* Forget the deflated tents. Occupy Wall Street has already accomplished an important objective:
Whatever happens to the Occupy Wall Street movement — now that cops swept protesters out of their headquarters in a surprise early morning raid — let’s not allow ourselves to forget that it has already accomplished a key objective. The protests have helped inspire the most serious and sustained national conversation about inequality we’ve seen in a long time, and refocused our politics on economic fairness and elite lack of accountability, in ways that are already reshaping assumptions about the upcoming elections and could perhaps even contain the seeds of longer-term change.
This conversation is something that our elected leaders — who had spent months and months debating a set of priorities that were almost surreally detached from the concerns of the public — were utterly incapable, or unwilling, to initiate on their own. For all their excesses, the much-maligned protesters managed to highlight a set of anxieties, a general critique of what’s gone wrong, and a dissatisfaction with our political system’s failure to address inequity and Wall Street excess that are broadly supported by the public and are thorougly mainstream in nature. Absent a set of concrete goals, the movement may end up fizzling, but that accomplishment alone could prove a lasting legacy. The broader conversation is only getting started.
* What happened this morning: National Memo has a good on-the-scene account of the surprise early morning raid that swept the protesters out of the park, including this key detail:
The unexpected raid was accompanied by an attempted media blackout, as the police prohibited reporters (including those with press passes) from going to the park, closed the subways leading to downtown Manhattan, and even prevented news helicopters from flying in the airspace over the park.
* Reporter roughed up by cops: New York Times writer Brian Stelter reports that he was with a New York Post reporter who claimed to have been roughed up by riot police, and says the violence was “completely deliberate.”
One wonders if the New York Post — which has gone to extraordinary lengths to elevate the protests’ extremes to discredit the entire movement — will put this one on its front page, too.
* Protesters reconvene in new location: Here’s some good reporting from on the ground in Foley Square, where the protesters are weighing their next moves and vowing that the raid will only stiffen their resolve to continue.
* Republicans seize on today’s raid to slam Elizabeth Warren: As Think Progress notes, the NRSC is already trying to exploit this morning’s events, with a spokesman repeatedly claiming on Twitter that cops are battling with Elizabeth Warren’s “acolytes.”
Has anyone asked Scott Brown — last seen suddenly supporting Obama’s nomination for the consumer protection board Warren built — whether he agrees with the NRSC’s and Crossroads GPS’s depictions of the protests and whether he agrees with OWS’s goals?
* Judge issues temporary restraining order: It’s here, though the legal and practical implications are still unclear.
* Rove’s Crossroads continues flooding airwaves with falsehoods: Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler demolishes the latest Crossroads ad for (yet again) using that snippet of a Bill Clinton interview to falsely imply that Clinton and Obama differ on spending and taxes.
Of course, this won’t matter in the least: Crossroads will likely air this exact Clinton snippet again countless times in the coming months. More broadly, beyond a few fact checkers, few if any media figures will raise an eyebrow even as Crossroads floods our airwaves with millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of falsehoods from now until Election Day 2012.
* Obama continues striking delicate balance on economy: Obama, at a fundraiser last night:
“These problems didn’t happen overnight, and the truth is they won’t be solved overnight,” Obama said yesterday at a Hawaii fundraiser. “It’s going to take a few more years to meet the challenges that have been a decade in the making,” the president added. “And I think the American people understand that.”
As I’ve been saying, one of Obama’s key reelection challenges is to persuade voters of the scale of the challenges he faces without giving Republicans an opening to claim he’s trying to duck responsibility for what happened on his watch.
* In GOP primary, it’s still anybody’s race: A new Bloomberg poll finds that Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are in a dead heat in Iowa. As Taegan Goddard notes, the key finding is that an astonishing 60 percent say they could still back someone other than their top choice, underscoring the race’s remarkable fluidity, as well as GOP primary voters’ unwillingness to coalesce around any of the contenders.
* Health care a major vulnerability for Romney in Iowa: Pundits constantly claim that Romney has defused Romneycare’s individual mandate as a liability, but the Bloomberg poll contradicts this:
More than half 00 58 percent — of likely caucus participants said support of such a mandate would “rule out” their backing.
* Labor victory in Ohio is bad news for GOP: The Weekly Standard’s Henry Olsen takes an interesting look inside the numbers and concludes that Ohio’s labor victory suggests that white working class voters are parting ways with the conservative base in a way that could create serious problems for the GOP nominee in 2012.
The outstanding question is whether the GOP’s overreach in 2010 — which may have persuaded blue collar whites to give Democrats and labor a second look — will translate into Dem success in bringing these voters back into the fold during a presidential year.
* And pressure mounts on Major League Baseball to drop Glenn Beck: The labor-backed Americans United for Change is airing a new radio ad in Milwaukee, timed to the meeting of owners of Major League Baseball teams, calling on MLB’s digital media arm to drop its plans to stream the “hate-mongering radio personality’s shows on line.
It’s the latest effort to snuff out the oxygen for Beck’s new venture as he tries to take his act online.
What else is happening?