every move simply because he’s black.

Lauren Bieber and Mike Mull, both from Philadelphia, sit next to a haiku they wrote on the sidewalk near City Hall on Sunday in Philadelphia. Organizers of what is being called Occupy Philadelphia say the demonstration is meant to be a stand against corporate greed. (Associated Press)
Lauren Bieber and Mike Mull, both from Philadelphia, sit next to a ... more >

While the two movements are backed by opposite ends of the political spectrum, each party reciting the other’s talking points from two years ago, some see similarities between them.

The “core” grievance of the Occupy protesters “is that the bargain has been breached with the American people. There’s a lot in common with the tea party,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden said last week, citing the anger of both the tea party and the OccupyWall Street crowd toward federal bailouts of banks and other financial institutions.

Despite those perceived similarities, Democrats continue to have harsh words for the tea party. Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, last month said the group and its backers in Congress “can go straight to hell.”

While no Republican has told the Occupy crowd to go to hell, many Republicans are pushing back against the movement, which over the weekend staged a protest that shut down the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia recently described the protesters as “a mob,” and said he’s troubled that elected Democrats are actively supporting them.

Democrats are now accusing Mr. Cantor and others of blatant hypocrisy.

“I didn’t hear him saying anything when the tea party was out demonstrating, actually spitting on members of Congress right here in the Capitol,” House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said on Sunday’s “This Week” talk show on ABC.

The former House speaker was referring to an incident in March 2010, when, at the height of the health care debate, tea party protesters were accused of spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat. They were also accused of hurling homosexual slurs at openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, and racial epithets at several black members of Congress.

Tea party leaders have both fiercely condemned such language and denied some of the specific charges. Conservative lawmakers have often followed suit, stressing that there’s no room for racism in the movement.

Republicans now want Democrats to similarly condemn the actions of the Occupy movement, which has been accused based on some of its demands — for example, total forgiveness of all debts worldwide — of being motivated by a hatred of U.S. capitalism.

“It’s anti-American because to protest Wall Street and the bankers is basically saying you’re anti-capitalism,” said businessman Herman Cain, now one of the front-runners for the GOP presidential nomination, on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” program.

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