My latest NewsRealBlog post:
If it’s a day ending in “y,” that means it’s time for more crappy political advice from the Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart. Beinart’s kind of a one-trick pony on the subject—I’ve noted before how, no matter the situation, he advises Republicans not to govern like conservatives lest they face certain electoral doom (the right electoral strategy, coincidentally, happens to be to govern exactly like Peter Beinart would). Today, he argues that the Wisconsin GOP’s victory over public-sector unions will ultimately ensure a second term for Barack Obama:
In 2010, Republicans successfully accused Obama of abetting the extremism of Nancy Pelosi. In 2012, Obama will ask Americans if they want a president who abets the extremism of Scott Walker. By so successfully shifting the ideological debate to the right, Republicans have reframed Obama as a man of the center. And by terrifying liberals, they are helping ensure that Obama gets the large Democratic base turnout he needs […]
The 2012 Republican nominee will likely face the same problem. Embracing Scott Walker will alienate independents; rejecting him will alienate the conservative base. Parties usually win elections when their partisans are pragmatic enough to nominate candidates with crossover appeal but desperate enough to turn out for them nonetheless. Today’s GOP isn’t that kind of party. The Democrats, especially after last November, are.
There are two major problems with Beinart’s analysis. First, if one’s stance on public-sector unions is to be our new barometer for “extremism,” comparing Obama and Walker is hardly an open-and-shut case, even on the Left’s own terms—consider that government employees at the federal level can’t collectively bargain over wages or benefits, whereas Walker’s bill still allows some bargaining over wages. Assuming the GOP’s next presidential nominee isn’t totally asleep at the switch (which, admittedly, isn’t all that safe an assumption), he or she will challenge Obama on that very point.