UPDATE: After you read this, find out how MJS tipped its hand in coverage of Ms. Burke’s first ad.
In an effort to taxonomize the diverse personalities who compose today’s Democrats, let’s add to the list the high-minded thinkers, disconnected from the reality of their party’s politics. They thrive by maintaining a snobbish beyond-reproach style. They’re the Democrat Highbrow. As a primer, be sure to read all about the Sinicki Democrats, whose blabbermouthing makes them especially dangerous, insofar as they offer nothing superior in the realm of ideas but are champions of shouting screeds at higher decibels than the opposition.
The Democrat High-Brow compose those in the wing of the Party that think they’re superior to the Sinicki Democrats for their ability to formulate arguments against the governor without calling him names like Scruff Farter, have a cogent grip on policy, and might even eschew the Democrat label for something like liberal or progressive or avant-garde or pinko.
These are the Democrats who, on their stoop of superiority, manifestly revel in the childish opportunity to laugh at the perils of the political opposition, without the validation of intellectual analysis.
In a recent flurry of aggressive, shoe-leather journalism, these Dolts breathlessly analyzed supposed voter fraud committed by Scott Walker. As was snickered in the Capital Times:
But even if we grant Walker the benefit of the doubt that he did not illegally vote in an election for president as an adolescent, the quote gives Democrats another reason to chortle over recent instances of Wisconsin Republicans engaging in voter fraud.
Further, this paragraph reveals the Democrats’ dogmatic imperative to win by destroying the opposition, not presenting superior policy.
The writer, Jack Craver, would likely eschew the Democrat label, and point to his criticism of Graham Zielinski as evidence. But as he was described on Uppity Wisconsin in 2012, he’s “the liberal guy that is always pointing out the flaws of his own tribe with his dazzling 20-something hipster punditry.”
These fence-straddling Democrats survive on chai mocha lattes and derision of Republicans, without the obligation to bring anything smart to the table, because they hold themselves above any internal dissension. They’re a real threat to the Democrat Establishment, which is well-known for coordinating unity against Republicans and welcoming adherents of all kinds of lefty kookery. That’s obvious from Uppity’s name-calling.
There’s reliably anti-right John Nichols, proselytizing On High his high-minded liberalism. As soon as someone dismisses the media as soft on conservatives or unfair to Democrats, he loses any ounce of credibility. I’ve read Mr. Nichols’ work for a while with the understanding that he and I are ideological enemies. He breathlessly reported the uprising in Madison following the Walker Administration’s reforms and persisted through the recall efforts. But his delighted-schoolgirl routine cheering on the perceived horrible month the governor endured in February strains credulity: Not only does he launch himself above the political fray as a progressive looking in, but also elevates Mary Burke to a similar level. He argues that the media, particularly the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have finally stopped going soft on Mr. Walker, and are but finally demanding real answers. This sort of coverage has in turn given new life to the Democrat base, previously uninspired by Mary Burke, suddenly re-enraged and ready to play ball. Perhaps this means there will be more choir groups in the Capitol Rotunda and that MSNBC hosts will once again grace the lawn of the Capitol in protesting solidarity. Finally, the grim revelations of last months benign e-mails do little to help Mr. Walker’s image, when he’s associated with racists and bigots bureaucrats putting politics above policy. This is, apparently, a symptom unique to Republican administrations. In concert, this series of events has elevated Mary Burke’s position, and given her an opportunity to grow as a candidate. Mr. Nichols laments,
Burke won’t make the emails, or the controversies involving Walker’s aides and legislative allies, the central theme of her campaign. That would take her away from what has to be the primary focus of a candidacy that is only now beginning to identify itself in the eyes of the broader electorate. Burke has to remain focused on developing a clear economic program — and on communicating about it consistently and passionately. Ultimately, this is what matters most in a challenge to a governor whose austerity agenda has not come close to creating the 250,000 new jobs he promised.
This will be the crux of Ms. Burke’s campaign, as we’ve already argued, and any agenda she presents will be flimsy. Her entire candidacy this far is purely political, and Mr. Nichols’ belief this will change is delusion. It’s the kind of thinking reserved for those Democrats who are probably pretty smart, and, when pushed to think critically about their positions, realize at some level that leftist politic is folderol.
It’s also the duped thinking that reserves judgment for Republican groups who spend money on ad campaign buys, but either excuses or ignores the same actions of ThinkProgress (funded by a billionaire!) or One Wisconsin Now or EMILY’s List, which is already in the bag for Ms. Burke.
Still bruised from losing two governor’s races in as many years, the Democrats are ready for a win; Mr. Nichols acknowledged as much. With high stakes, the grassroots will be enflamed and ready, but so will the big spenders nationally. Here the Democrats may have the upper-hand; they’ve won the narrative that the Republicans are the party of big-spenders, still alluding to relationships between Mr. Walker and the Koch Brothers, and the big media spend provided by the Republican Governors Association. Now any media buy on par or exceeding those already made will be couched in terms of a political defense strategy, demonizing the mean ol’ Republicans who drew the first blood; they’d just be playing catch-up.
Ms. Burke likely fits into this category of the Democrat High-Brow, but there’s not enough known about her to formulate that decision. Before being tapped to run, she might have been more apolitical than activist, though her record on the Madison School Board exhibits reliable tendencies of a good-hearted Democrat.
She certainly will not dive into the ugly depths of caterwauling profanities like dear Chrissy Sinicki.