Thursday, August 6, 2015

Walker v. Bush in the LA Times (They Like Bush)

The Los Angeles Times published profiles of the two main contenders for the Republican nomination: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The two articles appeared on pages right next to each other in the paper.

It is hard to ignore the subtle inference that the Times wants to promote Jeb Bush while giving Walker a harder, critical line. 

Consider the following analysis on key points,  then draw your own conclusions.

Scott Walker (Michael Vadon)

Scott Walker tries to prove he's a national contender for president

As he rumbled through South Carolina this week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told his favorite story about shopping for clothes at Kohl’s department store and cobbling together so many discounts that “they’re paying me to buy the shirt.”

The tale drew chuckles from some of the 200 Republicans who came to see him at a Harley-Davidson dealership in North Charleston. But the details, including references to the “Kohl’s cash” coupons found in his wife’s purse, did not spark the same knowing nods that they did during his announcement speech in Wisconsin, where the chain is based and is a more entrenched symbol of middle-class culture.

"The tale drew chuckles". Walker was not exaggerating. He told the truth. Notice that the writer makes it sound that no one cared or very few found it funny.

The stump-speech anecdote points to one of Walker’s challenges as he opened his campaign for president by embarking on a whirlwind tour: proving he is a national contender who can win states beyond his Midwestern base.

This speech did not go over well, and therefore Walker is not doing well in Southern States? Newt Gingrich had cratered in Iowa and New Hampshire, then bounced back in South Carolina after a stellar debate, in which he slammed John King for bringing up his second wife's salacious allegations.

He is investing time, money and organizational resources in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential nominating contest and borders his home state. But to rise above other leading Republican candidates, he needs to show strength in other regions of the country that have early primaries, including South Carolina.

So does everyone else.

“Fifty percent of the people in South Carolina, you show them a picture of Scott Walker and they don’t know who he is,” said Moye Graham, chairman of the Republican Party for a state district that covers 15 counties north of Charleston. “He probably has the least face recognition of the major candidates.”

This setback is a reality right now. The Weekly Standard just reported that Donald Trump is dominating all the other candidates throughout the South. The national media blitz has aided Trump, but let's not forget that the real estate mogul/reality TV star has been on national television for more than a decade promoting himself.

 Walker, hoping to remedy that problem, pursued an aggressive schedule in early primary states for his first week, with stops in Nevada, South Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire and Iowa, followed next week by trips to Tennessee, California and North Carolina, and a return trip to New Hampshire for a motorcycle tour. Walker was hoarse during his first appearance in South Carolina after going without a bed for more than 24 hours.

That's what candidates do. They work hard to reach out to people and gain name-recognition.

Trying to save money and reinforce his Everyman credentials, he and his staff flew commercial but ran into delays caused by weather, including an unexpected stop in Memphis, a missed connection in Atlanta and a 3 a.m. ride in a rented van to South Carolina.

Why is this news? Why does the reporter go out of his way to picture Walker's campaign as limited and dysfunctional?

Polls have suggested Walker can compete in South Carolina and other early states. And many GOP activists in South Carolina, where Republican primary voters are especially conservative, also say he has a shot. But several have said he will have to visit more often — something he pledged to do this week — and distinguish himself from a crowded field that includes Sen. Lindsey Graham, who represents South Carolina, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has a strong network in the state. Other very conservative candidates, including Dr. Ben Carson, real estate magnate Donald Trump and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, are also mentioned favorably by activists here.

Graham is not competing well in his home state. The Republican Party of South Carolina censured him for supporting a pathway to citizenship. He is an establishment figure who proudly declares his Chamber of Commerce affiliation. Those values do not sit well with his conservative South Carolina constituents.

“There’s just so many candidates,” said Brian Grant, a 47-year-old pharmacist from Charleston who came to check Walker out at the Harley-Davidson event. “Nobody’s narrowed it down.”

That's the real argument. This critique of Walker's campaign would apply just as fairly with nearly every other candidate on the GOP roster.

And South Carolina voters do not always honor the winners of other early primaries with a bounce. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, won the primary here in 2012, stanching the momentum of Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, who won Iowa.

“He was completely reliant on the bump. It will help, but it never really works,” said Brandon Newton, a party chairman from a district based along the border with North Carolina. “It’s really who does the ground game in South Carolina.”

Walker can do ground game. He won three times in a blue state in four years.
That’s where money and organization help candidates like Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has mainstream support and leads by a substantial margin in fundraising through outside groups.

"Mainstream support" -- like whom?

“Your biggest challenge is time,” said Rick Wiley, Walker’s campaign manager, marking as the most difficult logistical hurdle a stretch of 26 contests in the first two weeks of March that will probably determine the party’s nominee.

Walker tries to connect with crowds, and draw a contrast with Bush, by emphasizing his humble roots, including a job at McDonald’s and his grandparents’ lack of indoor plumbing for a time. He wore jeans, rolled-up sleeves and motorcycle boots in South Carolina, one of three states where he scheduled events at Harley-Davidson dealerships, a nod to another Wisconsin-based company and to his hobby of motorcycle-riding that suggests a renegade streak. In North Charleston he stood before a backdrop of motorcycles stacked three stories high.

Why does the writer describe Walker comparing himself to Bush?

Many who took pictures and sought autographs from him after his speeches were eager to talk about their Wisconsin ties -- a few wore Green Bay Packers jerseys or carried the team’s mug.

Walker is one of the most polarizing candidates in the field, loathed by Democrats and union activists and admired by conservatives for defeating a recall effort after his rollback of collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin. That fight is the centerpiece of Walker’s speeches and the issue party activists know most about him.

Democrats loathe Walker? Then why did some of them vote for him 2012 the same year that President Obama won reelection? Why did Wisconsin Republicans strengthen their majority in the state assembly and take back the state senate that year, too?

“We took on the unions and we won,” Walker said in Lexington.

Walker has tried to move still further to the right to court social conservatives. His work to curtail abortion rights drew some of his loudest applause here, along with his boast of passing a voter-ID law and his fight to require welfare recipients to take drug tests.
Walker has tiptoed around issues that could risk alienating conservative voters, even if they are less controversial with moderates.

He has mostly sidestepped questions about whether South Carolina should have removed the Confederate flag from the capitol, calling it a state issue. That allowed him to avoid taking sides on a topic that remains divisive among the state’s Republicans.

To reporters, he praised Republican Gov. Nikki Haley for “bringing together a broad coalition to get the job done.”

Walker’s impulse to please cultural conservatives has prompted some awkward moments. On Tuesday, he was quoted as saying that he believed gay people should be barred from leading Boy Scout troops because the policy “protected children and advanced Scout values.”

But speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Walker downplayed his comment.

“It’s up to the Boy Scouts,” he said. “All I pointed out was the policy was perfectly fine when I was there and I thought they should be protected from all the political and media controversy about it.”
Below, you will find the article detailing Jeb Bush's policies in contrast with Hillary Clinton's.

Jeb Bush (Fabio Pozzebum)

Bush and Clinton highlight sharp contrast in dueling policy speeches

Right away, readers need to see that this author is putting Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in the same headline. It appears that the LA Times is outright dedicated to setting up another Bush v. Clinton fight for next year.

Jeb Bush pledged to cut government spending by reforming the “culture in our nation’s capital” in a speech Monday that hit themes long popular with conservative voters, including a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and a freeze in pay for many government workers.
The speech drew a sharp contrast in tone and content with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, who has begun rolling out a series of policy proposals, many of which would involve expanding government’s role.

Jeb Bush is not popular with conservatives. Maybe some of the points that he made are popular with conservatives, but Donald Trump along with other candidates have hit on those issues, too.

Clinton, in a speech a week ago outlining her economic ideas, called for what she termed a “growth and fairness economy,” one in which she would harness the power of the federal government in an effort to “raise incomes for hardworking Americans so they can afford a middle-class life.” She criticized “arbitrary growth targets untethered to people’s lives and livelihoods," an implicit censure of Bush's pledge that the economy would grow at a rate of 4% under his presidency.

Bush, by contrast, made clear that he sees government as the problem and economic growth as the measure of success.

The LA Times is tripping over itself to prop up Bush as the more conservative favorite. Did anyone read more stirring or specific comments promoting Scott Walker's political ideologies?  He has a strong record of getting the government out of people's lives.

“We’ve learned by now that you can have a fast-expanding economy or you can have a fast-expanding government, but you can’t have both,” he said in his speech in Tallahassee, where he served as Florida’s governor for eight years. “You have to choose.

“For anyone who wants to see a federal government even bigger, even farther removed from those it is supposed to serve, the other party will be offering that option,” Bush said. “It will not be my intention to preside over the establishment, but in every way I know to disrupt that establishment and make it accountable to the people.”

Bush’s call to change the nature of Washington seemed designed to reassert his conservative credentials in a GOP primary race in which he faces several candidates to his right. But it also struck a potentially discordant note, given that the government he criticized for its “habitual practice of deficit spending” was headed by his brother President George W. Bush for eight years, and during that time the post President-Clinton federal budget surplus ended and deficit spending returned.
Jeb Bush’s pledge to “turn off the automatic switch on discretionary spending increases” also struck an odd note. That category of spending, which covers federal spending governed by annual appropriations bills, has been shrinking as a share of the budget. Bush said that he would propose ideas later for the entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, that account for most of the long-term growth in federal spending.

At least this article took time to talk about the previous Bush. Now, when will the writer criticize Hillary Clinton?
Many of Bush’s ideas were longtime conservative staples, including the balanced-budget amendment, a line-item veto that would allow a president to strike specific items from spending bills, a 10% reduction in the size of the federal workforce over the first five years of his presidency, and moves to freeze the pay of many government workers and make them easier to fire.

But he included a new idea likely to meet strong resistance from many Republicans and Democrats in Congress: He would push for a six-year ban on any member of Congress becoming a lobbyist.

This statement is a great idea. Get rid of the cronyism. I like the idea of term limits for lobbyists, too. Let the lawmakers serve as long as they wish. We need term limits for lobbyists.

Under Bush’s plan, the definition of “lobbying” would be expanded to cover “the ambiguous class of consultants who lobby but call it something else.” His plan, if Congress were to adopt it, would cut off a lucrative path that many senior members from both parties have followed into the private sector.
Bush also proposed cutting off the pay of members of Congress who don’t show up for votes. The idea came with an unspoken, but unmistakable, subtext: His rivals for the nomination include four sitting senators who, as a group, have missed dozens of roll calls while out campaigning.

Final Reflection

 The article on Scott Walker spent most of the time talking about what little name recognition he had as well as his struggle to bridge social conservatives and moderates. The article specifically called him divisive, too. In contrast, the Bush writer compared Bush to Clinton, as though he was already the nominee for President. The article went over Bush's ideological talking points about shrinking the size of the federal government, but not discussion about social issues, like marriage, life, or the Second Amendment.

It would appear to most discerning readers that the LA Times is dedicating to propping up Bush as an ideal candidate compared to Walker and other Republicans in the 2016 primaries. Notice also that while praising Bush, the paper provided slight jabs to his candidacy by reminding everyone about George W. Bush. Where was the coverage to talk about Bill Clinton's failed military ventures and his non-action on terrorism during his administration. What about his serial adultery then perjury?

When it comes to Walker v. Bush, the Times loves Bush, but let's face it: they really like Hillary Clinton, and know that she would wipe Bush out in 2016.

2015 03 10 Hillary Clinton by Voice of America (cropped to face).jpg
Hillary Clinton (Voice of America)

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