The Journal Sentinel has an interesting take on the news generated out of an editorial board meeting it had with Tea-Party-Talk-Radio (TPTR) senate candidate Ron Johnson. During the meeting, Johnson sat on Patrick McIlheran’s lap and mouthed some demonstrable nonsense about sun spots causing global warming. While McIlheran applauded and other members of the board stifled laughter, Johnson went on to babble more WMC talking points, before drifting off into irrelevant facts, such as – he gets his water from a well. I mean, he gets his water from a well, for cryin’ out loud! Of course he cares. Jeez. What about CO2, though, asks a board member not named McIlheran. “It gets sucked into trees and makes the trees grow,” says Johnson. Oh...sure. The next logical follow-up – “What the hell are you talking about?” – remains annoyingly unasked.
Just another day in the life of the gaffe-prone Johnson; the Wisconsin version of the hilarious TPTR Nevada senate “candidate” Sharron Angle. The only reason we don’t get more comedic material from Johnson is because, like other TPTR amateurs across the country, the supposed “non-politician” has been taken under the oppressive wing of career GOP political operatives, who control his every movement and feed him his rehearsed party lines. Like Angle – who the Nevada media has taken to chasing down the street just to get any comment from her at all – Johnson remains sheltered from regular contact with the real-world media by his omnipresent handlers, preferring to submit to the gentle stroking and heavy petting of the right-wing talk radio hosts who pushed him into the race in the first place. So it’s not a surprise that Johnson would put his foot in his mouth, spending five minutes in over his head, fumbling the climate change ball around the room.
McIlheran weighed in on Johnson’s obvious cluelessness on important issues this week, taking pride in the fact that his preferred TPTR senate candidate “lacks some customary tools”. It is “refreshing” to Paddy Mac to see a relative nincompoop carrying his TPTR banner into the fall election. Johnson has “the look of a guy who didn't plan his life around winning office”. Well, he also has the look of a deer in the headlights any time he is asked to discuss the details of a serious issue in serious times. He can’t just expect to show up on the Senate floor spouting meaningless TPTR bromides about “tyranny” or threats to “liberty” and “freedom” from some piece of legislation enacted by democratically-elected congressmen and presidents. Or can he?
Besides – against all logic – continuing to employ McIlheran, the J-S also serves the Republican cause by trying to make excuses for Johnson’s wacky comments on its front page this morning. The paper headlines the “news” that Johnson is “not alone” in being totally out to lunch on climate change. Misery and ignorance apparently love company in the GOP ranks, and that’s good enough for the Journal Sentinel.
Johnson’s “views are in line with those of many Republican conservatives,” writes reporter Lee Burgquist, as if that’s any validation of anything at all. Burgquist does go through the no-doubt tedious and inconvenient process of confirming with a real scientist that Johnson’s position has about as much validity at saying the earth is flat. “Still,” writes Burgquist (“still”??), “‘Johnson is reflecting conservative Republican skepticism about man-made global warming,’” quoting a UW-Madison political scientist, stating the obvious.
This creates a new standard for fact-based political discourse. Apparently, as long as there are enough Republicans with their heads up their ass about a given subject, it doesn’t matter if you have your head up your ass, too. Johnson gets a pass for his idiotic comments because all Republicans make the same idiotic comments.
But the Journal Sentinel, as it does every election cycle, accepts Republican spin and repeatedly takes GOP candidates off the hook for gaffes and stupidity, big and small. If a Democrat came out and said something demonstrably false about climate change, the budget deficit or anything else, the J-S would need no help from the TPTR media to pounce and make a big issue out of a politician who does not know what he’s talking about having the temerity to ask for our vote. Because we expect so little from them, Republicans are held to a different standard. Which, if the Journal Sentinel keeps moving the goalposts, will eventually be no standard at all.
P.S.: The brilliant Illy-T has had Ron Johnson and Patrick McIlheran’s number for some time.