Come on. You remember Sarah Palin. Try. Governor of Alaska picked as McCain’s running mate? Does a boffo tour as new conservative star and is suddenly all the rage ever since? The conservative who even got some right-leaning scribes harrumphing?
I know you can remember. She made liberals foam. Go nuts. Crazy nuts. And when some of us tried to point out that she was following a path trod by other conservatives from a young Richard Nixon to an old Ronald Reagan to a middle-aged Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush and Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter — the path of most hated conservative in the land — we were told (indignantly!) that this wasn’t so…that it really was all about Sarah herself. She was just…just…well…fill in the epithet of your choice.
Suddenly…Sarah Palin turns out NOT to be the most hated conservative in America. Uh-uh. The crown has been rudely snatched and jammed on someone else’s head. That honor has now reverted to a white guy. This one named… Scott Walker. Shoved into the coliseum as the lions roar… he’s Hitler. He’s Mussolini. He’s a Nazi, a Fascist, a racist, a tool of billionaires. He’s so bad he makes Sarah Palin look reassuringly plain old vanilla.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but this is what happens when a conservative or even someone who is not a movement conservative but flies enough conservative colors — becomes the focus of left-wing wrath. What we are watching in real time is the demonization of Scott Walker by the left…a process recently devoted exclusively to Sarah Palin and before that to George W., the talk radio stars, Ann Coulter, the Fox crew.
The irony is that this process is now becoming familiar to more and more people — more people get the game. Which has two interesting side effects.
One, people begin to realize what the real game is — discrediting conservatism itself by using one star as a target. The old Alinsky trick of picking the target, freezing it, personalizing it etc.
And two — by focusing on the newest target with such fierce animosity, it makes the last target fade into… dare we say it… the comfort of a reassuringly familiar face. Reagan is a hero these days. Billboards are up with a winking George W. Bush and the caption “Miss me yet?” Rush’s audience grows, his joshing description of himself as a lovable fuzzball not far from the now-comfortable reality of his every day, 20-plus year presence. Sean Hannity’s ratings are soaring, making him the dominant prime time figure in both his television and radio slots. Mark Levin’s book sales astound as his ratings soar…..and Fox keeps on surging. Ann Coulter sallies forth with a new bestseller-in-waiting. Beck…O’Reilly…Greta. All of them having walked through this bizarre ritual of left-wing fire-breathing… some more than others… and coming out on the other side as just regular folks with a comfortingly familiar message presented in their various and unique fashions.
Sarah Palin, doubtless to her amazement, is suddenly being elbowed aside — yanked from the dead-center of the coliseum as the number one conservative villain in America. She’s already through the firewalk and lions stage… now becoming right before our eyes that nice Sarah Palin from Alaska…. the Mom… the girl with that Alaska show…. Todd and the kids, the dancing daughter with the cute baby, the whole loveable gang.
It’s worth noting as this bucket of brimstone gets dumped on Governor Walker’s head (this weekend AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka declined to rebuke his pals who are parading Walker-as-Hitler signs through the state capitol building in Madison) that he is in fact being initiated into a peculiar American tradition of how to welcome a major conservative star into the club.
Once it was young Nixon the Alger Hiss villain, then a young William F. Buckley (he too got the Nazi label)… then Goldwater… Reagan…Rush… Sean… Levin … Ann Coulter… Laura… and so on down through the years.
It took a while for conservatives to get the routine.
But we get it now.
And by the time they’re done with Scott Walker… someone now unknown will be trotted out into the middle of the leftist Coliseum to see if they can survive the lions.
Keep the popcorn and scorecards handy.
Welcome to the club, Governor.