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12.01.2008 0

“We’re going to have riots”

  • On: 12/11/2008 10:27:58
  • In: Economy
  • By Carter Clews

    He said it without a moment’s hesitation. It was a short, five-word answer to a routine, open-ended question. Yet, it was an answer that was so apolitical, so unexpected, and so profoundly shocking that it left this long-time politico momentarily stunned.

    Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) had just emerged from a press conference on the Big Three bailout. Like Coolidge opined when asked what his minister had said in a sermon on sin, “He was against it.” And, also like Coolidge’s minister, Mr. DeMint had made it clear that regardless of what course others may take, he intended to fight it tooth and nail.

    So, I knew the Senator had taken a strong stand. But just how strong a stand he had taken – and strongly he felt about the consequences of not standing strongly enough – had not occurred to me even in the slightest. Until I met him emerging from the press conference and asked the seemingly innocuous question.

    Mike in hand, camera running, I asked the Senator, “Where do you think the bail-out mania is going to end?”

    Then came the short, rifle-shot response that set me back on my haunches. I have worked with countless thousands of politicians since my earliest days at the Committee to Re-Elect the President (that’s 36 years for those of you hastily flicking digits). And I have never, ever heard a politician respond to a softball question with such a hardball answer. So, let me give it to you straight, just as he gave it to me:

    “We’re going to have riots.”

    That’s it. That’s what the man said. Without hesitation. Without glancing at his aides for a nod of assent. Without pondering long and hard to weigh the impact on the next election or his latest fundraising letter.

    He said it. And he meant it. And before Barack Obama and his Congress of Audacity hold out false hopes to millions of Americans about to be torn asunder by an economic tsunami, somebody up on “The Hill,” or at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, better stop, look, and listen to a solitary man bold enough to utter a single sentence of unvarnished truth.

    Clearly discerning that I was more than a bit taken aback by his blunt assessment, he generously took the time to explain his response. And it was an explanation that did little or nothing to assuage the essential message:

    “Already people are rioting because they’re losing their jobs and somebody else has been bailed out. And the unfairness of it becomes more and more evident as we go along, because the auto companies may be hurting, but there are very few companies that aren’t hurting. And they’re going to hurt.  We don’t have enough money to bail everyone out.”

    Now, I want you to pause and digest that for just a moment. Because, you see, it didn’t come from a fire-and-brimstone preacher out to scare the hell out of a wayward flock. Or from a five-ply demagogue out to garner votes by raising rabble.

    This came from a highly respected U.S. Senator who has a firmly established reputation for calmly telling the truth as he sees it, for putting unwavering principle above political expediency time after time and again. The reliably liberal Washington Post has described him as a “hero” to those “adhering to core conservative principles.” And the equally reliably conservative Examiner newspapers have editorially endorsed him as “an articulate leader.” In short, he has gained well-earned plaudits from across the political spectrum.

    So, when Jim DeMint warns of “riots,” it’s time to knock off the political pandering and posturing and take a long, hard, serious look a rash of hasty, ill-conceived actions that may be inexorably leading the nation into a bloody abyss.

    On November 28, just two short weeks ago, the New York Daily News ran a story about what happens when hopes are falsely raised, then forlornly dashed. It sent a chill up the spines of knowing Americans as it affirmed anew that it can, indeed, happen here:

    “A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an ‘out-of-control’ mob of frenzied shoppers smashed through the Long Island store’s front doors and trampled him, police said.

    “The Black Friday stampede plunged the Valley Stream outlet into chaos, knocking several employees to the ground and sending others scurrying atop vending machines to avoid the horde.

    “When the madness ended, 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour was dead and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.”

    That’s right, Jdimytai Damour died and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured because somebody built up hopes that everyone suddenly realized couldn’t be met. And somewhere off in the far distance, in a time not yet realized, but inching ineluctably forward, the words echoed from a solitary Senator’s mouth:

    “We’re going to have riots.”

    And that’s what happens when the “politics of hope” are cynically dashed.

    Carter Clews is the Executive Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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