The mainstream media continues to spin last night’s victory for Scott Walker in Wisconsin’s recall election as a win for President Barack Obama–either because faulty exit polls showed him ahead of presidential challenger Mitt Romney, or because he didn’t expend political capital campaigning for the recall effort. One of the worst examples was the Chicago Sun-Times, which declared Obama “beyond recall” in a front-page banner headline.
The article inside, by confirmed Obama fan Lynn Sweet, concluded that Obama’s absence from Wisconsin proved he has more appeal to independent voters than Romney. Yet Romney, also, stayed away from the recall–so why should the same conclusion not apply to him? Sweet does not explain. She simply seizes–like many of her mainstream media colleagues–on the kinds of faulty exit polls that vastly inflated Barrett’s chances. Organized labor lost, she admits–but not Obama, who is simply a better candidate than Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.
Let that sink in for a minute. If–and it’s a big if–Obama is really vastly more popular than Barrett in Wisconsin, then he had absolutely no business staying out of Wisconsin. He could have helped; he didn’t, and his union supporters aren’t likely to forget that. Obama cannot win in November without his party and his base–not in Wisconsin, and not in many of the swing states he must capture or defend in order to reach 270 electoral votes.
If there is a Democratic winner to be found, it is Bill Clinton–and Hillary, whom he is widely believed to be encouraging to run for president again in 2016. Bill campaigned for Barrett when all seemed lost, earning back some of the respect that the left had denied him during and after his presidency. And the fact that the left wing of the party lost its most important battle in generations is a vindication of his centrist, “New Democrat” strategy.
But the actual winner–aside from Walker–was Mitt Romney, who risked nothing and gained everything in Wisconsin last night. He will now feel more free to drive a straight-talk message of tight budgets and free markets. Moreover, the coalition of Tea Party activists and Republican establishment institutions that came together to win is exactly what Romney will need to achieve victory in the fall. After a bruising primary, Romney needed the party to heal, and unite. It has done so, even as new cracks appear in Obama’s base.
That’s the story the mainstream media aren’t telling yet. They are still invested in the Obama cult of personality–one that its readers, viewers and listeners aren’t buying, and aren’t interested in indulging beyond November.