Crowd Control
09-14-2009
There has been a rather entertaining debate raging for the past 48 hours over the actual size of the crowd attending a big anti-Obama rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. It is indicative of the remarkable ideological polarization affecting our country, in which the two sides seem to largely function in alternate political realities. Progressives have settled on a figure of 60,000 for Saturday’s crowd, while conservatives have floated the figure of two million strong. If you saw pictures of the rally (and have ever attended any public event on the Mall), you will know immediately that the latter estimate is a fanciful one. Some conservatives have backed away from that number, but my guess is they won’t settle for anything less than a crowd count of several hundred thousand.
 
Why such a feverish debate over crowd size? Because Democrats have gone to great lengths to caricature the conservative opposition to President Obama’s agenda as being comprised of a small group of disgruntled right-wingers who have used the endless looping of viral town hall videos on the web and cable news to project a grassroots movement that appears much larger than its actual modest size.
 
Republicans view a large turnout this past weekend as indicative of a wave of anti-Obama sentiment that is rising across the country. The policy stakes are high, as the side with the winning political narrative is likely to have the greater impact on public opinion, and on the institutional elites in Congress who will watch its fluctuations ever so closely before they vote on health care, cap and trade, and other future Obama agenda items.


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