While the likes of Cornel West, Talib Kweli, Michael Moore, and Mark Ruffalo have all come down to Zuccotti Park in support of Occupy Wall Street, most politicians have been tip-toeing around the mass protest, still trying to figure out what to make of it three weeks after it began. Vice President Joe Biden called it a grassroots political movement yesterday—but added that "there's a lot in common with the Tea Party." And billionaire businessman Mayor Bloomberg agrees.
Bloomberg made the same connection between OWS and the Tea Party yesterday while speaking to reporters. And one thing he pointed out in particular is that both groups are filled with disparate interests and goals: "Yeah, if you listen they don’t seem [to] coalesce about one issue." When asked whether he thought the protests were getting out of hand, Bloomberg got in a crack about the leaderless movement: "I don’t know that there is a way to resolve this. There’s no leadership. One group that’s leading, whatever."
Of course, Bloomberg is also under the impression that OWS is bad for tourism, despite the fact that tourists have been flocking to Zuccotti Park, either to join in or to gawk at protesters. Bloomberg might also be frustrated that he can't personally evict protesters from Zuccotti Park—only the landlords can make that move to bring in police. However, it's worth noting that Bloomberg's longtime live-in girlfriend, Diana Taylor, sits on the board of the company that owns the park, Brookfield Properties.
The OWS/Tea Party connection in the media has been growing so much, Poynter has begun to wonder whether MSNBC has started to give OWS airtime akin to the way Fox News supported the early tea party rallies, "giving credibility to those who argue that the movement could be the left’s tea party." Jon Stewart noted this same phenomenon earlier this week, in a segment in which he compared the 2011 protests with the 2009 birth of the Tea Party, and the media's incredibly different reactions: "So, rage against duly elected government is patriotic—quintessentially American—whereas rage against multi-national shareholder-accountable corporations is anti-American. OK, gotcha," Stewart said
But House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who has long been sympathetic to the Tea Party movement, doesn't see the similarities at all: "I for one am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country," he said in a speech to social conservatives yesterday. While those "growing mobs" have kept Cantor awake at night, the growing mobs of the Tea Party only elicitied "oohs" and "aahs" from him. When asked why he didn't join up with the group, he waxed rhapsodic: “That’s part of the beauty of the tea party movement; it’s organic. And it’s certainly not Washington. So I think it’s better left with the people.”
And another person who sees no connection between the Tea Party and the OWS movement? Bill O'Reilly. That's because he only sees a bunch of anti-American hippies hellbent on destroying this great nation, as he put it in a near temper-tantrum yesterday: “These are the people who burn down the stores...I dont think they’re looking out for anyone but themselves. I think they want to tear this country down, they hate this country, and that goes against everything I believe.”