No, Progressives are Not Afraid of Your Favorite Republican

I’m thinking of starting a list of really dumb journalistic memes that ought to be discarded as we enter another presidential election cycle. Near the top of the list would be one exhibited by conservative blogger Russ Smith (as featured at RealClearPolitics today) in a post entitled “Mainstream Media Scared To Death of Walker.”

Smith begins with a tedious ad hominem attack on Mike Tomasky as a “Democratic National Committee Hack disguised as a reporter/pundit.” How clever. Assuming Smith has no evidence Mike is getting direction from the DNC (but, but….JournoList!), this really just amounts to accusing Tomasky of having a point of view that differs from Smiths, who I am sure on occasion has said things of which the Republican National Committee would approve. But after flailing away with Tomasky’s critique of the emptiness of Scott Walker’s “thinking,” Smith leaps into his mind and exposes his hidden motive:

I think the reason why Tomasky—soon to be followed by less blatantly biased journalists—is bashing Walker as if he’s a joke candidate like Donald Trump, Al Sharpton or Herman Cain, is because if the Governor prevails in the primaries he has a real shot of winning.

Ah yes: Liberal Central perceives Walker as a threat to its secular-socialist conspiracy to enslave Americans, and says to its minions: Bring me the head of Scott Walker!

The really idiotic thing about Smith’s argument is that Tomasky’s whole point was that the rapturous reviews Walker’s been getting lately illustrate the entire GOP’s problem, not Walker’s relative weakness. As it happens, I think Mike misses Walker’s central appeal: it’s pure “electability” unmixed with any need to make ideological concessions to Democrats. It doesn’t require any substance; indeed, “substance” in the sense of offering anything other than less government, more goodies for “job creators,” and hostility to cultural change, is exactly what “the base” does not want. But anyway you slice it, Mike Tomasky’s not terrified of Walker or of any other Republican candidate except for that shadowy figure in his nightmares who is taking the oath of office in January of 2017.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.