Friday, March 27, 2015


Salon's Joan Walsh thinks the interview Scott Walker gave to Hugh Hewitt Wednesday was a "debacle," particularly because of this:
Walker: I remember the movie in the 80s, Trading Places...

Hewitt: Right.

Walker: know, with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, it’s like Iran and Israel are trading places in the sequel. In the eyes of this president, our ally is supposed to be Israel. Our adversary has been historically Iran. And yet this administration completely does it the other way around. We need to call radical Islamic terrorism for what it is, and a commander-in-chief who’s willing to act.
Walsh adds:
No word on which nation is Aykroyd and which is Murphy; hoping other reporters will follow up. (If Walker finds that metaphor doesn’t work, he can play around with “Freaky Friday.”)
But is it really a gaffe to oversimplify complex problems? Several times over the years I've quoted some of Saint Ronald Reagan's pop-culture references, such as this one from 1985:
And the way I see it, if our current tax structure were a TV show, it would either be "Foul-ups, Bleeps, and Blunders," or "Gimme a Break." If it were a record album, it would be "Gimme Shelter." If it were a movie, it would be "Revenge of the Nerds" or maybe "Take the Money and Run." And if the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, ever wants a theme song, maybe they'll get Sting to do, "Every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you."
Reagan may have refrained from talking about geopolitics in terms of movie titles and song lyrics, but he still liked to oversimplify. Recall what he said in September 1984 after a suicide car bomber blew up the U.S. embassy in Aukar, Lebanon, and it was revealed that planned security improvements hadn't been put into place:
Mr. Reagan, referring yesterday to the incomplete security measures, said, "Anyone that's ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would."
Five weeks after saying that, Reagan won reelection in a 49-state landslide.

And don't forget that the man who would undoubtedly clear the Republican primary field if he were eligible for the U.S. presidency -- Benjamin Netanyahu -- put out a campaign ad this year that featured Chuck Norris talking about foreign policy:
"I have done three movies in Israel, Delta Force being my favorite," Norris says in the spot, "and I formed many friendships while there. You have an incredible country and we want to keep it that way. That's why it's so important to keep a leader who has the courage and vision to stand up against the evil forces that are threatening not only Israel, but the United States. So, I ask you to vote for Prime Minister Netanyahu on election day. Thank you for listening to me."
And while we're on the subject of Netanyahu and the acceptability of oversimplification, let's not forget the visual aid at Bibi's 2012 UN speech:

So, yeah, if you want to appeal to heartland righties, keep it simple, stupid.


Walker has been criticized for saying he'd be ready to fight ISIS because he took on unions in Wisconsin. I see from Walsh's piece that Hewitt didn't consider that a gaffe:
“I was on Meet the Press that day,” [Hewitt] bragged, “and I said that was not a gaffe....”
I agree. I think Jim Henley makes a lot of excellent points:
Walker isn’t so much flailing about to distract from his foreign-policy inexperience as staying on-message. Walker’s whole claim to fame, his appeal to both the party’s money-boys and its mass base, is his successful war on Wisconsin’s public-employee unions.... By claiming that standing up to Wisconsin’s state employees showed that he could stand up to foreign terrorists, what Walker was really doing was seizing any opportunity whatsoever to remind primary voters, activists and donors, “I have public-employee-union scalps.” ...

This is standard, contemporary, political dreariness in messaging. “How’s the weather back home, Senator?” “Sunny, which at least gives people a little relief from the way my opponent’s tax policy is driving the economy to ruin.”
And Henley's absolutely right about how, to conservatives, all enemies more or less run together:
A farrago like “Kenyan Muslim socialism” exists at all because, in the right-wing mind, progressive activists, Latino immigrants, government bureaucrats, feminists, queers, community organizers, civil rights campaigners, unfriendly governments and foreign terrorists all belong to a category of “Anti-American” anathemas. These most fanatical believe the anodyne center-left Barack Obama wants to promulgate Sharia law and cram homosexuality and matriarchy down America’s throat: at the same time. Scott Walker may or may not believe, in his heart of hearts, that public-employee union members are “as bad as” the adherents of ISIS, but plenty of people do, as any new-site comment section or Reddit subforum will indicate. All these groups want to “destroy America.” The rest is details.

A bigger group probably agrees that, sure, likening ISIS and unionized state workers is an exaggeration. But it’s not like they’re offended on behalf of the state workers. Walker’s comparison doesn’t stir them to empathetic outrage on behalf of their fellow citizens. While these conservatives don’t think public workers are terrorists, they also don’t have any fellow-feeling for them. They have, instead, antipathy. So eff those guys anyway.
See also this extremely popular item, which you'll find on many, many vehicles in America, and which also brings geopolitics down to the level of the everyday:

If you've bought one of those, you're not going to get upset when Scott Walker reduces foreign policy to pop.


Victor said...

I've been meaning to say this since I first saw that photo of Bibi and his bomb:
We give Bibi's Israel billions of dollars a year, and the best he can do in the area of graphics, is show a bomb that ACME wouldn't even think Wile E. Coyote would be dumb or desperate enough to buy?!?!?!?!?!

And the people there wonder why we just 'fly-over."

Victor said...

Smart move, Steve - with the moderation, I mean!

I'm probably one of the guilty parties, because I tried to circumvent a troll and comment around "it," without directly responding.

My apologies.

Never Ben Better said...

Who needs any understanding of history, nuance and complexity when you've got the biggest baddest military on the planet? Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out.

Plays well in Peoria, so what more does a conservative need?