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“Scott Walker And The Masters Of Deceit”: Tailoring His Views To The Particular Audience He Is Addressing

As Scott Walker finally makes his presidential bid official today, National Journal‘s Tim Alberta wonders if the candidate can perpetually get away with tailoring his views to the particular audience he is addressing. That certainly seems to be the calculation in Walker-land:

[A]ccording to Walker allies, he’s going to pursue exactly the opposite strategy Romney used in 2012. Whereas Romney started in the middle and moved rightward throughout primary season, Walker is starting on the right and will shift toward the middle.

“You start in Iowa and lock up conservatives, because if you don’t do that, none of the rest matters,” said one longtime Walker adviser, who requested anonymity to discuss campaign strategy. “It’s much easier to move from being a conservative to being a middle-of-the-road moderate later on.”

The adviser added: “In Iowa, you see the beginnings of that. He’s capturing that conservative wing first and foremost, and then moving from Iowa to the other states and bringing other voters into the fold.”

Pretty candid, I’d say, particularly when you remember the brouhaha that erupted in 2012 when Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom talked about the “pivot” his candidate was about to execute after locking up the GOP nomination:

“Everything changes,” Mr. Fehrnstrom, 50, said on CNN, with a slight smirk that suggested he believed he was about to use a clever line. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

So here’s a Walker “adviser” (who did have the good sense to stay unnamed) saying the same sort of thing. Won’t there be some angry recriminations from conservatives who are being told Walker’s going to start sounding like a different person once Iowa is in the bag?

Maybe, but it’s worth thinking about the subject Alberta uses at the top of his story to demonstrate Walker’s slippery nature:

“I’m pro-life,” Scott Walker said, looking directly into the camera. “But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

That was last October, less than a month before Election Day, when the Wisconsin governor was locked in a tight reelection battle with Democrat Mary Burke. Her allies were attacking Walker for signing a bill that required women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. He responded with this memorable 30-second ad, part of an ongoing effort to soften Walker’s image in the eyes of on-the-fence voters. In deeply polarized Wisconsin, they would decide the race. Exit polling shows they broke to him: Walker beat Burke among independents by 11 points en route to winning a second term.

Walker will announce Monday that he’s running for president. And dovetailing with the campaign launch will be a ceremony in which the governor signs into law a 20-week abortion ban that makes no exception for rape or incest. This hard-line stance on abortion, juxtaposed against the tone he struck on the issue last fall, provides a window into Walker’s political style and helps explain how he got to this point.

That “hard-line stance” has been packaged across the country with the very rhetoric about “safety” and “information” that Walker used in his gubernatorial campaign. The latter is a deliberate deception to make medically unnecessary and onerous requirements imposed on abortion providers and the women seeking their services sound innocuous. And it’s part of a long, long pattern of deceit by antichoicers who act as though they’re only concerned with women’s health and rare late-term abortions even as they fight with each other as to whether an outright ban on all abortions should include a rape-incest exception or perhaps even extend to “abortifacient” birth control methods like IUDs. So they’re not exactly going to be upset at Scott Walker for playing the same game:

“Even as he cut that abortion ad, there isn’t a single pro-life voter in the state who suddenly thinks he’s pro-choice,” said Matt Batzel, executive director of American Majority, a conservative activist group. “They know he shares their views.”

You could undoubtedly say the same about Walker’s business backers, who may well have laughed up their sleeves during this last campaign when the good and gentle governor disclaimed any interest in passing a right-to-work law–which is practically the first thing that happened after he was safely returned to office.

So perhaps there is something about Scott Walker that inspires the kind of trust in ideologues which makes a little deception now and then acceptable so long as it produces electoral victories and he delivers the goods in the end.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, July 13, 2015

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Iowa, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wildly Misleading Pernicious Ads”: Sabotaging Health Care, One Lie At A Time

A Koch-brothers funded conservative group, Generation Opportunity, is out with a wildly misleading, pernicious set of ads aimed at sabotaging the Affordable Care Act by discouraging young people from signing up for health insurance exchanges.

One’s aimed at young men, the other at young women. In the “for him” version, an actor tells his doctor that he saw an ad for the Affordable Care Act and “figured, why not?” The doctor tells him to take his pants off, “hop up here, lay down and bend your knees to your chest.” He leaves the room. Then a man wearing an Uncle Sam mask snaps on a blue glove. As if the message weren’t perfectly clear, the ad states: “Don’t let government play doctor.”

The “for her” version is much the same, except in that case Uncle Sam’s performing a gynecological exam.

The ads are as offensive as they are derivative.

During the 2012 campaign, the reproductive rights site Lady Parts Justice released a web video attacking laws requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before receiving abortions. In that spot, a woman with her feet in stirrups explains that she wants an abortion because she’s “just not emotionally or financially ready to have kids right now.” The doctor, sitting between her legs, responds, “OK, well, just so you know, the law says that before I can do that, I need to do some things to you that you need to pay extra for. You know, just some things that will help you better understand what it is you really want.” These “things” include inserting a camera into her vagina and looking at pictures of what’s inside her uterus.

But that video made sense—states actually did pass laws interfering with the doctor-patient relationship—whereas the Generation Opportunity ads perpetuate outright lies. Young people who sign up for exchanges won’t be getting access to government-run healthcare (if only they were!), but to privately run insurance. Nor does the A.C.A. force doctors to ask patients about their sex lives or perform unwanted exams—as Politifact explained recently. Under the A.C.A., government doesn’t “play doctor,” it merely enables access to doctors who then decide, using their professional judgment, the best course of action.

Signing up for an exchange isn’t an act of political (or sexual) submission. It’s just a way to get insurance if you don’t have a job or your employer doesn’t provide it. The Generation Opportunity crowd surely knows that and obviously doesn’t care because its priority now, as ever, is bringing down President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. The group also doesn’t care about the possibility that some number of young people, scared by its ads, will forego access to affordable care, get sick, and go bankrupt paying their medical bills.

 

By: Julie Lapidos, Opinion Pages Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, September 23, 2013

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Letting The Mask Slip”: Richard Mourdock, The Latest Entrant Into The Republican Rape Insensitivity Bake-Off

Dear everyone asking what it is about Republican candidates and their clumsy talk about rape: This is a feature, not a bug.

The latest entrant into the Republican rape insensitivity bake-off is Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said tonight that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” He, of course, joins fellow Senate candidate Todd Akin, with his now-canonical “legitimate rape” comment, and Rep. Joe Walsh, running for election in Illinois, who claimed there was no reason a woman would ever need an abortion to save her life or preserve her health. The trailblazer was Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle, who failed to unseat Harry Reid in Nevada two years ago, and famously said that if a hypothetical teenager was raped and impregnated by her father, it was an opportunity to turn “a lemon situation into lemonade.”

Here’s why this is happening: The newer crop of Republican candidates and elected officials are, more often than not, straight from the base. They’re less polished than their predecessors; they’re more ideologically pure. As a result, they’ve accidentally been letting the mask slip and showing what’s really at the core of the right-to-life movement.

For years, the movement has fought plausible charges that it is anti-woman by repackaging its abortion restrictions, in Orwellian fashion, as protections for women. They’ve done it so successfully that until recently, when so many alleged “gaffes” went viral, no one really noticed. What is the so-called Women’s Health Defense Act? A proposed ban on abortion before viability. What are “informed consent” laws purporting to give women all the information they need before having abortions? Forced ultrasounds, transvaginal, and some of them involving the forced viewing of the ultrasound, at the woman’s expense, under the stated supposition that she has no idea what’s growing inside her unless someone makes her look. (Never mind that 60 percent of women who have abortions have already given birth at least once.)

Where does rape come into this? If you doubt that the abortion obsession in this country is about sex more than it is about “babies,” just look to all this agonized public parsing about “legitimate rape” and “forcible rape.” Americans are, at least in theory, sensitive to survivors of rape, whose bodies have been cruelly used against their will, and they see a forced pregnancy as further suffering. The corollary, of course, is that pregnancy is the just punishment for consensual sex, or, if you think an embryo or fetus is the same as a person, that rape justifies capital punishment. But most people don’t think in those consistent absolutes, which is the reason that the antiabortion movement has sometimes conceded to rape exceptions, as Mitt Romney has — they’re willing to suffer them, occasionally, as a sort of gateway drug toward stigmatizing and marginalizing all abortion.

For now, antiabortion absolutists have some explaining to do, and they’re doing it very, very badly. That’s because they aren’t used to cloaking their views in the rhetoric of compassion, something George W. Bush was so much better at. They’re used to how the base talks about this stuff among themselves, when it’s open about seeing women as vessels whose decision-making is subsumed to God’s plan or to baby making. (Paul Ryan is ideologically aligned with this crowd, but usually has the political skills and earnest manner to keep him out of trouble. When he got asked in the debate about religion, he answered by talking about “science.”)

But every time a Republican politician says what he (usually he) really thinks about all this, we can ask ourselves the following: What are you if you think women have no idea what they’re doing when they have an abortion, that they need the law to bully them, if not to change their minds, then to make things as difficult as possible for them?

What are you if you think a woman’s right to her own body should be entirely subordinate to the possibility of an hours-old fertilized egg, and thus want to ban emergency contraception, as Akin does? What are you if you essentially render a pregnant woman an incubator, as Akin did when he described pregnancy as, “All you add is food and climate control, and some time, and the embryo becomes you or me”? What with all of the double-talk, I’ll be plain. You’re a misogynist.

By: Irin Carmon, Salon, October 24, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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