There really are times when life imitates The New Republic. These are rarely pleasant or laudable times; but it does happen. A recent play in Brazil’s opening World Cup match vs. Croatia reminded me a lot of a recent article by Alec McGillis in TNR. I’ll describe each and you’ll immediately see the resemblance.
In the soccer game that pitted Brazil vs. Croatia, Brazilian Forward Fred worked the referees to a fare-thee-well and drew a cheap penalty in the box that resulted in an easy goal. Croatia had obviously been out-connived and the cynical play by Fred carried the day as Brazil went on to a 3-1 victory. This sort of shenanigans goes on all the time in professional sports. NFL punters, NBA players and most infamously, professional soccer players take the dive to create artificial penalties all the time. It’s an ungentlemanly ruse; but is sometimes effective and rarely seriously penalized. Therefore the Cost-Benefit Analysis suggests that professional athletes should cheat like this more often.
The recent article by McGillis attempts a similarly disingenuous ploy. It essentially accuses Scott Walker of being a racist for talking to talk radio hosts who say mean things about a Black Member of Congress and winning election as governor by racking up votes in predominantly White suburbs. To give you an idea of just how desperate McGillis was to throw scum against a wall and make it stick, we get treated to the following telling anecdotes.
At age seven, in tiny Plainfield, Iowa, where Reverend Walker served on the town council, Scott founded the “Jesus USA Club” and would hop up on an improvised soapbox to raise money for a state flag outside the village hall. Not long after that, his family moved to Delavan, a small manufacturing town in southern Wisconsin. Walker went door to door to campaign for a classmate’s father who was running for local office. Walker’s parents told me that his teacher asked him why he was doing that. “Because he’s a good man,” he informed her.
The fires of hatred burn! We get this held out as example of racism in a publication that had no problems endorsing a guy for POTUS who sat around listening to Jeremiah Wright deliver his bigoted Jeremiads. “Waz’ up US of KKK-A?!” And from the Alec McGillis peanut-gallery we could have heard the crickets chirping. To give you an idea of just how slanted and pathetic the TNR has truly become, we get treated to accusations that this link to Politifact Wisconsin basically debunks.
Then, in the spring semester of 1990, right as Walker’s class was on the verge of graduating, he abruptly dropped out of school. Walker had been an indifferent student at best, but it was nevertheless a strange move. Years later, rumors would circulate that Marquette had asked him to leave. But college officials say he departed in “good standing.”*
And no effort to smear a popular GOP politician as a fire-breathing racist is complete without a disingenuous screed about Voter ID. You see Gov. Walker expects Wisconsin voters to show the very same Driver’s License to the poll workers that they were required to carry along in order to legally drive to the polling site. Fighting for and enacting legislation that ¾ of The American People support is racially exclusive according to Alec McGinnis. It would be like me arguing that George W. Bush no longer believed I was a USA Patriot because the Patriot Act made it a pain in the butt for me to buy Sudafed when my sinuses got screwed up.
What this ultimately involves is cynical desperation. If we say “Racist, Scott Walker, Voter ID” loudly enough and often enough, we can make Google even more partisan against Scott Walker via the SEO bomb. It’s like the frustrated Brazilian soccer-player bamboozling the ref into giving the home team a cheap goal. It works sometimes, it never really gets penalized and may well hurt Scott Walker’s chances. This is how the New Republic resembles a cheating soccer player. It’s time for someone to blow the whistle on both.
*-The scare quotes around good standing are right out of the Scott Thomas Beauchamp TNR Yellow Journalism Manual of Style.