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Opening Arguments

Gotcha takedown right here

If you scan through the righty blogosphere (as I do) you can find a lot of bemoaning of the treatment of Scott Walker by the press now that he's the GOP front-runner, especially its habit of asking "Gotcha!" questions that never get thrown at Democrats. (Try this one: "The left made Scott Walker a candidate, the press is turning him into a force.")

I liked Ann Althouse's takedown of The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who tried to goad Walker into saying whether he though President Obama was a Christian or not. For one think, she lives in Wisconsin, so she's a lot more familiar with the governor than most writers. For another, she's not exactly a raging right-winger so she has a little more credibility than a lot of the other critics:

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.

That's how the game will be played. Ask a question designed to get an embarrassing response, and if the candidate doesn't answer it, that is in itself proof that he shouldn't be president. I was going to say that this will start being tiresome, but it really already is.