George Will’s bad habit

GEORGE WILL’S BAD HABIT…. Over the last several months, George Will has written a series of columns about some of the most extreme politicians in Republican politics. In each instance, he seems to go out of his way to ignore what makes them radical, and offers an implicit defense of each.

Last fall, for example, Will had a column about Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), following a series of humiliating moments for the unhinged Minnesota Republican. Instead of highlighting Bachmann as one of Congress’ more painful embarrassments, Will was impressed with her, writing, “Some of her supposed excesses are, however, not merely defensible, they are admirable.” (His examples were baseless.)

A few months ago, Will was at it again, defending Nevada’s Sharron Angle (R). The conservative columnist was slightly derisive of Angle’s campaign organization — he called it “unready for prime time” — but was untroubled by the candidate’s record of radicalism. (The column was fairly characterized as “rank intellectual dishonesty.”)

Today, Will turns his attention to Ken Buck, the Republican Senate hopeful in Colorado, and one of the year’s more radical statewide candidates. After praising Buck’s background — he apparently worked blue-collar jobs while getting a degree at Princeton — and noting Buck’s tryout as a punter for the New York Giants, Will soft pedals the qualities that make Buck so contentious.

Buck identifies with candidates such as Rubio, Paul and Pat Toomey (former congressman, now Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania). An admirer of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Buck would start over on health-care reform, stressing health savings accounts, medical malpractice tort reform and portability of insurance coverage. […]

Coloradans, Buck says, now are “50-50 about Obama” but “80-20 against Washington.” His one campaign stumble may actually have helped him. It occurred after an event where someone questioned whether Obama is an American citizen. Speaking within range of a tape recorder belonging to a Democratic worker who was following Buck around, Buck laughingly said to someone, “Will you tell those dumb asses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I’m on the camera?”

Reading this, one may be led to believe Buck is somehow at odds with Tea Partiers, and is a mainstream candidate. But that’s just not the case. Buck’s “one campaign stumble” came, not because he’s dismissive of birther nonsense, but because he doesn’t want to get caught talking about the issue. Indeed, Buck told supporters in June, “If you’re asking me, the answer is yes. I would support legislation that would require a birth certificate and you know the other things…. I think that is fair legislation and common sense legislation.”

Just as importantly, if we’re looking for actual “stumbles,” Will might have mentioned instances in which Buck said he wants to privatize Social Security, suggested Social Security itself might be unconstitutional, called for the end of the Department of Education, spoke out against student loans to help families send kids to college, talked about banning forms of birth control, and calling for the elimination of abortion rights, even in cases of rape or incest

Did Will not notice any of this?