Perception is reality, some people say. Actually, perception isn't reality. If it were reality, it would be spelled "reality.".
So Scott Walker recently claimed
I have two sons. … I know all of you as parents feel the same way. I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure the threat from radical Islamic terrorists will not wash up on American soil. We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send the message that will protect American soil but “Do not take this upon freedom-loving people here or anywhere around the world.” We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.
Some conservatives, astonishingly and boldly, criticized Walker's remarks. Once and possible future GOP candidate Rick Perry noticed "These are Americans (and) to try to make the relationship between them and the unions is inappropriate.” The National Review's Jim Geraghty found Walker's comment "insulting to the protesters, a group I take no pleasure in defending," one which "earned plenty of criticism but is "not ISIS." "The protesters in Wisconsin, asserted Geraghty, "so furiously angry over Walker’s reforms and disruptive to the procedures of passing laws, earned plenty of legitimate criticism. But they’re not ISIS."
The Republican critics, though bold given their audience of elites which believes pro-union protesters may be worse than ISIS, at least did not argue they would harm the Wisconsin governor's presidential prospects. Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall stated "Walker managed to come off as offensive, callow and silly, all at the same time" while Firedoglake's GS Wright maintained "Walker either genuinely thinks unions are truly as wicked as ISIS or is incapable of articulating himself without saying something dumb and offensive."
Skepticism of Walker's comment as strategy extends even to those who ostensibly defend the governor. John Dickerson of Slate argues the Walker argument
"is reductionist foreign policy aimed at protecting every free country across the globe is a little trickier than that- and it's a logical fallacy, but it's not a comparison.The logical fallacy is that strength in one category can be transferred to another. (You may know its cousin: If we can put a man on the moon … ) It’s also a familiar candidate gambit.
He adds, nevertheless, "At the start of his CPAC remarks, Walker said that President Obama 'thinks we grow the economy by growing Washington.' That’s not exactly a complete and fair rendering of the president’s views. Walker has just now gotten a taste of what it’s like being president."
And if he keeps doing this sort of thing, he may get halfway to president (in a sense, more than halfway) by winning his party's nomination. Steve M. quotes Laura Ingraham at CPAC (in video below, beginning at approximately 4:20) stating
But we have to realize, my friends, you go into battle with the political system you have. And we already know that the media and much of the donor class is hostile to conservatism. And guess what? That's been true for a very long time. They were joking on MSNBC this morning about Scott Walker's comment yesterday....
My friend Craig Shirley reminded me of this. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was campaigning—I think it was before the New Hampshire primary -- and he said, I know how to deal with the Soviets. I can bring them to the negotiating table. After all, I had to deal with the old studio chiefs in Hollywood. And the media, just like they did with Scott Walker, went after him. Oh, how could he compare dealing with the studio heads? And Ronald Reagan basically said, 'I have a sense of humor, and you don't.
Recognizing what the GOP has become, SM comments
Even if Ingraham is trying to help Walker to do a climbdown, she's saying his remark is being pounced on by the same sorts of evil media liberals who hated and underestimated Reagan, the greatest human being who ever walked the earth.
How the hell does that comparison leave Walker with any lasting damage as far as rank-and-file Republicans are concerned? If you say Walker joked the way Reagan joked, how does he lose face with the voters he seeks?
SM believes Walker is hitting the sweet spot with the GOP voter base. And if he is doing so, it appears, he is accomplishing it without alienating members of the donor class with no talk of "legitimate rape," without saying their gay daughter should not be able to marry her friend, and without even suggesting any specific military response to ISIS (or any terrorist group). SM continues
By the way, I can't find Shirley's anecdote online. I searched a number of ways, including within the texts of Shirley's voluminous history of the 1980 campaign. My search skills may be failing me, but if I'm right, this never actually happened.
Then again, Reagan liked to make up stories that "proved" his point, didn't he? Reagan was criticized in the media for this, but it never seemed to do him serious harm.
Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6) was the master of anecdote, some truthful and some made up, the latter no obstacle. As of now, the only Republican contemplating a presidential run who has been at all courageous or "tough" (as Donald Trump would put it) is Rick Perry. But his party's voters aren't looking for a candidate who will call out another politician for blasting middle-class and working-class people. They're looking for someone who is certain who the villains are, and that they're all the same.