Showing posts with label byron york. Show all posts
Showing posts with label byron york. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I wouldn't go so far as to say I feel sorry for Scott Walker. He's a monster, best known for his scheme to destroy the Wisconsin teachers' union. Conservatives loved that about him, of course, because he was fulfilling their most earnest wish to humble those moocher cloth-ears who dared demand a living wage for work that didn't generate dividends or rightwing propaganda. Also he's been trying to get rid of tenure at the University of Wisconsin, which really sets their hearts on fire. And he loves Jesus and Reagan.

Many conservatives chose to imagine that ordinary people would love Walker just as much as they loved him -- though he always seemed to my unstarry eyes to be in a constant trance state and perhaps developmentally disabled. When Walker was caught eating some barbecue he'd just been serving to people with his latex serving gloves still on, it looks weird to some, but at The Federalist Peter Cook claimed it only looked weird to liberals because they never did an honest day's work -- unlike Walker, who once briefly did marketing for the Red Cross before entering politics. Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review found Walker a perfect candidate for a "Return to Normalcy" campaign "with his homespun tales of one-dollar sweaters, his quiet Midwestern roots, and his down-to-earth everyman appearance..."

Did ordinary people see him that way? It now appears ordinary Republicans didn't even see him that way. Or maybe they did see it, but decided it wasn't enough. Walker was doing okay in the polls until Trump broke out. And suddenly there went Walker's whole reason for being. It turned out his dollar sweaters and latex gloves and his lack of schooly airs weren't what appealed to them -- it was his willingness to be mean to the people they hated; and if you want a candidate to be mean to the people you hate, isn't it much better to have one who seems confident about it? (And if you want one who seems to be in a daze, there's always Ben Carson.) What's the point of ressentiment in a minor key? In April, when Walker tried to excite the crowd by harshing on Mexicans and people found it offensive, National Review's Rich Lowry said, "Walker should take the shots as a compliment, and hopefully, the rest of the field will begin to think and talk about immigration the same way." This was before Trump started calling Mexicans rapists and sweeping the field.

Anyway, now the brethren are wandering away from the scene of the crash with their hands in their pockets, whistling. Byron York was a big booster back in the day. In January he said, "Scott Walker doesn't have to be great on the stump to do well," because  his union-busting was so electifying that "GOP voters will cut him a little slack in the charisma and oratory department." Now, York sees more clearly Walker's "limitations" -- first, there was his "lack of foreign policy chops"; then, said York, "an even bigger problem was domestic policy. [Walker] just wasn't very up on some of the key policy and political issues that a president has to confront..." That wouldn't seem to leave much. Trump doesn't know anything, either, but nobody cares because his ignorance is so dynamic.

Like I said, I wouldn't say I felt bad for the guy, but it must be something to have pandered your ass off for months and then discover that it wasn't enough to be a bully -- you had to act like a bully, too.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Back when Gabby Giffords was shot and some liberals gave Sarah Palin and other conservatives a hard time about their incendiary rhetoric before the fact, I wrote this:
To be fair, we can imagine a reasonable answer to [these liberals’] argument. And we have to imagine it, as no one is actually making it. (Those who come closest are actually milquetoast liberals like the New York Times' Matt Bai who, in our current, debased political discourse, take the role once filled by moderate Republicans back when such creatures existed.) 
What we got instead was less reasonable, because once a connection had been suggested between the sainted Palin and an actual, horrific act of violence -- worse, a connection that such Americans as can remember back a few news cycles might actually grasp -- the necessity of severing that connection became stronger for rightbloggers than any faint impulses they might have had toward decorum, logic, or common sense. 
For example, when leftblogger Matthew Yglesias cited Congressnut Michele Bachmann's 2009 "armed and dangerous" comments as an example of violent rightwing lunacy, the Daily Caller's John Guardiano said it wasn't as bad as it sounded: "Bachmann clearly was using 'armed and dangerous' in a metaphorical and political, not literal and violent, sense," he said…
Etc. Now some of these same conservatives who defended themselves after the Giffords shooting are scapegoating like crazy after the murder of two cops in Brooklyn last weekend, claiming that protesters and officials who disputed the handling of the Eric Garner case are to blame for it. In fact, here’s Guardiano himself on Twitter: “Obama, Holder & de Blasio R to the mob today what Pontius Pilate was to the mob in Jesus’ time: weak-willed enablers.” Etc. etc.

It's tu quoque, I guess, but conservatives alway manage to be quoqueier than anyone else -- they whine such a lot about the flak they take (Jonah Goldberg even complained it was unfair to conservatives that Giffords continued to appear in public after her shooting) that it makes their viciousness when it's time to grandstand even more repulsive. Now they're circulating their clip of some knuckleheads shouting for “dead cops” at a New York protest and implying that all the tens of thousands who protested the Brown and Garner cases across the country were calling for assassinations.

Some of them put a lot of apparently wasted effort into trying to look reasonable -- like Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary, who every few paragraphs assures us that "conservatives know very well that attempts to politicize violence on the part of the mentally ill is deeply unfair" and such like, but keeps spinning around and coming back with convoluted quasi-accusations such as this:
If there is any reproach today that should be laid at the feet of Obama, Holder, and de Blasio, it is that by helping to foster one false set of assumptions they have now left themselves vulnerable to questions about their own willingness to accept and exploit calumnies against the police and the justice system.
This grammatical cloverleaf is not improved when you read the whole thing and realize that by “false set of assumptions” Tobin means the idea that police sometimes treat black people unfairly. (He also says "narrative" about 70 times, which is wingnut shorthand for "who ya gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes?") More forthrightly absurd is New York Post harrumpher Bob McManus:
Nobody knows what was in the shooter’s mind, of course; happily, he relieved society of the ­responsibility of trying to find out with a well-placed bullet to his own head. 
But anybody who thinks he wasn’t emboldened by City Hall’s placidity in the face of nihilistic, bloodthirsty incantations is delusional.
“Wow, a liberal Democrat is in office!” cried the psycho career criminal; “Now’s my chance!”

At National ReviewJim Geraghty says hopefully that “police shootings will do for the anti-police movement what the Oklahoma City bombing did to the militia movement.” This will sound weird to ordinary people, but it’s perfect in a way: Conservatives tend to think of Oklahoma City as a propaganda put-up job to make them look bad — you seldom hear them talk about what a shame it was those people were killed, and mostly hear them explaining, as Byron York did a 2011 column, “How Clinton Exploited Oklahoma City For Political Gain.” That’s really how they think about the Brooklyn shootings — it’s not life and death to them, and certainly not right or wrong: It’s just a way to get back at people who made them look bad.

Another point: This shows how big a fraud the vaunted libertarian-conservative harmonic convergence really is. Conservative columnists recently had a brief libertarian-flavored fling of police criticism over the Mike Brown case -- remember National Review's "It’s Time for Conservatives to Stop Defending Police"? You won't be seeing anything like that for a while, now that their old lawn-order avatars Rudolph Giuliani and George Pataki are tugging the leash. Mutual respect between the governed and the government might be alright for a weekend fling, but when the party's over it's time to go back home to authoritarianism.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Conservatives are making big promises about the downfall of their enemies (i.e., all rational people) and their own coming Reich; see, for example Victor Davis Maximus Super Hanson's "Liberalism in Ruins" -- boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that one! Byron York is no exception. Now that the HNIC is leaving the White House, he says, blacks will stop voting Democratic, as will those other pesky interest groups to whom his Nubian charm appealed:
First the coalition: Obama's powerful appeal to minorities, women, and young people propelled his decisive wins in 2008 and 2012. But those voters didn't show up at the polls in 2010 and 2014. 
Some Democrats are confident the coalition will be back in 2016, when interest in a presidential race is far greater than during midterms. But will it return in the strength it showed in '08 and '12? Or will Democratic voting return to pre-Obama patterns?
So, this is a great time for the GOP to appeal to and pick up these stray black, Latino and female voters and shore up their legitimacy as a national party, right?

Don't be silly. York has no advice on that, because even Washington Examiner readers wouldn't understand why he was bothering. But white people -- that's another story:
"Given its sheer size, the working-class white population in the U.S. is of keen importance to politicians and strategists on both sides of the aisle," Gallup wrote recently, noting "the complex set of attitudes and life positions which … have pushed this group further from the Democratic president over the past six years." 
If Democrats don't find a way to connect with those "attitudes and life positions" of working-class whites in coming years, they'll have a big problem...

In the end, no single group will mean defeat for the Democrat and victory for the Republican in 2016. But President Obama's troubling legacy — a weakened coalition and growing ranks of alienated white voters — could mean a serious post-presidential hangover for Democrats.
"No single group" is a nice evasive harrumph-harrumph, but the message of York's column is clearly that women, youth, and minority votes can only be lost -- like some kind of gas that escapes, evaporates, and is seen no more -- whereas white votes are something you can win by appealing to their "complex set of attitudes and life positions." Normally, based on his previous writings and conservative history, I would assume York considers these to be the usual hatred of minorities, contempt for the poor etc., but his column suggests he's at least dimly aware that the most effective thing conservatives can communicate to white people is that they are to be taken more seriously than anyone else.