Some women from Kansas were taking in as much of New York City as they could Wednesday. They hopped on a subway, watched the construction at the World Trade Center site and visited lower Manhattan's newest tourist destination: the park where Occupy Wall Street protesters have camped out for more than a month.
The protest against corporate influence in government and wealth inequality has many of the things tourists look for, including photo-worthy moments and even some trinkets. In this case, the T-shirts and buttons offered by protesters are generally free, though they accept donations.
The double-decker buses offering tours of Manhattan pass by on Broadway, with guides pointing out the park site and tourists - in sunny weather - often waving sympathetically at protesters from the top decks.
There has been much hand-wringing over the question as to whether the movement will be co-opted by... whoever, and the answer is, yes, yes of course it's going to be co-opted. This is America. That is what we do. If a subject gains national attention, which obviously this has, then everyone and their brother with a cause, a t-shirt to sell, an office to run for, or a blog to post to, will be on it.
So what. As long as the core message isn't corrupted, it's all good.
This has changed the national conversation from "deficits" to "income inequality", from "austerity" to "jobs". Just like that. It may even save us from the mistakes that Greece and Britain and others have made, because it's going to be that much harder for Congress to sock it to the little guy now (although they will certainly try and probably succeed). Obama and the Democrats may not have to directly embrace the movement, but they sure better embrace the theme - because it is resonating with just about everyone, and is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom.
As DKos points out, this may be the first protest to "air a positive branding ad". And what could be more American than that?