Corporate Consensus-Think and Scott Walker.

Conventional wisdom says Scott Walker will survive is recall election today by about four points. And that … this will have a momentary energizing effect on Republican hyper-partisans from coast to coast …and create in Scott Walker another of the party’s instant ideological heroes — along the lines of Herman Cain. Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and a handful of others who appeared at first glance to embody everything the new conservative movement regards as right, just and fiscally prudent.

The post-mortem on the union/Democrat loss of this election will focus on the weaker turn out among the anti-Walker forces, the lack of a full-bodied commitment on the part of the national Democrats, Barack Obama’s distance from the fray and … I can hope … the puzzling attitude among certain institutions who viewed the whole recall idea as misguided and inappropriate. Nothing represents this attitude better than the Star Tribune’s Sunday editorial, titled, “Wrongheaded recall divides Wisconsin”. And yes, please note the phrasing of the headline.

It was the recall, not Scott Walker’s policies that divided Wisconsin. I wish I could laugh.

The cliche at moments like this is to huff that, “No one reads papers anymore. Who cares what editorials say.” But that “no one” doesn’t include most people who care enough about important, relevant issues … and therefore read newspapers and blogs and involve themselves in the debates of the day.

The Strib says at one point, “Although we disagree with Walker on bargaining rights and other issues, this is not an endorsement of either candidate in the Wisconsin race. Rather, it’s a rejection of a recall system that should be used to remove corrupt officeholders — not to protest legislation passed by elected representatives.

Except of course in Wisconsin “should be used” is actually “can be used”, which means that if you do something that so royally pisses off 930,000 eligible voters you do run the risk of a recall election. What both the Strib and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which endorsed Walker in 2010 and again here in 2012 prefer to gloss over is that Walker never mentioned his intention of moving on collective bargaining rights at any time in his campaign. He has flat-out lied that he did, but has never produced a record of doing so in public, where a voter might hear him.

Imagine for a moment a scenario where a liberal candidate spends a year or more running for election, chatting up editorial boards and slapping backs at main street cafes and then upon winning election announces — out of the blue – a full court press for hefty tax increases on upper income voters. He never mentioned anything about it during the campaign … but he has the votes and rams it through. Would the editorial board be as sanguine? Would the phrase “gross abuse of power” be in regular, prominent use once the parties most effected staged their uprising?

The sad fact with most editorial boards is that their default position is something close to corporate-consensus libertarian. Their business model, and the bubble culture they live in, must be inordinately responsive to established business interests, very few of whom care much about collective bargaining or $8000/year pay cuts for middle class government employees. If those employees, most with college educations and professional training, are reduced to the level of less educated/trained private sector workers … all the better. A libertarian world is by definition a Darwinian place.

Also, and this is one of my favorite perspectives, the tweedy world of middle-brow newspaper editorial boards requires a mindset that only recognizes radical behavior among the unwashed — the Occupy kids and your occasional neo-Nazi. Everything else is politics as normal. There are no alarming insurgencies in American politics. Hence the institutional reluctance to describe a phenomenon like Michele Bachmann as “radical”, or “reckless”, or “absurd”. Ditto just about any manifestation of the Tea Party.

To a mainstream, corporate consensus editorial board there is no upside to acknowledging anything radical –much less taking a principled stand against — a major party politician gaming the election process (lack of disclosure of a primary legislative goal) that favorably impacts vested interests.

With Walker safely reaffirmed, we’ll be interested in the consensus attitude toward his nagging “John Doe” scandal.

 

38 Responses

  1. Re: “Imagine for a moment a scenario where a liberal candidate…never mentioned anything about it during the campaign”

    Obama and individual health insurance mandate? He not only didn’t campaign for it before he made it his #1 legislative push, he campaigned against it.

    • Right Oh. Joe nails it.

      • ..though this is where we differ, Erik. I’m fine with Obama doing that. I don’t think it’s sinister.

        I don’t think either Walker or Obama should be recalled based on a policy disagreement like this. We have regularly scheduled elections to resolve policy disagreements. Recall elections should be reserved pretty much for removing proven criminals.

      • I dont think its sinister either. It’s merely an equivalent example.

    • Joe: Are you saying that Obama made the individual mandate his #1 legislative push? Health insurance reform, yes. But the mandate? My recollection is that he pretty much backed into that. Kind of a different scenario than having a fully formed agenda ready to unleash — with votes — right out of the gate.

      • He made this his top priority – universal coverage + limits on preexisting conditions. There are two ways to get there, and this is no small detail, either through expanding government run health care or through a private insurance mandate. He campaigned for the former, but governed with the latter.

        Obama did this because of congressional votes, which is why I have no problem with it. Walker’s union busting was more about political ambushing than legislative compromise, but then run against him on that basis, in the regularly scheduled election. The downsides of mid-term recalls driven only by policy disagreements are just too big.

      • Similar to trying to govern thru ballot initiatives…right, Joe?

      • The essential quality here is how egregious do you find the offense? I think California’s — repeatedly abused — referendum process has proven to be an unqualified disaster. Wisconsin has not repeatedly abused that process, and 930,000 people did see a point to calling Walker out for a gross violation — or “gaming” of the process. I sincerely doubt they’ll be going back to this well willy-nilly. But they correctly see in Walker a uniquely noxious exercise/overreach of authority.

  2. A governor’s signature on a bill passed by a legislative majority is “a uniquely noxious exercise/overreach of authority,” after he campaigned and was elected on this agenda?

    In Realityville (the town Brian never visits) it’s called the democratic process.

    CNN is now projecting Walker in a landslide.

    • Newt: Since Walker himself has had such a hard time proving he ever mentioned attacking collective bargaining during his campaign, why don’t you do your boy a favor and cite the moment for him, chapter and date?

      • Lambo,

        What new self awareness and journalistic restraint took hold such that you didn’t copy the Walker lovechild story onto the Glean straight from some moonbat web site?

    • After the liberal smack-down in WI tonight, MN conservatives are waiting to see if Zellers and Senjem will suddenly sprout testicles or at least a few vertebrae. The must believe in something, although it’s impossible to tell.

  3. Lambo – The Strib thought the recall was a bad idea because they knew Walker would win. But that’s perhaps a bit of an oversimplification. Even as an ostensibly liberal institution, the tweedies there understand the astringent liberal misanthropy that drove the recall effort is really unpalatable to normal people. Looking forward to tomorrows Glean. No doubt there will be numerous links to kook lefty WI websites claiming voter suppression.

  4. Even with 117% voter turnout in Madison, the people’s will was re-affirmed. Now the liberal death threats against Walker have started. Dems express hate and anger over special interest money, as if unions are not a special interest, and never mind that Obama outspent McCain 3:1 in 2008.

  5. As noted a while back, I’ve migrated my strictly political stuff (i.e unrelated to communications) to another site. For what it’s worth, a couple post-mortem posts on this subject — Why DFLers should be happy Walker won and Did Walker win, or recalls lose?

  6. Hey… I’m noodling the idea that politics and parties can be analyzed in terms of ‘overreach’. Has anyone ever thought about it in those terms? Because I’m thinking it’s accurate to say Wisconsin’s kook libs “overreached” when they went all in for Walker’s recall.

    • Erik is right. But liberals’ overreach was best manifested in the hords of unwashed militant mercenaries bussed into Madison. That revulsive spectacle at the Capitol fueled Walker’s victory. But tone-deaf libs mistook the Madison freak show as political momentum, and thus their dismay last night.

      Joe – leave your political stuff in this blog, please.

    • Well, hindsight is 20/20…

      So, yes, I’d say it was over- reach (as a general observation).

      To a more specific mistake that walker opponents made–if they were really trying to defeat walker, they should have been able to agree on a candidate without having a primary. That certainly hurt them a lot, maybe even enough to cause the loss. To the extent that the recall was simply an anti-Walker thing (born of frustration/hatred/etc.) as opposed to offering a constructive alternative vision for the state, you could easily accuse the organizers of being short sighted as well.

      But again, Monday morning quarterbacking is always the easiest kind (which is why i have no respect for sports analysts at all).

  7. The biggest political problem the left has is that it confuses anger, attacks and insults with persuasion. You see it in the 99 percenters. We saw it again in Madison. Chris Matthews and Paul Krugman can’t stop themselves.

    All it does is drive people away.

    Time for a new playbook.

    • I don’t know, Newt–that sounds a little bit like projection to me. After all, wasn’t it you who was pointing out how good union/public sector workers have it in relationship to non-unionized private sector workers? Wasn’t one of the defining aspects of the WI vote the resentment that Walker was able to focus on state unionized employees–they are the ones objecting to paying 5% more for their pensions when private sector people are losing their entire pensions? not to mention being lucky to have jobs at all?

      As i listened to the WI arguments, that seemed to me to be the focus of those opposed to the unions and their roles–resentment.

      Granted, in the recall fight, the unions equalized the playing field–they got down to the lowest common denominator too.

      But I have to say that the people who really use that particular tactic are not the Krugmans, but more likely the Glenn Becks, the Bill O’Reilly’s, the Hannity’s, the Allan West’s of the world. This is a classic talk radio approach to politics.

      And, frankly, it is the approach that Mitt Romney seems to use much more than, say, Obama. If you want to seem some interesting support for this, look at:

      http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/06/obamas-positive-campaign.html

      to see who is going negative in the campaign so far.

      And, if you want to see who is really using the big lie technique, see:

      http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/06/politifact-politifact-who-is-the-truthiest-of-them-all.html

  8. I’m willing to revisit a lot of the old progressive (c.1912) standbys like recall, initiative and referendum, particularly in the age of Citizens United, but the time to do that is not when a campaign is going on. I’m curious what the strib editorial board will say if the John Doe investigation shoe drops and Russell rolls over on Walker. We may discover again for the umpteenth time that being prematurely right is less fashionable than being wrong.

    If I did the math right the Republicans spent about $34 a vote for Walker; scale that to a presidential election and it come out to about $2.4 billion and that’s without the down ballot contests. Given the number of deranged billionaires, who unfortunately are not being taxed to death, they may be able to come up with it. It’s a pity there isn’t enough disclosure to find out what the quid pro quo is. Does Sheldon Adelman get to control Middle East foreign policy? I’m used to the practice of cushy ambassadorships getting auctioned off to big donors, but a guy dropping tens of millions presumably must be asking for something bigger.

  9. I think I can at least understand the scholastic underpinnings of Lambo’s idea that the Strib should sympathize less with the bourgeois and more with the proletariat. But is the Strib really first inline for blame here when the Obama administration and mainstream center-left also withholds their endorsement of the kook left?

    And with that lack of endorsement, isn’t it logical at that point to cast a skeptical eye towards the kook left itself? The thing is, the progressive movement is a group project. Inasmuch as it’s a decades long effort to bring about [dystopian] egalitarianism without bloody revolution, you need credibility to be able to sell that. And for credibility, you need the appearance of rationality and sanity.

    Its really not a mystery why Obama administration or the Strib for that matter can’t align themselves with raving lunatics.

  10. The 7:1 spending advantage liberals and the partisan media are throwing around is a complete and deliberate lie. Factoring in unions’ expenditures, Barrett (and the unions) spent a combined $25 million to Walker’s $30 million.

    Citizens United is the great equalizer among special interests, and it burns liberals’ asses.

  11. I know here at SRC we all love the conservative apostates. Here’s a liberal one.

    He’s not all the way there yet. But he’s recognized liberalism’s prevailing bigotry and kookiness. Lambo: maybe he can give you the name of his therapist.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/magazine/liberals-are-ruining-america-i-know-because-i-am-one.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

    • Well, he’s really not a liberal apostate–he was a liberal, and remains a liberal. He just disagrees with the methods of other liberals. He feels that they are spending too much time engaging with the lunatic right wing, and thus giving them credibility.

      He is not repudiating liberalism at all, he is not saying that liberal spokespeople are hucksters out to make a buck, corrupt individuals who willfully decieve their followers, etc. He remains a liberal thru and thru.

      I am not, of course, asserting that there are no liberal apostates–there certainly are. David Horowitz would be perhaps the most prominent example that comes to my mind. But this guy is no David Horowitz

      • You’re right. I’m guilty of some overstatement there.

        What he has done though is put his finger on this lunatic moral certitude that afflicts liberals. He also owns up to their garden variety bigotry. You might say these admissions are crimes of apostasy.

      • PM: I saw that piece, and I have to say it is filled with earnest leaps of wishful delusion and macro logic. Like a lot of liberals (and moderates) the poor guy is tired of the lunatic level of conflict. And while I’m all for everyone taking a chill pill and getting back in touch with their spiritual core, if they still have one, merely asserting that Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest are nothing more than culture war profiteers avoids what for me at least is a constant question as I talk with neighbors, or overhear conversations at gas stations — namely, “where are they getting this shit?”. Jon Stewart and Colbert are making a nice living … doing what the institutional news media is supposed to be doing — separating out the truth from the demagoguery and cynical spin. As you may have noticed, for me the core issue/phenomena of this era is how moderate, reasonably intelligent conservatives have allowed themselves to be co-opted by a movement (funded largely by forces far FAR more influential than its rabbly base) that is all greivance-based partisan attack and almost no intellectual depth or honesty. … and it may prove successful for them, again.

      • Where do “they” get this shit? You believe Oswald was innocent, right Lambo?

      • Brian:

        I tend to agree with you on the grievance/resentment aspect of the opposition to Obama. What amazes me is that those who are feeling hurt focus their ire on public sector unions instead of Bain or banks or Wall Street.

        Is it as simple as Joe Klein portrays it, or was the post Depression/WWII era that he alludes to a historically unique, never to be replicated period in our history? Maybe the norm is the sort of culturally and politically divided country that we are now experiencing, and our “golden age” of growing up in the 50′s and 60′s was the abberation. Wouldn’t be the first time we boomers have suffered from myopia.

        Maybe we should simply embrace our inner Al Frankens and get over it.

      • PM: The “greivance agenda” of the new conservative crowd,isn’t just Obama. It really is fundamentally a Culture War, don’t you think? The angriest and most hostile are almost always experiencing a form of “Future Shock”. Too many choices. Too many changes required. Too many decisions, too fast. They are overwhelmed by the world and feel marginalized in an economy that no longer grants white, male Americans a couple furlongs head start. They are afraid and desperate for a semblance of respect. Fortunately for them/unfortunately for everyone else, they now have a media that speaks for them.

        There is an interesting, sociological chicken/egg question therein: Namely, was it because they were always such sour, turds-in-the-punchbowl that they were shunned by reasonable society … and thereby accumulated such a long, festering list of grievances? Or did the cruel antipathies of moderates and lefties force them into their aggrieved, nearly senseless caterwauling?

      • And another interesting angle–it used to be that the biggest criticism that the Right made of the Left (at least in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s) was that the Left spent so much time wallowing in “victimhood”–minorities were the victims of racism, of whitey, women the victims of men, etc.

        Now the roles seem to be reversed, and we have older white males with a sense of victimhood. Is it that the Right has decided that if you can’t beat them, then join them? It just seems to be a really odd reversal to me.

      • Clearly a part of this phenomena is that of the “shifting baseline”–we are limited in our imagination to what we have actually experienced, and every generation creates its own references.

        Frankly, for a long time we (the baby boomers) have dominated thought, culture and politics. That is just beginning to shift and change now, and I think that a lot of our cohort resents this–plenty of my friends resent rap music, for instance (sort of the way our parents resented Elvis Presley).

        But the point is that what we experienced in our childhood is what we think is “natural”, the norm, when, in fact, it was revolutionary–at least back in our childhood it was.

        This article is really interesting because it discusses this phenomena in terms of the environment, with examples of things like what fisheries used to be like (lobsters and oysters were so plentiful they were the food of the poor, not delicacies at all): http://motherboard.vice.com/2012/6/7/how-our-disinterest-in-the-environment-signals-the-end-of-nature–2?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+psm-articles%2Ffeed+%28Per+Square+Mile%29

        So, we bemoan the lost civility of past political debates when that civility was probably pretty bizarre, rather than normal. We aspire to a state of nature (thinking it was eternal and ever thus) when it was only a brief moment. Simply put, we are ill equipped to understand change–shackled by a finite time span.

      • The “grievance” agenda has quite an interesting media component. I doubt that the aggrieved base would have come up with the notion that complaining about multi-millionaires paying 13% effective tax rates (or none at all) was “class warfare”. Point being the grievance engine supplies complaints that keeps the inchoate fear crowd topped off with enemies and worries … but not so many solutions … other than tax cuts for job creators.

        And it’s a good point that fear-mongering is hardly new. Human memory is a notoriously unreliable thing.

        Personally, I’m constantly amazed — when you start getting in to environmental issues, where otherwise rational “conservatives” have also forfeited their right to (more) fair hearings by protecting the scientific illiteracy of the grievance engine — how infrequently you read/hear references to population growth in our lifetimes. Having a dumb fascination with that kind of thing/and having accumulated enough years I’m fascinated by what a doubling of the population of the United States — in my lifetime — has done to places I remember.

        They ain’t growing that many more lobsters.

      • To have embraced Paul Ehrlich is not to have attained scientifical literacy, Lambo. Ehrlich is a kook. FAIL, big fella. It follows that as a nutjob neo-Luddite and Malthusian you’d have to be deluded or obtuse to be able to pat yourself on the back for being “pro science”.

        They’re not growing more lobsters, but they’re growing more wheat. Read up on Norman Borlaug.

        I do agree with both of you that the Boomers are retrograde has-beens.

      • Erik:

        Yes, Ehrich’s yesterday’s newspapers. It’s laughable to think that he was who inspired Oregon GOP Senator, Bob Packwood to be pro-choice for fear of over population here in the U.S. But, it’s also worth taking a more nuanced look at the legacy of Norman Borlaug: http://grist.org/article/2009-09-14-thoughts-on-the-legacy-of-norman-borlaug/

      • This is where you people’s ability to see nuance does not in fact speak to some mental agility and intelligence. Rather, it speaks to a cognitive paralysis. It speaks to a confounding inability to come to an easy and correct answer.

        There’s no nuance here. Borlaug was good. Higher yields was a good thing. Feeding more people was a good thing. This is progress.

      • Easy and correct and simplistic, perhaps. There are always unintended consequences. That doesn’t make Borlaug any less good. And it was still progress–but progress isn’t always an improvement.

        As an example, i can remember life before cell phones. They certainly represent progress, but i miss being out of touch. I used to really enjoy driving someplace as a means of being out of touch–being untethered. Cell phones are good (simplistic)–but there are unintended consequences, such as never having an excuse not to respond immediately (nuanced).

        Perhaps this is all petty, but still somewhat important.

      • Yes, Erik, it “was.” But the undeniably “good” Prof. Borlaug’s industrial farming approach is manifesting some bad problems intrinsically its own and, thus, requiring continued work by the Borlaugs to follow. This is not to discredit the goof professor, merely to point out that he did not finally cut the Gordian knot of feeding a dynamic world.

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