February 25, 2015

Accusing Scott Walker of winking insidious messages, Dana Milbank shows his frustration at the disciplining effect of Walker's no-response response.

I'm reading Dana Milbank's new WaPo column "Scott Walker’s insidious agnosticism," which doubles down on his recent "Scott Walker’s cowardice should disqualify him," which I dealt with 4 days ago in "Non-Wisconsinites, I need to explain something about Scott Walker to you that you are missing."

I'm overcoming my basic urge to ignore Milbank. Isn't he just repeating what I've already addressed? Why feed him with attention? But he's got high profile whether I pay attention to him or not. That column has upwards of 5,000 comments, and Milbank is actively shaping Walker's image right as Walker is getting national attention.

Walker — with his hardcore on-message approach — does not respond to the usual efforts to entice Republicans to make damaging remarks about sex, race, religion, and other things that aren't part of his message. Another strategy is needed, and Milbank seems to think he's found it. (I put "seems to" in that sentence in honor of Walker's dogged refusal to make statements about what's inside another person's head.) Milbank's idea is to make Walker's restraint into a horrible flaw that disqualifies him from serious consideration.

In the first column, Milbank used the label "cowardice." In the new one, it's "agnosticism." But what's wrong with agnosticism? Is he knocking one of the world's great religions? Oh, it's "insidious agnosticism." Insidious, really? Why not invidious? Or perfidious?! Milbank uses the religion-related word as he attempts to crucify Walker for saying that he doesn't know whether President Obama is a Christian:
This is not a matter of conjecture. The correct answer is yes: Obama is Christian, and he frequently speaks about it in public....
Milbank (who is probably not a Christian) is missing something about Christianity that is quite glaring to me (whose possible Christianity is an enigma). To many Christians, claiming to be a Christian doesn't make you a Christian.

As I child, I often found myself in a Christian church with a congregation singing "Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart." Dana Milbank, do you understand why that lyric is experienced as profound, or would you scoff "Why are these idiots pestering God about wanting to be something that they obviously are? The correct lyric is 'Thanks, Lord, for making me a Christian'"?  Why are you the arbiter of what is correct in Christianity? Why aren't you more of an agnostic? Your non-agnosticism here is insidious, invidious, and perfidious.

Milbank says that Walker's idea that he would need to talk to Obama about Christianity is an "intriguing standard," and then he lets loose with the snark:
I’ve never had a conversation with Walker about whether he’s a cannibal, a eunuch, a sleeper cell [sic] for the Islamic State, a sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome or a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. By Walker’s logic, it would be fair for me to let stand the possibility that he just might be any of those — simply because I have no personal and direct refutation from him.
No. Walker's logic is that if anyone were to ask a bad question like that, he would turn the spotlight back on the questioner and expose the defectiveness of the question. And that would be a better response, because it doesn't treat the question as serious. That is, it's better to say "That's a clown question, bro" than to treat it like a real issue by saying no. Walker doesn't say "That's a clown question." He's more polite. But it's the same idea.

Walker is engaged in the enterprise of disciplining the press, and I can see why they don't like it. Milbank reveals his frustration:
Walker justifies his agnosticism on grounds that he is avoiding gotcha questions.... This is insidious... because it allows Walker to wink and nod at the far-right fringe where people really believe that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya who hates America. 
Only because the question was asked! Stop asking questions like that and you'll be disabling Walker's insidious winking. Face it: Those who are putting these questions to Walker are trying to elicit material that they can used to serve the audience on the left. They have the power to turn off the Walker winks, but they hate to do it. They want to generate material on hot subjects like sex, race, and religion because it works so well to draw in normal, ordinary Americans who know that economics and national security are what really matters in a President but who find these topics boring and difficult.

If only something like "legitimate rape" would drop out of Walker, they'd be in business.
... Walker’s technique shuts down all debate, because there’s no way to have a constructive argument once you’ve disqualified your opponent as unpatriotic, un-Christian and anti-American.
Disqualified? Dana Milbank used that word in the previous column, "Scott Walker’s cowardice should disqualify him." You declared him disqualified, and now you accuse him of shutting down all debate because he won't debate with you about a subject that isn't constructive. You know it's not constructive, that it's a trick, and he's not playing the game. So what do you do? You switch to accusing him of playing a game through silent signalling — unpatriotic, un-Christian and anti-American. Of course, you're frustrated that you can't lure him into the conversation you want, and you'd like to deprive him of the power to discipline you into staying on his message.

At this point, Milbank's column sinks into madness:
On the Internet, Godwin’s Law indicates that any reasonable discussion ceases when the Nazi accusations come out; Walker is essentially doing the same by refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian.
What? Walker didn't say those things. (Also, that's not even what Godwin's Law is.) And Walker isn't doing the equivalent of bringing up the Nazis. He's not talking about the things you wish he'd talk about, so you're saying it for him. You know you're doing that, so you toss in the word "essentially" to patch up the mess of that sentence... that sentence that purports to long for reasonable discussion.

Milbank ends the column with an imagined Q&A in which a Walker opponent supposedly gets questions like those Walker has received and answers them the way Walker has answered those questions. The first 2 questions are not in the form of the questions Scott Walker has been asked: "Why does Scott Walker hate America?" and "When did he stop beating his wife?" Those are questions that assume a fact, a notoriously improper form of question. There's a prior unasked question in both cases that could be answered "I don't know" — Does Scott Walker hate America? and Did Scott Walker ever engage in wife-beating?

So, right off, we can see that Milbank is doing something insidious and invidious. Milbank hasn't shown us an example of Walker's failing to acknowledge the problem of an assumption inside a question.

Milbank proceeds to some questions that don't have that problem: "Does Walker love his children?" and "Does he have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood?" And Milbank seems to think that he's demonstrated that the answers should just be "yes" and "no," but I think a better answer to those questions would be to refuse to accept those questions as appropriate and to turn the spotlight onto the questioner, which is the Scott-Walker-press-disciplining technique.
I’ll go out on a limb and stipulate that Walker loves his country and his family, and I have no reason to think he isn’t a good Christian and a decent man. But he’d be a better man if he didn’t insinuate with his demurrals that his political opponents are not.
And you'd be a better man, Dana Milbank, if you didn't pose as if you were saying something nice about Scott Walker and inviting him to a higher level of civil discourse.

140 comments:

SGT Ted said...

Ann, guys like Milbank are just trying to protect their boyfriend. It's all emoting and mean-girl shit talk.

donald said...

Dana Milbank needs a good George Kennedy on Jeff Bridges in Freebie and the Bean ass whupping.

tim in vermont said...

Best tweet on this subject.

"Show me on the doll, Dana, where the bad man hurt you."

Hagar said...

That is way too much to expend on Dana Milbank. Just consider the source and pass on. Don't get down into the gutter with these people.

SGT Ted said...

And it also the typical leftist reframing of an ordinary statement to mean something secretly vile to appeal to Awful People Who Will Vote GOP Because RACIST/SEXIST/HOMOPHOBES!, but only discernible to the one making the accusation.

garage mahal said...

There are a lot of topics that big, bold and brave Scott Walker doesn't want to talk about. Don't ask him about those topics! Sheesh.

tim in vermont said...

Now you just sound bitter garage.

Don't worry, he probably won't be the nominee for whatever reason having zero to do with secret routers that will likely show up over the next year to make somebody else better positioned or more compelling.

It is always dangerous to be the early front-runner. Why do you think Hillary is hiding out?

Ann Althouse said...

Show me the good question that Scott Walker has punted.

traditionalliar said...

Walker should start answering these types of questions with "What difference at this point does it make?"

Democrats or "journalists" have never had a problem with that response in the past.

eric said...

We Republicans are used to this and Walker will make it to the end if he can get through this process.

The Democrats and the Press (But I repeat myself) will throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. That's what they are doing with Walker now, that's what they will do with the other candidates later, as each becomes front runner or looks like they might gain some traction.

It's how they handle themselves now that I'm watching.

I can see why Ann you would prefer the way Walker answers these questions. I don't like it myself, but it doesn't disqualify him.

It annoys the crap out of me when the Tim Pawlenty types answer, when questioned about Sarah Palin and targeting congressional districts they answer, "Well, I wouldn't have done it like that."

Republicans need to stand up for each other, and Walker should have stood up for Rudy.

Matthew Sablan said...

Man. More politicians need to take Walker's approach, especially Republicans.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The Christian thing continues to baffle me.

For Christians, it's literally unanswerable in every case for another human being, and often unanswerable even for ourselves.

You can answer factual questions about "Christian" behaviors, sure, but every Christian and most non-Christians understand that the reality of faith is between one soul and God and how on EARTH does it make Walker "cowardly" for treating it as the nonsense question it clearly is to most people with more than a handful of functioning brain cells?

garage mahal said...

A good question is one that Scott Walker feels comfortable answering. A bad question is one that makes him uncomfortable. The media needs to stop making him uncomfortable. That's not their job.

Matthew Sablan said...

Remember when restraint and circumspection were traits we wanted in a president?

Oh, 2008, how far away you are!

Matthew Sablan said...

"Don't ask him about those topics! Sheesh."

-- Let him eat his waffles?

Amadeus 48 said...

Milbank flips out. Kinda cool to see a national press political columnist disqualify himself. This is Dana's macaca moment!

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

And may I just say that I ADORE that Walker understands not answering nonsense questions and is holding that line. I've prayed--literally prayed--for a candidate like this. As long as he can avoid accidentally catching a social issues tar baby, I think the man's golden.

surfed said...

Deftly skewered and a sampling of Milbank's flesh neatly fileted and deposited at the doorstep of the Washington Post. As my "coastie" brother in law from North Jersey would say - "It's a beautiful thing".

Matthew Sablan said...

So, is Dana Milbank going to ask equally dangerous questions to Hillary Clinton? Is he going to think she's being insidious by not appearing in public as much as people want and answering the questions people want?

Of course not.

This is solely a standard generated, tailor made, for Scott Walker. There's no consistency, either intellectual or ethical, to Milbank's approach.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Beyond that, Walker’s technique shuts down all debate, because there’s no way to have a constructive argument once you’ve disqualified your opponent as unpatriotic, un-Christian and anti-American. On the Internet, Godwin’s Law indicates that any reasonable discussion ceases when the Nazi accusations come out; Walker is essentially doing the same by refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian."

-- That's... not what's happening at all. Walker is saying that he doesn't know, and that if these people want to know, go ask the guy themselves. You know, like journalists should do. I remember now why I rarely read Milbank.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
There are a lot of topics that big, bold and brave Scott Walker doesn't want to talk about. Don't ask him about those topics! Sheesh."

"Ann Althouse said...
Show me the good question that Scott Walker has punted."

And garage punts:

"garage mahal said...
A good question is one that Scott Walker feels comfortable answering. A bad question is one that makes him uncomfortable. The media needs to stop making him uncomfortable. That's not their job."

Because garage is full of shit. As usual.

Brando said...

Milbank's argument is absurd--if someone says he's a Seahawks fan, then that proves that he says he's a Seahawks fan. The cannibal/KKK comparison makes no sense--if I was asked whether Obama was a cannibal, I couldn't say definitely yes or no, because what do I know about what he eats? That's not the same as suggesting that he is a cannibal. Do I think he's a cannibal? I have no reason to. But the question was stupid, and still accurately answered.

Milbank's trying to impute Walker with the old "birther" nonsense, where people kept saying "hey, we don't know either way" even after a birth certificate was produced. But there's no "proof" that someone is a Christian--it's a belief, not a factual identity (such as skin color or ancestry--and even there, it's not like Walker would be expected to have run geneological tests on Obama anyway, so again, correct answer: "who knows, and who cares?").

As Milbank is pretty mainstream as far as the media is concerned, this could be a sign that they've overplayed their hand. Have they nothing better on Walker?

Sloanasaurus said...

Great commentary Althouse!

Put another way Milbank's column is just another version of the Strawman technique that Obama has used so successfully. Its basically making up a theory or story from nothing and then attributing the theory or story to an unnamed group that someone might believe came up with the theory. It works for Obama because the media never challenges him to identify the strawman. We will see if it works for Milbank.

Gusty Winds said...

He throws out "the Klan" in paragraph four. That is nothing but pure desperate tantrum. Dammit, NOBODY IS LISTENING TO ME!!!

The truth is...no one knows if Obama is a Christian. And sine when is the left so concerned about wrapping their secular messiah in the purple robes of lent?

We're supposed to not care, correct?

Bob Boyd said...

Would there ever, under any circumstances, come a day when Dana Milbank would write the words, "Scott Walker is qualified to be President?"

Laslo Spatula said...

"To many Christians, claiming to be a Christian doesn't make you a Christian."
Members of the Democratic Church of the Rhetorical Christ understand that saying you are Christian is good enough indeed, because they know that Jesus would want them to be doing exactly what they are doing.
Non-believers are always welcome to stop by for grape juice and crackers.

I am Laslo.

Kevin said...


I thought I was incapable of thinking less of Dana Milbank.

I was intensely wrong.

Matthew Sablan said...

When people asked me about someone's private life [Are they X religion? Are they single?] my answer has consistently been: Ask them; I'm not here to gossip. I think someone should tell that to a journalist.

"Are you here for the news or gossip? I didn't think I booked an interview with the Enquirer."

tim in vermont said...

Remember when Hillary said she was a Yankees fan?

I am sure the whole world took her at her word. Someone should ask her if she is still a Yankees fan?

But we can't because she is not a Republican and only Republicans get asked clown questions.

chickelit said...

I gotta wonder if Milbank knows that Walker's supporters have never called Obama a Nazi but that Walker's foes have done exactly that to Walker?

Obviously Milkban has never read Althouse nor has he seen the photos his ilk have posed for. Talk about denial. Projection, thy name is Dana Milbank.

Who you gonna believe, Milbank or the camera?

MayBee said...

No politician should be forced to say they believe what another politician says about himself.
We all know politicians lie and shade the truth about themselves for political reasons.

Imagine being forced to answer, in 2007, whether you believed the Edwards had a blissful marriage as they portrayed.

Imagine being forced to answer, in 2008, whether you thought Obama really was against gay marriage, as he said his faith made him be.

It just isn't any other politicians' job to vouch for the private lives and thoughts someone else portrays themselves to have.
It can't be.

chuck said...

In one short week, Walker has become a national figure. He could not have done that without major help from the press.

Bob Boyd said...

"Media: How dare Scott Walker doubt Barack Obama's faith in Scott Walker's ridiculous invisible sky beard man" - Iowahawk David Burge

Gusty Winds said...

Why would the questioner even ask if Obama was a Christian if he didn't have doubts about it in his own mind, or recognize there is collective doubt about it in the Christian community?

Jane the Actuary said...

Now this is getting weird.

Growing up, I heard plenty of the "Christian" used as a synonym for "good" (e.g., "that's not a very Christian thing to do"), especially from my grandmother.

But at some point I came to recognize this as indirectly insulting to non-Christians, by implying that Christians had some kind of monopoly on good behavior.

Now the Left is doing the same thing, in its hysteria that any Republican who doesn't fall in line and say "of course if Obama said he's a Christian, it must be true," is themselves undeserving of participating in public life because of the tremendous disrespect and insult they've committed.

Besides which, they, likely mostly unbelievers anyway (who, many of them, likely privately say, "of course, Obama is likely an atheist who has to pretend to be Christian"), are imposing their "big tent" understanding of Christianity on believers for whom the question of "who is a Christian" is more complicated, not due to the desire to insult anyone, but because of definitions.

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2015/02/does-it-matter-whether-obama-is.html

Sebastian said...

Excellent fisking. Cruel non-neutrality works better.

Not playing the Dems-with-bylines' game is good (sputtering Milbank a case in point), but beating them at their own game is better. Walker may get there.

Jason said...

When Joan of Arc was being interrogated for heresy, her interrogators tried to lure her into a theological trap.

The question they asked was, "do you know whether you are in God's grace?"

If she answered "yes," she would essentially be uttering heresy - it was actually Catholic doctrine that no living person could know for sure whether she was in God's grace while alive.

If she answered "no," she would be admitting to being in a state of sin, and therefore open herself to execution for that.

One of the men interrogating her, Jean Lefevre, protested that the question was unfair. "It is a grave question," he argued, and she should not be required to answer it.

Joan of Arc famously and brilliantly replied. "If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace."

In essence, she punted.

I'm sure Dana Milbank would have been outraged.

That is, if Milbank were anywhere near as fair as those who interrogated a teenage girl and killed her by burning her at the stake.



Jason said...

Its not Scott Walker's fault he's as popular as he is. Democrats in this state put him in the position he was in.

Its hilarious how its come full circle that the Act 10 circus put on by liberals in Wisconsin has put Scott Walker in a position where he's a legitimate threat to be POTUS.

gerry said...

"...Walker is essentially doing the same by refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian."

Is Milbank insidiously asserting that one needs to be a patriot and Christian to be a legitimate presidential candidate?

SGT Ted said...

A good question is one that Scott Walker feels comfortable answering. A bad question is one that makes him uncomfortable. The media needs to stop making him uncomfortable. That's not their job.

Hey, good enough for Obama, good enough for Walker, right?

Terry said...

Obama was baptized in Rev Wright's church. Milbank should mention that, a lot. Take that, Walker!

damikesc said...

Milbank is a clown. That hasn't changed.

If Obama says he's a great athlete, must Walker also agree with that? If he says he's hilarious, is Walker obligated to say "Yup, Barack is fucking funny as hell!"?

Is Obama so desperate for validation that this kind of gnashing of teeth of his sycophants is needed?

There are a lot of topics that big, bold and brave Scott Walker doesn't want to talk about.

Has Hillary been asked why she isn't sure if Obama isn't a Muslim?

Why not? She's the Dem frontrunner by a huge margin and was in his Cabinet for years.

She would know better than others --- but instead, we'll ask a Governor who doesn't know him a question out of left field.

...and then whine when he won't discuss an idiotic question.

Ddin't the Left say Republicans shouldn't discuss things they don't know about in regards to Akin?

A bad question is one that makes him uncomfortable. The media needs to stop making him uncomfortable. That's not their job.

Is Obama's religion an important question?

Can you explain HOW it is an important question?

If Obama WASN'T a Christian, what part of his public persona or behavior would change? He doesn't attend church very often (18 times in 5 years) and has been known to lie about his beliefs for electoral reasons, per David Axelrod.

How would anybody knows what he thinks?

damikesc said...

When did Walker say Obama wasn't American?

When did he say Obama wasn't an American?

traditionalguy said...

So what makes someone into an Anti-Christ-ian?

An Anti-Christ-ian is a person who counterfeits being a Christian in order to replace the true ones and thus to exclude them. They are like a man playing the role of body double of the powerful leader. For some reason Hollywood loves that as a genre for movie plots.

But the fun has been watching Milbanks doing a credible hatchet job that usually sets off a Journolist mob to destroy a candidate overnight seeing himself confounded when it will not work on Walker.

In the words of Butch Cassidy and Garage, " Who is this guy?"









Peter said...

Dana Milbank's report on Scott Walker's behavior: "No psychotic behavior was observed today."

What a fine, objective observation!

Brando said...

A better reporter would have followed up Walker's response with "do you think George W Bush is a Christian?" If he gave the same response, that settles it.

jim murray said...

Eff Milbank. Ignore him. His readership will eventually drop and the wapo will drop him.

MayBee said...

Have politicians ever been asked to vouch for anyone besides Barack Obama's Christianness?

I can't think of any examples. Why doesn't this strike Democrats as odd? Why are people asking *other people* about the President's religion?

Browndog said...

More hard hitting journalism-

It’s fascinating to watch the national media slowly come to realize just how fundamentally dishonest Gov. Scott Walker can be.

Walker’s likable, low-key personality makes a good first impression. But it didn’t take many in Wisconsin long to recognize the double-talking radical extremist behind that bland persona.

Laslo Spatula said...

Next media question for Walker: Do you believe Hillary is a heterosexual?


I am laslo.

buwaya puti said...

Organized, centrally directed media machines in action.
Milbank isn't "frustrated", he is executing his assignment for the day.

Bob Ellison said...

That's a really good essay you did, Professor. It'll make the rounds.

Charles Remes said...

I comment about once every year or so (probably less often, but that's close enough). This analysis by Althouse is *exactly* why I read her daily and continue to return. Awesome.

Disclaimer: I'm not an Althouse ditto-head. I appreciate her perspective.

Why can't Althouse be on the national stage? Maybe Walker is her stepping stone.

OLDFART said...

Milbanks is right on one point- most of us on the right do think hussein is a muslim from Kenya and he does not love America the way we do.

MadisonMan said...

I'm out of state at a meeting. I mentioned the Governor was running for President, and named him, and the person next to me, from Hawaii, said "Who?"

@Charles Remes: Maybe she doesn't want to be?

Krumhorn said...

Excellent post, Ann. It would have taken me days to write it half as well...if even achieving that I don't see how you get it all done.

- Krumhorn

Connie said...

It is pretty clear that the national press doesn't understand that Walker is not going to take the bait they dangle. Milbank is probably used to politicians that will bow to the pressure and ultimately respond. Walker has calculated that the vast majority of the people in this country don't care whether Walker knows if Obama is a Christian or if he doesn't. So far his calculations on these issues have been right.

Guimo said...

Keep fucking that chicken, Dana.

Happy Warrior said...

What she said.

Krumhorn said...

The period after "that" magically disappeared.

- Krumhorn

David said...

You did a great job of overcoming the urge not to comment.

Chris said...

"Only because the question was asked! Stop asking questions like that [...]"

This truth is right in front of their nose, and they can't see it.

CWJ said...

"Walker justifies his agnosticism on grounds that he is avoiding gotcha questions.... This is insidious... because it allows Walker to wink and nod at the far-right fringe where people really believe that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya who hates America."

It's dog whistles all the way down.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Milbank is Skull and Bones, so shut up.

Did you go to Yale? Whatever Yale admissions saw in Milbank means he is better than you.

Flawless Buckleyesque writing flourishes won't change that. Hell, I bet P. Diddy couldn't even find Madison on a map of 'Merica, so there.

Herb said...

"Walker is essentially doing the same by refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian."

Since when is Walker running against Obama for the office of President?

CWJ said...

"... Walker’s technique shuts down all debate, because there’s no way to have a constructive argument once you’ve disqualified your opponent as unpatriotic, un-Christian and anti-American."

This is very strange. Leaving aside that Walker did no such thing, about what exactly were we supposed to debate and/or have a constructive argument?

CWJ said...

Brando wrote -

"... if I was asked whether Obama was a cannibal, I couldn't say definitely yes or no, because what do I know about what he eats?"

Agreed. But I will say that my dog went missing the last time he came to town.

Paddy O said...

"Christian" in these discussions seems more to relate to the older meaning, where it just meant a "civilized fellow."

I don't think Obama is a Christian but I don't think lots of people are Christians. How is that an insult? I think GWB is a Christian, but I don't really think Reagan was a Christian or Clintons are Christian.

Why do we need our political leaders to put on some pose of faith. It's not the 1950s anymore. If they are Christian great, then act like it. If they're not, then that's fine, don't pile on the hypocrisy.

Taking (on) the Lord's name in vain violates a key commandment, after all.

I especially don't think it's appropriate for people who aren't themselves Christian to say who and who isn't a Christian.

tim in vermont said...

It is funny the system of dogwhistles "liberals" have come up with to explain how people they don't understand think.

It is almost like the systems of circles ancient astronomers posited to explain how everything in the sky circled the earth.

Meanwhile, Milbank is blasting on his dogwhistle like a French cop in an old movie.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

I especially don't think it's appropriate for people who aren't themselves Christian to say who and who isn't a Christian.

Well, there is the fact that Obama has no problem telling Muslims who is and isn't Muslim, but I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is engaging in the same kind of rhetoric as the protester on the other thread.

Bob Boyd said...

Do you believe the Emperor is wearing invisible clothes?

I don't know.

Outrageous! For shame!
Your technique shuts down all debate, because there’s no way to have a constructive argument once you've disqualified your opponent as immodest.
Your evasive answer is a wink and a nod at the extreme fringe who claim he's naked simply because they can see the Emperor's nuts!

Jason said...

Shit. There's another Jason on here.

Drago said...

Something tells me we are just days away from the Wash Post publishing newly found secret-router based memos which outline Scott Walkers vicious, inappropriate, unwarranted and clearly racist attack on the clear "Mother Theresa-like" Christianity of obama.

And garage will be "all in".

edward irvin said...

Beginning to remind me of the way Sullivan went after Sarah Palin.

Browndog said...

I read this the other day:

2 things the left hates

1) Patriotism
2) Questioning their Patriotism


I'll add:

2 things the left hates

1) Christianity
2) Questioning their Christianity

SMGalbraith said...

How exactly - or even roughly - is Walker simply saying, "Yes I believe President Obama is a Christian" somehow getting him off message?

He answers that question and it's gone. The non-answer he gives has taken away more of his message than him simply saying the above.

Anyone with an IQ above that of a ferret knows that his non-answer would be used by liberals like Milbank to attack him and keep him off message. Or try to.

Simply saying, "I believe Mr. Obama is a Christian and I believe he loves America" removes the entire debate.

Walker may think he can stay on his own message but the news media - which has its own interests - is not going to let him.

That may be unfair but it's reality.

MayBee said...

That may be unfair but it's reality.

I think he is trying to change this unfair reality.

PackerBronco said...

The basic problem with the question is that the reporter was in no way interested in the truth of the answer. Was the reporter actually doing an investigation entitled "Is Obama a Christian?" and then looking at Obama's actions, his church, his colleagues, etc.?

Of course he wasn't and in fact, would probably be offended at the notion of actually writing such a story.

So the question is unfair b/c it wasn't made in good faith. The reporter wasn't interested in the answer. The question he wanted to ask, but couldn't ask directly was: "Are you a bigot?"

When someone is trying to get you to answer one question by pretending to ask you a different question, "sod off" is the best response you can give. They are not being honest in their questioning and thus you owe them nothing.

Big Mike said...

Treacher sums it up nicely with his post: Scott Walker Isn’t Putting Up With The Media’s Bias, And Now They’re Pouting

Browndog said...

SMGalbraith said...

Ah, yes.

This message brought to you by-

"This is not the hill to fight on"

Written and Direct by The Republican National Establishment

Roy Lofquist said...

The pointy headed word is sophistry. In every day speak it's bullshit.

SMGalbraith said...

"I think he is trying to change this unfair reality."

He's not going to succeed.

It's going to take someone with better skills than him to do it.

I.e., Reaganesque skills. There's no evidence that he has such skills.

Taking on the left in Wisconsin is far different than taking on the national press.

FullMoon said...

If a person says he is Christian, many on the lsft mock them as believing the earth is 6,000 years old, and that evolution is a lie. "Science deniers". Does Obama believe in evolution? Is the earth 6,ooo years old?

FullMoon said...

The comments at the post are now favoring Walker. In fact, some on the other side are now calling Walker a science denier. Eventually, the left will get down to commenting on Walkers bald spot as a
dis qualifier.

Skeptical Voter said...

There's an article over at the New Yorker about Walker's "craven hijinks" in refusing to answer the gotcha questions.

There is some traction among the left; I've got a gay friend in San Diego who claimed that Walker was "hurt" but the gotcha question on evolution.

But out here among the great unwashed, the lefty journalists getting all wee wee'd up about the "dangerous" Scott Walker, and his refusal to answer their questions is simply viewed as "a good start".

Sebastian said...

Questions for libs: If the Religion of Peace is as lovable as we are led to believe, why is the president being Christian such a big deal? Are you saying it's better for someone to be a Christian? Or just politically convenient, until the time comes when it isn't?

Questions for Barry and Hillary: Do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, what, in your view, makes Christianity superior to other religions? Which tenets of other faiths do you consider to be false?

Todd said...

SMGalbraith said...
Simply saying, "I believe Mr. Obama is a Christian and I believe he loves America" removes the entire debate.


What if that would be a lie? Would you want him to say it cause it is the "political" thing to do? If I say I love dogs but every day I keep a dog chained up in the yard, mistreat it and neglect it, do I really love dogs? If I say I love my wife but then go ahead and try to change everything that makes her her, do I really love her? Any "straight" answer to the "love America" question or the "is a Christian" question is a "got yah" question because if he says yes, a big part of the base will call BS and if he says no, the media / liberals will smell blood in the water.

The best strategy is not to play. I think it answered it "OK". I would have rather he answer with the question of "Have you asked Hillary as she did not know a few years ago."

lilolvintner said...

The best revenge is to never subscribe to the Washington Post or any other journal that carries his columns. Ignore the morons and maybe they'll go away.

Michael said...

Todd

I agree that the questions should be answered with questions.

ie That is a good question! and I wonder if you are as interested as I am in why VP Biden is not condemned by Democrats for assaulting women.

Or, that is a great question! I think another you should ask is if Democrats are OK with Hillary taking contributions from foreign governments

Or, that is a brilliant question! I think it would be good to ask if Democrats are OK with former President Clinton being pals with a convicted pederast? How many rides did he get on the Lolita Express?

The gotcha questions will disappear if they are answered with questions that can't be edited out

DavidD said...

"[N]ormal, ordinary Americans ... know that economics and national security are what really matters in a President...."

Yet some of them apparently voted for Obama anyway. Hmmm.

Birches said...

Can I just say how pleased I am that Bryce Harper's "That's a clown question, bro" has entered the political lexicon.

Thanks Meade!

Sam L. said...

If Milbank is so upset with Gov. Walker, he needs to look into his own reasoning (if there is any, which I doubt), and ask himself if he's asking the right questions.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Packer Bronco nails it.
Don't fight on your opponent's chosen battlefield. And, of course Dana et al are Walker's opponents, not disinterested investigators.

mgarbowski said...

"Milbank uses the religion-related word as he attempts to crucify Walker...."
I not only see what you did there, but I think it's awesome.

BarrySanders20 said...

Another fundamental assumption that Milbank makes: that Walker considers Obama his opponent.

Where is the evidence for this?

Isn't the on-message Walker more likely to be focused on someone who can actually run for president when he does?

Whay should he care about what Obama thinks.

Now if the question was objective, like "Do you think Obama throws like a girl?" then the only answer is "Yes. Yes, I do."

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I always liked Hilary's answer about Obama's religion.

"He is not a Muslim. As far as I know."

Am I a Christian? If Asked i would likely answer yes. But when I think about it, as I lay in bed at night, I honestly don't know. I try to be but I know I fall short.

Too short to be a "Christian"? Only God knows that.

Do I try hard enough? Again only God knows that.

I'll find out soon enough so all I can do for now is the best I can.

John Henry

clarice said...

Dana Milbank is actually Jewish so I don't think he's an expert on Christianity.

ken in tx said...

"The next time you have a question like that, ask somebody else." This seems like a good response to clown questions. I heard it on NPR.

Jim said...

An Honest To Goodness Fisking! And who says blogs are dead?

Hendu said...

milbak is a turd.

deepelemblues said...

This Scott Walker fellow sure has this Dana Milbank fellow's jimmies all kinds of rustled up.

heyboom said...

And you'd be a better man, Dana Milbank...

Ain't ever going to happen. Ever.

Barry Dauphin said...

Maybe Walker could have said he had an easier time believing the president is a Christian than believing Milbank is a journalist.

John Burger said...

I enjoyed scrolling through the comments. They were awfully amusing. Milbanks seems completely unhinged in his criticism of Walker. Why should Walker take the bait? That question has as much legitimacy as asking, "Does President Obama like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?" What is Walker supposed to do, say something like, "well, probably, as most red-blooded Americans like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I prefer mine crunchy with grape jam on wheat bread"?

jvb

stan said...

I'll go out on a limb and stipulate that Milbank does not like logic, fairness or honesty. And takes every opportunity available to him to prove it.

zefal said...

The guy who would go on kieth olberman's show and question Bush and Cheney's patriotism, humanity, honesty horrified that Walker won't refute Giuliani's questioning of obama's patriotism, humanity, honesty. Who knew kieth was the saner one of the two?

PS I loved it when milbank went on dressed up in hunter wear to mock Cheney's hunting accident. I'm sure he would do the same if it had been a democrat.

iowan2 said...

Its taken a while to ferment the perfect answer to the lousy question.

Reporter: Do you believe Obama is a Christian.

Republican (that must be destroyed). That is an interesting question. I have not taken any time to think about it. I do know that Obama is a citizen of the world. He has a vast array of extensive experiences. Obama has identified the Muslim call to prayer as the must beautiful sound on the planet. Given all of that, Obama reports his conversion to Christianity happened when he answered an alter call in the Church of the Reverent Wright. Obama having a deep knowledge, understanding and practice of the Muslim faith, clearly has found the Muslim faith to be inferior to Christianity.

I let the facts speak for them self. I'm a strong believer in fact.

Thanks for asking.

RecChief said...

milbank's a hack, and he's just pissed that Walker didn't walk into a trap. If he had given an answer, Milbank would have said that answer, whatever it was, should disqualify Walker.

They're scared

zefal said...

iowan2, That's perfect.

Michael K said...

"sn't the on-message Walker more likely to be focused on someone who can actually run for president when he does?

Whay should he care about what Obama thinks."

Excellent point. He could say, "Why don't you ask me if Hillary is a Christian ?" I don't care about Obama."

dave72 said...

Oh Dana, sweetie, an attack of the vapors? Better go change your panties.

TML said...

Donald, did you mean "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"?

Derfel Cadarn said...

The real question i, why is the Lefty media so fixated on making Juggears into a Christian ? In ever other breath take exhale vitriol at the Christian faith. They must be embarrassed to admit he may be numbered among the goatf#ckers. Would not that make them islamophobic ?

Diggs said...

Is this going to help Democrats? This constant questioning about Obama's religion, when clearly most Americans feel that Obama is either a muslim or not religious at all. I don't see how this helps the Dems, and if it doesn't help the Dems, why is the media pursuing it?

richard mcenroe said...

"... and religion because it works so well to draw in normal, ordinary Americans who know that economics and national security are what really matters in a President but who find these topics boring and difficult."

And because in the eight years since they took Congress in 2006, the Democrats have nothing to show on those last two points.

SteveGW said...

Presumably, we're supposed to believe that sufficient evidence for Obama's Christianity is that he says he is a Christian and goes to church.

On the other hand, Obama is quite comfortable saying that large numbers of people who say they are Muslim and go to the mosque are not really Muslim.

jcr said...

I would greatly enjoy seeing Rand Paul, Scott Walker, or any other politician really take a reporter to task for asking impertinent questions like this.

"Do you believe Obama is a Christian?" "Do you believe you're scoring any points by asking trivial, useless questions? Try asking me whether Obama has betrayed everything he claimed to stand for when he was running for office, you snotty little prat."

Ritchie The Riveter said...

Scott Walker is all business ... like Indiana Jones was with the flashy swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

He's the kind of guy who engages in civil discourse, and therefore is less likely to be painted as a raving extremist* ... even as he rips the heart of the Democrat money-laundering operation like an Aztec priest.

He is arguably the most dangerous man in America, when it comes to continuance of the "Blue Social Model" paradigm that Progressives derive much of their self-worth (not to mention financial worth) from, even as it falls apart under its own weight and drags this nation towards an intergenerational decline.

That is why they threw everything they had at him, over the last four years ... and have shown themselves to have NOTHING but the clown questions left.

Scott Walker is too focused upon the business of governance, to clown around like they want him to.

----------
* though they will try ...

Moneyrunner said...

I think that it's particularly appropriate for Walker to refuse to answer the question on Obama's Christianity. Walker is a Baptist minister's son. A Baptist minister's son would be particularly sensitive to the question of who's a Christian and who is not. By the way, saying you're a Christian, even going to church (as Ann alluded to) does not make you a Christian. It's your relationship to God and Christ that defines your Christianity.

Moneyrunner said...

@SMGalbraith please seen my prior comment on what Christians believe. One of the other things they believe is that lying is a sin. So they want to avoid lying including making an assertion about another man's Christianity.

But from a strictly political perspective your suggestion is nonsense on stilts. Scott Walker's job isn't to get the vote of the MSM; that's not going to happen. His job is not to get them to like him so that they'll attack someone else. That won't happen as long as he's a serious candidate. His Job is to appeal to voters. And when you find that over half of the Democrats don't believe Obama's a Christian and nearly half the Republicans believe he's a Muslim, it would be incredibly stupid for Walker to lie and say that he believes Obama's a Christian.

You see, Walker is actually in touch with the average American. He knows wha they think, what they beleive, what they value. At this point the MSM and people like Milbank think they are doing damage to Walker. On the contrary, they are building his brand. Averring that Obama's a Christian would be the first step to denying his base. He's actually a very bright fellow.

Moneyrunner said...

I forgot to cite the poll on what people believe about Obama's faith. here it is.
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/02/shock-poll-majority-of-democrats-dont-believe-obama-is-a-christian/

Moneyrunner said...

A poll released Wednesday at a Washington Post blog site buries the news that a majority of Democrats do not believe Obama is a Christian. Instead the article focuses on a slim majority of Republicans (fifty-four percent) thinking Obama is a Muslim. At this point in his presidency, Republicans thinking Obama is a closet Muslim is not news.

What is news is that Obama’s fellow Democrats think he is lying about being a Christian.

According to the poll conducted last fall and released Wednesday, only forty-five percent of Democrats believe Obama is a Christian at heart. Twenty-six percent don’t know what Obama believes, seventeen percent think Obama is “spiritual” while ten percent think Obama is a Muslim. Two percent say Obama is an atheist.

Only nine percent of Republicans and sixteen percent of independents believe Obama is a Christian.

The poll asked respondents:

“Which of these do you think most likely describes what Obama believes deep down? Muslim, Christian, atheist, spiritual, or I don’t know.”

The Post credit the author of the article and poll reads:

“Alex Theodoridis is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Merced.

“Note: The survey was conducted as part of the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. The CCES was conducted by the survey firm YouGov in two waves in October and November of 2014. The sampling frame was American adults and the sample size for this particular question about Obama’s religion was 1,000. Respondents were interviewed on-line. Further information about the YouGov sampling methodology is here, here, and here.

Moneyrunner said...

For Scott Walker to assert that he knows Obama's a Christian is - from a political perspective, hair-raising stupid.

Steve in Philly said...

Oh, if only Walker had answered forthrightly, 'That's above my pay grade' he would be qualified!

Delayna said...

"Simply saying, "I believe Mr. Obama is a Christian and I believe he loves America" removes the entire debate."

Just give the bully your lunch money and that'll be the end of it.

deadrody said...

The truth is, Scott Walker does indeed need to stop playing nice with these people and point out a clown question for what it is.

The proper answer to "Do you think Obama is a Christian ?" is to ask the interviewer, "Why would you ask my opinion of the President's Christianity?"

Patrick McGuinness said...

"This is not a matter of conjecture. The correct answer is yes: Obama is Christian"

Other than Obama saying that he is, there really is little record to suggest Obama is a sincere believing Christian.

Maybe he is. But he seems to have made politically motivated statements. And we've seen how Obama's claims to oppose gay marriage in 2008 or to promise 'if you like your plan you can keep it' have turned out to be dishonest.

so... yeah, the CORRECT answer is indeed "We don't know. Ask him."


I could imagine a pastor, noticing how the drone-killing nobel peace prize winning fan of Islam seems to slam and denigrate Christianity and not get Christian matters of faith, at some church saying "I don't think Obama is a Christian in the way you or I are."

Moneyrunner said...

"Simply saying, "I believe Mr. Obama is a Christian and I believe he loves America" removes the entire debate."

I was unaware of a debate taking place. Or is "debate" the term used by the Left for a stupid question?

henkeeper said...

Ronald Reagan answers "Is Obama a Christian?

Gracious me. I think only God knows that for sure. If you can’t get an on-the-record with Him, I suggest you check in with Hillary’s campaign. I understand they have already addressed your question. Next….

Fen said...

Isn't Dana Milbank that guy who was arrested for having sex with animals? We should ask him.

Fen said...

"This is not a matter of conjecture. The correct answer is yes: Obama is Christian"

No. The correct answer is "I don't know".

I do know that he sat in a church and listened to hateful black liberation theology speeches on how "blacks will never accept the love of a God that does not participate in the destruction of the white race". But I don't think those people are Christians.

I do know that he was raised as a Muslim but lapsed, and that Islam considers him apostate of something. Maybe because he converted to another faith? Don't remember.

And I do know that presidents avoid weekly church-going because their security detail makes it a nightmare for everyone else there, so they avoid church services as a courtesy to others.

But I don't really know if Obama is a Christian, and I don't really care either. Why is it an important question again? I thought the Left didn't care for theocracy?

What I DO know is that Dana Milbank is a pathetic little bitch who will be amoung the first thrown up against the wall if a revolution ever comes. I hope I'm there to see it.

Bruce Hayden said...

You see, Walker is actually in touch with the average American.

I don't know if I would go that far. But, I think definitely in touch with the Republican base, and a lot of independents.

My thoughts here are that this sort of thing is going to gain him more votes than he will lose, by a long shot. One of the big complaints about both McCain and Romney is that they never really took the fight to the enemy. They always played by the left's rules, and ultimately lost as a result. And, a big part of that was the MSM pulling so hard for Obama. They were going to lie, cheat, and steal to get their guy elected, and did, and playing their game is self-defeating.

Californio_6th_ gen said...

[sung to "Jesus loves me"]
"Muslims love me this I know, for Obama tells me so, little ones to him belong, we're misled 'cause he is wrong. Yes, Muslims love me, yes Muslims love me, Yes Muslims love me, Obama tells me so."

JAL said...

And you'd be a better man, Dana Milbank, if you didn't pose as if you were saying something nice about Scott Walker and inviting him to a higher level of civil discourse.

It certainly didn't seem like Milbank was trying to say something nice about Walker. Au contraire.

The fact is Walker has seen this Br'er Fox tar-baby thingey multiple times before and he simply isn't playing. He isn't into wasting time and/or feeding the monster. And the left is pissed out of its ever lovin' mind.

Althouse comes down on Milbank pretty well, but should have left him on the ground in the last paragraph, with one last kick.

Martin said...

A worm like Milbank passing judgment on what would make Scott Walker "a better man." Too rich!!

mitch said...

✞⚡✟IT IS AN INDISPUTABLE FACT ✞⚡✟ that there have been numerous studies to determine what percentage of those claiming to be Christian are actually "saved" according to Biblical stands. Which logically are the only standards we could possibly use to determine this question.
The very best studies have found the number to be 5% to 10%.
Unlike islam, buddhism, hinduism, or political parties one can not be a Christian just because one says so. And this is absolutely NOT because any person says it is this way. It is because the LORD who died to make becomeing a Christian possible said so. And HE gave warning that many would use HIS name falsly.

rduke said...

I'm a WI boy, who lived in DC for a while, so I suffered Milbank a little closer than I care to admit...met him at a wine tasting of all things and he didn't deign to acknowledge me when I said hi. He's a journalistic toad, burrupping at every imagined slight. He's definitely small ball and way too enraptured with his sense of self importance. Undeservedly, his WaPo job gives him way more publicity than he deserves. The WaPo is turning into fishwrap, despite Bezos's effort to hide the decline. Surprised he keeps him on.

Annie said...

While Muslims worldwide are killing Christians at the rate of one every five minutes, our President is criticizing Christians who lived hundreds of years ago (crusaders), and protecting Muslims from "bigotry".

When Parents magazine asked him and Michelle if their daughters went to Sunday school, they said, " No, they go to school Monday through Friday like other kids."

When Olympia Snow said Obama couldn't eat her lunch because his food taster wasn't there, no ones mind was to wonder why this vehicle of ancient kings was being used today...nor were we to wonder if it was because he didn't know if it met his strict dietary guidelines against consuming any pork.

In this case, "I don't know" was probably the only Honest answer!

sociology minded reader said...

Excellent!
Forget about the people involved here.
Read this as if it were an essay about how people's minds allocate resources/understanding to each topic.
"As I child, I often found myself in a Christian church with a congregation singing "Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart." Dana Milbank, do you understand why that lyric is experienced as profound, or would you scoff "Why are these idiots pestering God about wanting to be something that they obviously are? The correct lyric is 'Thanks, Lord, for making me a Christian'"? Why are you the arbiter of what is correct in Christianity? Why aren't you more of an agnostic? Your non-agnosticism here is insidious, invidious, and perfidious."