Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.Charles Johnson thought Walker was playing defense. I disagree:
“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion.
“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” Walker said, his voice calm and firm. “I’ve never asked him that,” he added. “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”
I think Walker was going on offense -- he was seizing an opportunity to curry favor with the base and to further establish himself as the new King of the Wingnuts.
It's working. The base hates the fact that he was asked this question and loves his response, especially this part:
Walker said such questions from reporters are reflective of a broader problem in the nation’s political-media culture, which he described as fixated on issues that are not relevant to most Americans.That's nonsense, of course -- the right-wing base is obsessed with the question of what Obama believes in (short answer: not America, not capitalism, and not Christianity). The wingers got thrills up their legs when he said this.
“To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” he said. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”
Walker said he does not believe that most Americans care about such matters.“People in the media will [judge], not everyday people,” he said. “I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue.”
Kemberlee Kaye at Legal Insurrection in a post titled "The Washington Post Played ‘Gotcha’ with Scott Walker (and Lost)," described this as "the WaPo Inquisition" and said that Balz and Cota were "shamed" by Walker's attack on Washington and the media. Scott Greer of the Daily Caller decried "the most outlandish question posed to a potential candidate yet." And Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft, with his usual infantile fondness for all caps, titled his post "Gov. Walker DESTROYS LIBERAL MEDIA After Latest Attempt at Gotcha Question." ("Liberal media"? Um, Costa used to write for National Review, and, in fact, once had a William F. Buckley Journalism Fellowship at the National Review Institute.)
So: big win for Walker in his pursuit of the nomination, right?
Well, maybe not. He's going to keep climbing in the polls, but I bet he's alienating some of the big-money boys who thought the 2014 was a GOP year because the Establishment wrested control of campaigns from the Tea Party. I bet Walker's driving some of the fence-sitters right into the arms of Jeb Bush.
Even before this Balz/Costa interview, mainstream media mandarin Dana Milbank was writing that Walker's silence in response to Rudy Giuliani's McCarthyite comments about Obama should disqualify Walker from the presidency. A piece at The New York Times right now is titled "Establishment Republicans Question Scott Walker’s Handling of Giuliani Comments" And notice what's at the bottom of the front page of today's New York Daily News:
From the story:
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said Giuliani’s remarks could backfire on the Republicans as the campaign continues.Yes, but Jeb deftly tiptoed away from Giuliani's comments:
“Rudy’s comments are red meat -- no, filet mignon -- for the GOP activist base,” he said. “But Rudy’s patriotic breast-beating hurts with voters who are turned off by invective.
“Rudy has put all the GOP presidential candidates in a tough spot. They can’t win no matter how they respond to his comments.”
A statement distributed by aides said that "Governor Bush doesn't question President Obama's motives. He does question President Obama's disastrous policies."It shouldn't matter what the Daily News thinks, but don't forget, Mort Zuckerman, the chairman and publisher of the News, was one of the movers and shakers in attendance when Giuliani smeared the president and Walker said nothing. In order to become president, Walker needs to thread the needle, holding on to his wingnut base while impressing just enough powerful centrists (in both the donor and media classes) to secure both the nomination and a general election victory. I've been thinking that he's now the favorite for the nomination, but if the money people don't think so, and the centrist press starts portraying him as Ted Cruz rather than the declaring him safe the way George W. Bush was declared safe in 2000, then his needle-threading isn't working.
But boy, is the next round of GOP polls going to look good for him.