February 25, 2015

The Globe’s resident wingnut has written another Gem. This time he’s trying to help Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s damage-control efforts in the wake of his feigned ignorance of President Obama’s religion.  Jacoby thinks that, on the one hand, the 2016 Republican presidential prospect shouldn’t have to respond to questions about the president’s religion, and on the other hand, shouldn’t be expected to know that President Obama is a Christian. A tall order to be sure and Jacoby comes up well short.  For an example of an intelligent analysis of this issue from a conservative perspective, read this offering from New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.  The contrast should make the editors of the Boston Globe weep.


Jacoby likes to play make-believe.  In his world, Republicans have not made the president’s religion an issue, and therefore shouldn’t have to face questions about it.  Only a liar, a fool, or someone who was in a coma during the last two presidential elections could make this argument with a straight face.  Scott Walker’s answers to easy questions about science and religion are problematic because the route to the 2016 Republican nomination goes through Tea Party Land, where science is a liberal conspiracy and the president is a Muslim from Kenya.


Jacoby’s ham handed effort to spin this as unfair questioning from the “liberal media” is standard rightwing deflection.  These are “gotcha” questions that reporters ask all pols, and they are big news when the subject is a big name who gets got, so to speak.  His argument for why Walker’s claim of ignorance is credible and not unreasonable is something else.  In order to make it seem as though the question about the President’s faith is unreasonable, Jacoby argues that public opinion surveys show that lots of Americans are unsure about President Obama’s faith.  He cites a Pew survey that asks, Do you happen to know what Barack Obama’s religion is?” which found only 45% of those surveyed correctly identified the President’s religion.  Sixteen percent thought he was a Muslim.


So, Jacoby believes that Scott Walker, the highly partisan Republican Governor of Wisconsin has paid so little attention to his own party’s rhetoric over the last 6 years that he should only be expected to know as much about his own party’s rhetoric as average Americans responding to a poll.  Not graduating from college definitely doesn’t reveal anything about one’s intelligence, his responses to questions about science and the President’s religion, however, do present clear evidence that Governor Walker is either stupid or dishonest.  I guarantee you that Jacoby wouldn’t consider as authoritative public opinion polling data on the question of Walker’s honesty here.


Why does the Globe continue to publish this embarrassingly stupid commentary?  Apparently phony notions of “fair and balanced” are not the exclusive province of Fox News.

Ross Douthat, Scott Walker, Jeff Jacoby

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