When I was blogging back in the day, I used to joke that I had brevity issues. I put the word “rambles” in the name of my blog as fair warning. I would never be able to tweet, I used to say, because I couldn’t say “good morning” in 140 characters or less. Now that I’m writing a lot at OnMilwaukee, and I have an editor, I am more self-conscious about length than old me.
But Jessica McBride, in a column over at OnMilwaukee this week, puts old me to shame: She takes more than 2100 words to defend the idea that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will most certainly definitely yessir will be president someday.
If just hearing that makes you think the lady doth protest too much, then you get where I’m coming from.
McBride actually does a nice job explaining some of what I was trying to get at a few weeks back in my own OnMilwaukee column, that Walker has slotted himself into the position of hero in a narrative that his base–evangelical anti-government reactionaries–can both identify with and fill with their own projected wants and desires.
Or, as McBride puts it, “It’s visceral, not logical. He’s fearless. He’s strong. He stands his ground.” That’s why, she explains, facts and truth don’t matter to his base; they have the Walker-as-hero narrative and need nothing else.
Indeed, McBride–who came up in the Milwaukee commentary scene as an acolyte of Charlie Sykes, one of Walker’s biggest cheerleaders, at the time Walker was running Milwaukee County and planning his first run for governor–seems to hold that Walker-as-hero narrative in almost as much contempt as I do. She damns Walker with the faintest of praise, suggesting his inevitable election as president has more to do with his resemblance to a blank wall, stubbornly immoveable and ready for projection, than to any actual policy ideas or governing strategy.
Which is why McBride’s opening lines surprise me, as they swallow some of the greatest Republican myth-making of the last few years. “The world has become a really scary place,” she intones, offering as evidence ISIS, Ebola, and a “still-sputtering economy.”
ISIS is awful, yes, but hardly a threat to this country or reason for any American to be afraid. There is literally no one with Ebola in the country as I write this. And the economy is growing at its fastest clip since 2003, according to data out this week. If she’s so attuned to phony narrative, how is that she falls for it here?
The charitable answer is that she’s being ironic, seeming to embrace the rubes’ worldview to win their trust before scolding them about their unexamined Walker love later in her massive missive.
But I don’t think that’s true, because McBride embraces every available anti-Obama, anti-Clinton (Bill and Hilary), anti-Democrat myth manufactured in the last twenty years, as shiny and unchallenged as the day they were hatched at the right-wing looney bin.
She has Obama perpetually golfing, Hilary responsible for Benghazi, the Clintons’ everything-must-benefit-me sociopathy.
“No one believes in Obama’s ‘the world will love us if we would just be nicer to the world!’ naiveté anymore,” she stammers, forgetting that Obama’s military has bombed more countries than the two Bushes combined at this point, and, dammit, he’s the one who got bin Laden. Dubya Bush may have said “Bring ’em on,” but Obama has actually played the Clint Eastwood role she envisions for Scott Walker more than Baby Bush ever could.
She missed Solyndra and mom jeans, but otherwise all the hysteria is there.
But why? Part of the protest. I can’t imagine a world where Scott Walker survives one minute under a national spotlight. But McBride can, and needs a full novella to talk herself into it. Walker only looks plausible if she can shoehorn him into a veritable mountain of bullshit.
Even St. Ronaldus de Tampico falls victim to McBride’s willing embrace of false narrative: “Not having a college degree?” she asks of Walker, and answers, “Won’t matter to people. After all, Reagan was just an actor.”
Look, I hate the Reagan legacy, and moreso the fake Reagan current conservatives have carved onto their mental Rushmores. But Reagan had a degree, and a respected career in journalism and as union power-broker, besides acting and before standing for a single election. Walker dropped out of college and has never made a living doing anything but running for office. If McBride thinks Walker can compare favorably to Reagan–and as I am sure Reagan was history’s greatest monster, this really hurts to say–she is off her rocker entirely.
But she has to be. Though McBride has mellowed since her Charlie Sykes days, she bears a hand in both Walker’s creation that of his mythos. The internet from the ’00s is littered with my rambles and McBride’s Big-Gummit-as-Goliath commentary. Her David is here, is planning to run for president, and damned if she didn’t just talk herself into thinking it could come true.