Liberals are losing their ever-loving minds over Scott Walker, who at this point isn’t even a likely presidential candidate yet. The national Left hates him with the fury of ten thousand suns for defeating the union bosses of Wisconsin, several times — setting a precedent that could destroy one of the parasitic Democrat Party’s most important sources of cash and power in numerous states. The Washington Post judges that Walker’s reforms have “crippled” Big Labor in Wisconsin. That’s a lot of Democrat Party money laundering that isn’t going to happen any more. The pipeline of cash from taxpayers to public-sector unions to Democrats has been vetoed, and it’s the one pipeline veto they cannot abide.
They’re scared to death of the idea that he’s taken their best shots and shrugged them off, like Leonidas cleaning those Persian arrows off his shield in “300.” It’s even worse because he doesn’t act like Leonidas. He’s firm but pleasant. Remember how the conventional wisdom a few months ago was that Walker had no shot at the presidency because he was boring? Funny how you don’t hear that complaint any more. That’s not because his demeanor has changed. Conservative admirers like to have fun with Walker by depicting him as a warlord out of a Frazetta fantasy painting, seated atop a throne of skulls, but he still looks and sounds more like a librarian than a barbarian.
No, the Left isn’t jeering at Walker as boring any more because he’s mutated into a monster rampaging through their imaginations. The level of venom directed at him during a week of stupid “gotcha” questions and embarrassing partisan media stalking is surprising to normal people because they’ve moved on from Walker’s re-election battles. The people who think it was a good idea to fight those battles by having teachers abandon their classrooms to march through the state capitol with signs comparing Walker to Hitler and deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak haven’t moved on. They’ll never move on.
Remember, they (and by “they” I mean a fair number of Democratic operatives with bylines sitting in newsrooms and TV studios) think Walker survived the recall attempt because the Koch Brothers stole the elections for him. The Left has a great deal of psychic energy invested in the idea that Walker is fundamentally illegitimate. They’ve been saying that ever since Wisconsin’s elected Democrats went AWOL and fled to motels in Illinois to avoid voting on Walker’s bills. Throw in the class snobbery of elite liberals against this decidedly anti-elite candidate — a man whose career disproves everything the Left believes about the virtues of an aristocracy educated, and indoctrinated, at the “right” colleges — and you’ve got a perfect storm of simmering hatred.
The storm broke last week, as Rudy Giuliani’s comments about whether Barack Obama “loves America” at a dinner attended by Walker gave the Left what they saw as a Todd Akin moment to bludgeon the entire Republican field. Either they’d swear loyalty and admiration to the media’s dear love Obama, thus turning off the very large share of the electorate that has come to disapprove of him, or they’d “question Obama’s patriotism” and fall into the media’s trap. Walker confounded them by responding “I don’t know” to the gotcha questions… and the liberal media lost their ever-loving minds.
Case in point: John Cassidy at the New Yorker, who sees Walker as a grim horseman of the Apocalypse, unleashing a screed he conceived during a fever dream where the past week actually hurt the governor of Wisconsin. It didn’t: back in the real world, he’s polling better. However, like global warming, his downfall for daring to be less than enthusiastic about Barack Obama’s love of country and Christian faith is predicted so confidently by the Left’s forecast models that they’ll believe it, no matter how stubbornly it refuses to happen.
Cassidy calls Walker “dangerous” without even bothering to describe the horrors he’ll unleash upon America if the political stars are right in 2016, and Walker emerges from his deathless tomb in dread R’lyeh to cast his shadow of evil across the globe. The entire column is just a primal scream about how awful Walker is for his role in questioning Obama’s character (and, by extension, the character of his faithful elite liberal worshipers) and a frustrated shriek through clenched teeth about how that wascally wabbit from Wisconsin slipped through the “gotcha” trap:
Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.
Set aside, for a moment, his repeated refusal, in the past few days, to say whether he believes that President Obama loves America, or whether he believes that the President is a Christian, and look instead at Walker’s record running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states. Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, he is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who’s turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.
But just how threatening is he? If you’ve been following the political news during the past week, you may well have the impression that he’s stumbling in his campaign for the 2016 G.O.P. nomination. Among the political commentariat, the consensus of opinion is that Walker’s repeated refusal to distance himself from Rudy Giuliani’s incendiary comments about Obama, and his subsequent encounter with the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Robert Costa, during which he appeared to question Obama’s religious faith and took some shots at the media for asking him silly questions, weren’t merely reprehensible: they were serious gaffes that raised questions about Walker’s political abilities.
It wasn’t just liberal columnists who piled on. In a column at the Daily Beast, Matt Lewis, who also writes for the Daily Caller, said that Walker’s comments raised the question of whether he “might not be ready for prime time on the national stage.” Lewis went on: “Conservatives should be worried that Walker hasn’t proven capable of navigating these land mines.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who is a former G.O.P. congressman, wrote at Politico: “Good candidates know how to make dumb questions look, well, dumb.”
Rather than deflecting the reporters’ queries about Obama’s beliefs, as other Republicans had done, Walker used them to send a none-too-subtle message to Republican voters. His refusal to say whether Obama was a Christian wasn’t merely a shot at a hostile media. As Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post noted, it allowed Walker to “wink and nod at the far-right fringe where people really believe that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya who hates America.” Milbank also wrote that Walker was “refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian.”
In a more just world, Walker’s indecent and craven antics would disqualify him from playing any further role in the Presidential race. But in the current political environment, his tactics, far from hurting him, may well bolster a candidacy that is already thriving.
So the spin Cassidy is field-testing here is that Walker’s apparent political victory, after a week of intense media artillery fire, was because he used the opportunity to send dog-whistle messages to racist Obama haters and Jesus-loving hayseeds. But he can’t win, because tax cuts for the wealthy and Koch Brothers and religion and gaaahAAAACKgurgle i love you barack i love you so very much i worship your divine shadow we’re never going to let this bible-thumping dropout beat us…
As you can see from this screed, the Left sees Walker as a proxy for their hatred of you. They despise you taxpaying cretins in flyover country. They think you’re easily manipulated by racist, sexist, and religious code words. They think a cunning devil like Walker might just lead a heartland insurrection against the noble and enlightened Ruling Class.
And they’re right.
The reason last week went so badly for Barack Obama’s media courtiers is that they’ve grossly underestimated how much the American public distrusts them. This was the wrong time for a media with battered credibility to stage a character assault on a likable governor with a proven track record of success, feigning outrage over supposed insults to the character of a President most Americans are tired of. They should have checked Obama’s approval ratings, and their own, before they launched this doomed offensive. The mainstream media doesn’t have anywhere near the prestige it would take to make this goofy “Walker is a coward for refusing to answer our stupid questions about Obama” last-ditch spin work.
Weariness with Obama might be a bigger problem for him than sharp disapproval. Fatigue is a common feature of lame-duck years, but it seems particularly heavy with this fumbling, inept, duplicitous Administration — it’s worse than Bush fatigue was, and that got pretty bad near the end. Obama’s boring, and so is Hillary Clinton, who is even more yesterday’s news than he is. Scott Walker is one of several potential Republican contenders who would be different, and that makes him interesting to the electorate. They might lose interest in him between now and the 2016 election, but it won’t be on the orders of spittle-flecked media liberals screaming in their faces that he’s not worthy of their attention.
Let me be frank with you, befuddled media liberals: a great many Americans have questions about the intensity of Obama’s love for his country, and absolutely no one — most definitely including his ardent supporters — thinks he’s a devout Christian. The alternative isn’t sinister conspiracy-mongering that he’s a closet Muslim saboteur; it’s the entirely logical conclusion that religious faith of any sort takes a back seat to Obama’s ideology and faith in the State. His supporters believe that’s a virtue, and they’re not usually shy about saying so… until a Republican brings it up, at which point they instantly slip into “how DARE you!” mode. It’s especially fun to watch them mock religious faith at the exact same time they castigate Republicans for refusing to testify that Obama is brimming with it.
There is no “gotcha” spring in the mousetrap you think you set for Scott Walker, kids. Nobody’s terribly interested in the liberal elite’s outrage that anyone would dare to question their cultural prejudices, or hold them accountable for the abject failure of their ideas. You’re not going to have much luck convincing normal people that Walker is the monster you think he is. You’re coming dangerously close to admitting to the American people why you hate him so much, and if that happens, you’re not going to like their response.