Good Work, Folks

Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA

Despite the death of militant leader LaVoy Finicum, it is well worth stepping back to take stock of what the FBI managed to accomplish here, especially after what was often or often seemed to be a very drawn out process of seeing a clique of violent and entitled yahoos thumbing their noses at the law with impunity. The FBI video showed pretty clearly that Finicum essentially forced Oregon State Police to shoot him. At all the other key points, the FBI and local law enforcement managed to de-escalate confrontations and end the entire siege not only with no loss of life but not even any violence.

The other big news today is that they essentially managed to lure Cliven Bundy off the ranch and up to Portland where they took him into custody to answer for the 2014 clown show that was the prologue to this tragicomic spectacle.

The Finicum video was genuinely painful to watch, as any video of a man’s death should be, no less when the result of his own folly and stupidity. But I confess that I would love to see video of Bundy being met at the airport – conveniently having passed through a magnetometer and thus unarmed – by federal law enforcement. I would truly give money to see the look on his face when he realized what was happening.

The biggest success in a way is not so much the message of restraint (which is not always an unalloyed positive) but the way the progress of the standoff, I would say, did very little for the ‘brand’ of the militants. I am under no illusion that I see this drama as members of their target audience might. Nor do I doubt that a small ‘Remember LaVoy’ cult will spring up. But on balance, I think there’s little question the occupiers came off like jackasses and often more than vaguely ridiculous. I suspect the generally negative or hapless impression would have been shared even among many who might be inclined to be sympathetic. The FBI gave these bozos plenty of rope and they mostly got the result they wanted.