I've already said my piece on Rudy, Obama, patriotism, and double standards -- so I won't recapitulate my argument here. But I will continue to note that much of the media is still in a tizzy about Gov. Scott Walker's answer to an irrelevant, gotcha question from the Washington Post. Walker made clear that he wasn't interested in pontificating about the president's personal religious views, and that such inquiries help explain why so much of the public detests and distrusts the news media:
"To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” he said. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.” Walker said he did not believe that most Americans care about such matters.“People in the media will [judge], not everyday people,” he said. “I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue.” After the interview was completed, Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster telephoned The Washington Post to say the governor was trying to make a point of principle by not answering such kinds of questions, not trying to cast doubt on Obama’s faith.
Faulty premise-rejecting and maneuvering around hostile media filters has been staples of Walker's communications strategy in Wisconsin. Some in the national commentariat seem determined to force Walker -- and other Republican candidates -- to remain trapped in this one-sided game. Columnist Dana Milbank, who was exposed for grossly distorting an event he attended last year in order to promulgate an anti-conservative storyline, has now written his second column excoriating Walker, howling that the governor's "insidious" response allows him to "wink and nod at the far-right fringe." This is nonsense. Walker was asked an unserious question. He refused to take it seriously and chided his questioners for asking it. This wasn't some secret "dogwhistle" to hardcore righties; it was an attempt to rebuff silly season media stunts. Incidentally, a 2012 Gallup poll revealed that a plurality of Americans weren't sure what faith, if any, President Obama practices:
In fact, Obama is a professing Christian, who attended -- ahem -- this church for two decades. Some have pointed out that one of Obama's seven-figure PAC donors said he believes the president to be an Atheist without provoking a furious outcry. Jim Geraghty also reminds us that Obama isn't above lying about matters of faith for political purposes:
Obama [made a] 2008 declaration to Rick Warren at Saddleback Church that “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix...” That seemingly devout profession of faith was, we now know, BS . . . told to a pastor . . . in a church. So the notion that some of Obama’s public comments about his faith might really be vote-chasing showmanship and spin really isn’t the most unthinkable conclusion...
Let's cut through the noise: Public confusion an/or ambivalence about President Obama's faith didn't prevent him from being re-elected a few months after the above Gallup survey was taken. "I don't know, I don't care, and it's ridiculous of you to ask," is an entirely reasonable answer for someone in Walker's position to have given. I'll leave you with a debate from last night's O'Reilly Factor, in which my co-author, Mary Katharine Ham, trains her fire on media hypocrisy and drastically uneven standards for Republicans and Democrats:
Thanks to host Bill O'Reilly and team for the short End of Discussion plug at the end of the segment.