Grief Reaction: Walker will help Dems!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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“In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Big Gift.” That was the headline in my New York Times last Friday, after Gov. Scott Walker pushed through his reforms aimed at cutting the power of public employee unions. The story underneath the hed was pretty thin, based primarily on one quote (“[H]e could not have handed us a bigger gift”) and a report that the state Dem party had raised $360,000 in 24 hours, which may or may not impress you. But the impulse behind the “gift” angle was understandable: it’s a natural grief reaction after a big loss.  ‘We didn’t lose, the fight continues, this will only make us stronger, etc.’ I’ve had this reaction myself. What’s a bit jarring is to see it on the front page of the NYT. It’s almost as if they know their customers are overwhelming people on the left half of the American spectrum, and they need to keep those readers’ spirits up! My memory is foggy, but I don’t remember the front page NYT headline the day after Obama’s health care bill passed, “In National Health Care Battle, Republicans See A Big Gift.” The Times has more in common with HuffPo than Bill Keller wants to admit. …

P.S.: Peter Beinart argues that Gov. Walker is a gift to Barack Obama, at least, primarily because

Republicans had a fighting chance of portraying him as a radical, frightening figure. Now that opportunity is gone. Instead, he looks like the bulwark against conservative radicalism. In 2010, Republicans successfully accused Obama of abetting the extremism of Nancy Pelosi. In 2012, Obama will ask Americans if they want a president who abets the extremism of Scott Walker.

Republicans, in this theory, will be hurt by Walker in 2012 just as they were hurt  in 1996 when Bill Clinton “ran as the candidate who would restrain Newt Gingrich.” Obvious problems with Beinart’s prediction: 1) Gingrich was a national figure and stayed a national figure because he was Speaker of the House. Walker is a national figure now, but he’s unlikely to remain one unless he runs for president and does well; 2) That’s especially true if, as the Dems predict, he’s punished and defanged in the state recall elections that seem to be coming up. Walker’s hardly a scary threat if he can’t even change his own state. … Of course, if he prevails, and nothing terrible happens, why is he so scary again? …

Update: Joe Scarborough notes another NYT piece the same day headlined “Walker Hands a Victory to … Obama?” It turns out Beinart’s seeming contrarianism is actually the party line. Funny how that happens. … This second Times piece, arguing that Walker’s win was a “galvanizing moment for labor unions,” contains the following, deeply annoying and deceptive graf:

Labor unions turned out in big numbers for Mr. Obama in 2008. But since his election, the president has been a disappointment to many union voters, in particular because he has not made their No. 1 legislative issue — secret balloting for union organizing — a top priority. [E.A.]

The NYT‘s Michael Shear is referring to labor’s “card check” proposal, which would effectively eliminate secret balloting for union organizing. … Random NYT error, or a subconscious inability to accurately state organized labor’s position because it is intuitively distasteful and makes unions look bad? You make the call! …