Are We Enabling Scott Walker?

For my part, Scott Walker’s attempted walk back of his comments about the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay leaders as having “protected children” is ridiculous on its face. He now claims what he meant was that it protected children from “the political and media discussion about it.” Um. Okay.

I’m confident our readers are sophisticated enough to see that for what it is, part of the broader softening of rhetoric over gay rights from Walker and other elected conservatives, but a softening that is opportunistic, inconsistently applied, disingenuous, and which, in this case, Walker bumbled.

But TPM Reader KR emails to say we’re enabling Walker by not calling him out more forcefully. I yield the floor:

There’s no other way to say this than that you are enabling Scott Walker to get out from under the weight of his own wrongful statements. Tonight you report, without any analysis or critique, his assertion that when he said the ban on gay scoutmasters was “protecting children” he is saying he didn’t really mean protecting children from gay people, he meant protecting them from controversy.

Why do you report these things as flatly true, with no analysis? Yeah, that’s what he said — claiming he was “misunderstood” – but what convinces you that his spin is really true, as opposed to his really being opposed to gay scout masters but trying to walk back something he said that blew up in his face? I think the latter is MUCH more likely to be true.

He has a long, long anti-gay history. He was one of the early advocates for an anti-gay marriage amendment in Wisconsin. Not long after he was sworn in in 2011, Governor Walker stopped defending Wisconsin’s domestic partner registry, which provided a few – but far from all – of the rights and benefits of marriage for people who are LGBT. Although the Wisconsin Supreme Court later upheld the registry, Governor Walker’s staunch opposition to equality continues. He aggressively fought the ACLU’s case which won marriage equality in Wisconsin and only stopped when the US Supreme Court rejected his appeal. He fought so hard that the state of WI ended up paying $1.1 million to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

On June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court found in favor of marriage equality nationwide, as TPM itself noted, Walker asserted:

“I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. … In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. …As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.”

So it seems MUCH more likely that Walker’s comment about “protecting children” from gay scoutmasters is what he actually believes. At least you should be looking at this critically.
I’m disappointed in TPM – because this kind of “muckracking” journalism on which you made your name, goes by the wayside when you let Scott Walker get away with this kind of behavior. As a Wisconsin resident who has been watching him destroy our state, I’m very disheartened.

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