I’m reading Dana Milbank’s new WaPo column “Scott Walker’s insidious agnosticism,” which doubles down on his recent “Scott Walker’s cowardice should disqualify him,” which I dealt with 4 days ago in “Non-Wisconsinites, I need to explain something about Scott Walker to you that you are missing.”
I’m overcoming my basic urge to ignore Milbank. Isn’t he just repeating what I’ve already addressed? Why feed him with attention? But he’s got high profile whether I pay attention to him or not. That column has upwards of 5,000 comments, and Milbank is actively shaping Walker’s image right as Walker is getting national attention.
Walker — with his hardcore on-message approach — does not respond to the usual efforts to entice Republicans to make damaging remarks about sex, race, religion, and other things that aren’t part of his message. Another strategy is needed, and Milbank seems to think he’s found it. (I put “seems to” in that sentence in honor of Walker’s dogged refusal to make statements about what’s inside another person’s head.) Milbank’s idea is to make Walker’s restraint into a horrible flaw that disqualifies him from serious consideration.
In the first column, Milbank used the label “cowardice.” In the new one, it’s “agnosticism.” But what’s wrong with agnosticism? Is he knocking one of the world’s great religions? Oh, it’s “insidious agnosticism.” Insidious, really? Why not invidious? Or perfidious?! Milbank uses the religion-related word as he attempts to crucify Walker for saying that he doesn’t know whether President Obama is a Christian:
This is not a matter of conjecture. The correct answer is yes: Obama is Christian, and he frequently speaks about it in public….
Milbank (who is probably not a Christian) is missing something about Christianity that is quite glaring to me (whose possible Christianity is an enigma). To many Christians, claiming to be a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian.
As I child, I often found myself in a Christian church with a congregation singing“Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.” Dana Milbank, do you understand why that lyric is experienced as profound, or would you scoff “Why are these idiots pestering God about wanting to be something that they obviously are? Thecorrect lyric is ‘Thanks, Lord, for making me a Christian'”? Why are you the arbiter of what is correct in Christianity? Why aren’t you more of an agnostic? Your non-agnosticism here is insidious, invidious, and perfidious.
Milbank says that Walker’s idea that he would need to talk to Obama about Christianity is an “intriguing standard,” and then he lets loose with the snark:
I’ve never had a conversation with Walker about whether he’s a cannibal, a eunuch, a sleeper cell [sic] for the Islamic State, a sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome or a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. By Walker’s logic, it would be fair for me to let stand the possibility that he just might be any of those — simply because I have no personal and direct refutation from him.
No. Walker’s logic is that if anyone were to ask a bad question like that, he would turn the spotlight back on the questioner and expose the defectiveness of the question. And that would be a better response, because it doesn’t treat the question as serious. That is, it’s better to say “That’s a clown question, bro” than to treat it like a real issue by saying no. Walker doesn’t say “That’s a clown question.” He’s more polite. But it’s the same idea.
Walker is engaged in the enterprise of disciplining the press, and I can see why they don’t like it. Milbank reveals his frustration:
Milbank is an absolute jerk
dr#1: I agree Milbank, and many other reporters are jerks. Sadly, Milbank does get national attention for his crap.