You really can’t get much better political entertainment than reading the hysterical screams of the New Yorker’s John Cassidy as he laments the rise of Scott Walker as a 2016 presidential candidate.
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.
Cassidy goes on to discover that no, Walker wasn’t actually guilty of a gaffe…
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.
Having cemented his reputation as an economic conservative, Walker is busy making a concerted effort to win over social conservatives and evangelical Christians, some of whom apparently believe that Obama is the Antichrist (or perhaps the Seventh King). Earlier this month, during a trip to London, he refused to say whether he believed in evolution, commenting: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in, one way or the other.” In addition to making that hat tip to the Book of Genesis brigade, Walker has been reiterating his opposition to gay marriage and taking a notably harder line on abortion than he did during his gubernatorial reëlection campaign, last year. In a recent meeting with Iowa Republicans, the Times reported earlier this week, he stressed his support for a “personhood amendment” that would define life as beginning at conception and effectively outlaw the termination of pregnancies.
It’s hilarious stuff and it deserves a full read.
Cassidy is one of the more “open-minded” lefties in the Democrat media. He at least has an inkling that perhaps there are people out there – and interestingly enough, they exist in sizable numbers – who think the Dana Milbank narrative is bovine excrement and have little use for the demands of the Smart Set that everyone capitulate to their narrative.
Walker’s refusal to castigate Giuliani for questioning Obama’s patriotism, and his refusal to join in the Left’s directive to refer to Obama as a “Christian,” are a dog-whistle, you see. He’s courting the craaaaaaazies on the conservative side, and the polls show it’s working.
Because the conservatives are all craaaaaazy. And Walker is smart enough to provide them with craaaaazy-bait.
And Cassidy notes that doing that could get him the nomination. Because the Republican Party is full of craaaaaaazies who think Obama is a Muslim and the earth is only 6,000 years old.
Walker must thus be destroyed.
This would probably be worrisome for those of us who want to see a transformational conservative like Walker (he’s presiding over turning Wisconsin into a right-to-work state this week, after proposing a budget that gave the University of Wisconsin an enormous degree of autonomy and freedom to cut unnecessary costs as it said it wanted, but with a significant budget cut that would force it to eliminate a lot of do-nothing leftists on its payroll), but Walker isn’t some political neophyte. Walker has won three statewide elections in the past four years despite $140 million in union and leftist money spent in an effort to destroy him. One more piece of hate journalism by the cadavers at the New Yorker won’t affect him in the slightest.
But Cassidy does make it clear Walker is the man the Left fears. You can smell it reading his piece.