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Scott Walker Fires Staffer for Faux-Offensive Libertarian Views, or Why Our Media Environment Is Game of Thrones, Not Lord of the Rings

The anatomy of a nontroversy.

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Galadriel
The Hobbit 3 / New Line Cinema

The faux-outrage media machine claimed another scalp yesterday as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker accepted the resignation of consultant Liz Mair. Her crime? She dared to criticize the opinions of Iowa voters and the undeserved power the state's primary holds in the Republican presidential cycle. She made these statements on Twitter—where everyone says things they later regret—earlier this year.

Mair's thoughtcrime may have gone unpunished if not for the dedicated work of Breitbart News reporter Matt Boyle, who wrote a stunningly awful hit piece highlighting her ideological transgressions; she holds libertarian-ish views on social issues and immigration. But what mattered most was her mild contempt for Iowa. She tweeted, "In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys" and "The sooner we remove Iowa's frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be." Some Iowa Republican acted all offended by this, calling her shallow, ignorant, and juvenile. So Walker canned her. (He wants to win Iowa.)

This is the textbook example of a nontroversy; a consultant said something everybody already believes and some other people pretended to be offended about it in order to win a political battle. Modern media outrage culture, after all, is about perceived, rather than actual, offense. As Jazz Shaw explains at Hot Air:

So she said aloud what I guarantee you most of the presidential candidates are already thinking. Iowa is a pain in the backside which most of them wish they could avoid. They just don't say it.

The point here is that the political hobgoblins who cooked up this ambush were never going after Liz. Nor were they particularly offended on a personal level on behalf of poor Iowa. They were looking for a way to embarrass Walker and get in a quick, cheap shot to weaken his position as a presidential candidate in the primaries. Liz, unfortunately, was collateral damage.

Of course, no one in the media has any right to decry faux-outrage, since all are guilty of using it to serve their purposes when their own enemies wander into the Twitter crosshairs.

Even so, the firing of Mair seems to represent some line in the sand for many conservatives, who have rushed to defend someone they very well may have left to the wolves had she not been a personal friend to so many of them. Most right-leaning media figures, including National Review's Jonah GoldbergThe Blaze's Dana Loesch, RedState's Erick Erickson, and The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis, have chastised Walker for caving. And some are furious with Breitbart for goading Walker into this.

There are likely unseen tensions at play. While outsiders tend to view all conservative media outlets as one and the same, differences exist—from the ideological to the personal to the business side of things. (That's common for all movements, of course.) Some have clashed with Breitbart before and enjoy doing so whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Breitbart's agenda, or at least Boyle's, seems to be to force Republican candidates to stake out hardliner positions on immigration. In that sense, the hit piece on Mair resembles The Washington Free Beacon's unbelievably dumb attack on Rand Paul campaign staffer Marianne Copenhaver, who was lambasted by the neoconservative outlet for praising Edward Snowden. The issue was different but the motivation was the same—win a political battle by trying to embarrass an enemy candidate. Of course, no one should pay any attention to a political consultant's policy positions, because they will assuredly change to reflect the candidate's position, or that person won't remain a staffer for very long.

And actually, Mair's criticism of Iowa is spot on. The state does have way too much power in the Republican primary cycle—and, as The Federalist's Sean Davis has argued, Iowa is unworthy of such power:

It wasn't enough that Walker flip-flopped on ethanol to gain the favor of the ethanol lobby. Now he and all the other candidates are apparently required to run all their staffing and contractor decisions by the head of a party that's only delivered the state to Republicans once in the last 30 years.

This is absurd. This isn't even a fight about policy. Tech vendors and social media staffers have no say whatsoever when it comes to advising a presidential candidate on policy. That's not how campaigns work. This farmland fatwa is especially absurd given the record of Iowa Republicans when it comes to picking presidents. They're straight-up awful at it.

Republican politicians see it as political necessity to flip on farm subsidies and ethanol, and carve out increasingly xenophobic immigration positions, and it's all Iowa's fault. That's the real outrage.

Lastly, stupid fights like this will become more common as libertarianism battles for space on the right. Whether or not they belong there, libertarian ideas are spreading in conservative media circles and among a tiny but vocal subset of Republican politicians. While I know many libertarians who would prefer some grand philosophical showdown between good and evil, where the strength and moral clarity of our ideas vanquish neoconservatism and social conservatism in a manner akin to the hobbits toppling Sauron, the reality is going to be more Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings. In other words, prepare the faux-outraged hit pieces against Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush that quote their staffers out of context on Twitter!

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  1. many libertarians who would prefer some grand philosophical showdown between good and evil, where the strength and moral clarity of our ideas vanquish neoconservatism and social conservatism in a manner akin to the hobbits toppling Sauron

    It’s a fair cop.

    1. With Bo in the role of Boromir.

      1. One does not simply walk into Iowa!

      2. You give him too much credit, Bo is more Gollum like.

        1. Gollum has more integrity.

        2. I like Bo. His heart’s in the right place and I appreciate his never-back-the-fuck-down-no-matter-what schtick. Your mileage may vary.

          1. I’m also not afraid to admit I like Neil Diamond. There. I’ve said it.

            1. I like Neil Diamond too. You’re not alone CN!

              *Though you might be alone on the Bo thing. I’m generally not put off by him, but sometimes his post grate on me like Tony’s.

            2. “One year later, I got beat up at a Neil Diamond concert by a guy named Scrunchie!”

          2. *checks CNs forehead for fever*

          3. Somewhere in Obo’s lower GI tract is the “right place”?

      3. I was thinking Wormtongue.

  2. Release the Botard!

    1. Too bad he prematurely shot his wad last night.

      1. Pl?ya Manhattan.|3.18.15 @ 11:27AM|#
        “Too bad he prematurely shot his wad last night.”

        Prediction:
        That person does not accept that the problem is right in the mirror; s/he will be back with a repeat performance by the end of the week.
        That stupid is sooo deep, it cannot be fixed on a web site.

        1. That person does not accept that the problem is right in the mirror; s/he will be back with a repeat performance by the end of the week

          In other news, water is wet.

        2. Yeah, I have no doubt. That’s just how he/she is. I think we’re just going to have to stick with the weekly beatings.

      2. What?

  3. In these times the greatest way to engage in political battle is to simply offend- which is quickly becoming the 10.0 earthquake.

  4. She’ll find a lot of company underneath the wheels of the bus.

    1. I’s would be surprising if the bus can even move any more.

      1. Another pot of coffee required.

    2. She made a lot of fans very quickly. Everybody here (except for Bo. Shocked, I am!) liked her. I’m sure she’ll land on her feet.

      1. I wonder(not really) what he thinks about her now since Reason defended her. Wasn’t a big part of his schtick calling out people who disagreed with anything Reason published?

      2. SHE IS NOT PROFESSIONAL, PSYCHOTIC GAMERGATERS

        1. The GAMERGATER thing is really fricking weird. I don’t even know how to process that particular obsession of his/hers.

          1. And it came out of nowhere. I don’t recall Bo saying anything like that back when a few people here actually did talk about Gamergate. Then, a week or two ago, Bo is calling everyone a “Gamergater.”

      3. I don’t particularly like her. Although to be fair, it’s hard to say you “like somebody you’ve never heard of before.

  5. This is literally a story that means nothing to anyone other than the women who was fired and the weirdo geeks who inhabit the beltway media. It amazes me how the media covers and prints this kind of inside baseball shit time and again pretending anyone cares.

    1. It’s Weigelesque.

    2. pretending anyone cares.

      And yet here we are commenting on it, as if anyone cares.

    3. The story does have some implications in national politics. This lady was saying that the whole Iowa thing is stupid, and she’s right. Every would be nominee has to pander to very narrow tastes in order to appear the frontrunner for the rest of the primaries. So what you get is candidates flip flopping on ethanol subsidies and their love for Jesus. It’s stupid.

      1. I’d add “embarrassing”.
        Can we get her to run for some office I can vote on?

      2. That’s the whole thing. She’s not wrong on her Iowa points at all, but that’s not something a candidate wants their staff saying out loud. He’s got to play the stupid game she’s criticizing so I’m not really surprised she was fired.

    4. “This is literally a story that means nothing to anyone other than the women who was fired and the weirdo geeks who inhabit the beltway media. It amazes me how the media covers and prints this kind of inside baseball shit time and again pretending anyone cares.”

      I don’t know. I kind of liked her off the cuff attacks on things she disliked and she was spot on regarding Iowa.

      Plus, if someone gets fired for this, I think it makes sense to stand up for them. I don’t think she really did anything wrong.

    5. I disagree, John. A little.

      This firing hits libertarian-leaning operatives where it counts – the checkbook. The word is now out that libertarianish statements are verboten, beyond the pale, and will get you fired.

      Libertarians are unpeople, and their thoughts are double-plus-ungood. so you better not let Big Repub even suspect that you are a libertarian, or you will need to find a new career.

      That has a serious effect on politics and the insider “discourse”, for lack of a better word.

  6. Was “idology” intended or accidental in the alt-text?

    1. Er, “idological”, rather.

      1. +1 Golden Calf

  7. “The sooner we remove Iowa’s frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be.”

    Iowa’s primary primacy is a calculated political move. When you show up first, you get the first slice of cake, the first (3) shots of whiskey, the pick of the seats.

    Iowa put their primaries first so they can extract promises from candidates before they have to balance against competing interests elsewhere. This is why Iowa cleans up in the federal dollars racket, despite being 30th or so in population.

    The point here is that the political hobgoblins who cooked up this ambush were never going after Liz. Nor were they particularly offended on a personal level on behalf of poor Iowa. They were looking for a way to embarrass Walker and get in a quick, cheap shot to weaken his position as a presidential candidate in the primaries. Liz, unfortunately, was collateral damage.

    This is what actually happened. The Fourth Estate just threw a jab at Walker to see if he’d back up, ignore it, dodge it, shoulder roll it, parry it. Walker went into full backpedal. Maybe the TEAM Blue side of the media can’t crack him, but the TEAM Red media can. Now they know it, they’ve proven it, and they’ll use it.

  8. something everybody already believes

    Citation Needed.

    1. Do you know anyone outside of Iowa who thinks Iowa has an appropriate amount of influence on national politics?

      1. Aside from that fact I’m fine with it. You’ve added a qualifier that wasn’t originally there.

    2. Oh suck a dick. Iowa is balls deep in shit and kickbacks. That whole state needs to die and shove their corn up their corpse asses.

  9. Read the Breitbart piece and a good chunk of the comments on it, and I have to ask: what’s the difference between Breitbart and Salon?

    1. Salon hates white people and Breitbart hates Muslims.

      That’s actually not a terrible comparison, since Breitbart didn’t used to be that bad when Andrew was running the place and Salon was actually decent 10 years ago.

      1. Salon was not decent 10 years ago. This is exactly when I read it (or was 12-13 years ago) and developed a robust contempt for the Left.

        1. Salon was never that good, but they certainly weren’t the steaming pile of clickbait horse-shit appeal-to the lowest common denominator of leftist idiocy that it is today.

    2. I don’t know, but I do know there is no difference between Chris Kyle and Sauron.

      1. +1 Adam Lanza

  10. She tweeted, “In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys” and “The sooner we remove Iowa’s frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be.” Some Iowa Republican acted all offended by this, calling her shallow, ignorant, and juvenile. So Walker canned her. (He wants to win Iowa.)

    .. and here’s why she thinks Iowa is undeserving of its status:
    http://twitter.com/LizMair/sta…..2029146112

    Morons across America are astounded to learn that people from *IOWA* grow up rather government-dependent. #agsubsidies #ethanol #brainless

  11. “she holds libertarian-ish views on social issues and immigration.”

    OK, guys, here I go again.

    What’s libertarian-ish about disagreeing with Rand and Ron Paul, and calling for the outlawry and legalized killing of living human beings?

    I have a problem with the first clause of the following paragraph, where she lays down her position on abortion (I provide the full paragraph so you won’t say I’m quoting out of context, blah blah).

    “*I do think abortion should remain legal in the first trimester,* [emphasis added] or where the mother’s life is in jeopardy. I don’t think abortion should be allowed on sex-selective or disability-selective grounds, although I also don’t think legislation can stop this entirely, only discourage it. I also think people should look at adoption a lot more than they currently do. I think there are huge moral problems with abortion, and that people should abort far, far less. And I would never have an abortion. Above all, I think the best ways to curtail abortion are a) for more people to use better birth control, and more consistently and b) for a cultural case to be made against it, as opposed to seeking to use the strong arm of government to stop it. I’m a skeptic of the effectiveness of big government, and that’s true whether we’re talking health insurance policy or abortion.”

    http://www.lizmair.com/blog.ph…..g-assu_735

    1. A Republican candidate hiring someone like her basically screams to the prolifers: “I’m only *pretending* to care about your cause.”

    2. Because not everyone that is a libertarian thinks abortion should be illegal, even if they don’t like it morally.

      This is not a hard concept to grasp Eddie.

      1. A better question Eddie should be asking himself is why he thinks his opinion on what constitutes libertarianism is relevant when he has repeatably shown his willingness to use government force to create outcomes he wants purely out of self-centered adherence to his religious beliefs. If Eddie was an aristocrat, his motto would be ‘Rights for me but not for thee’.

        1. “he has repeatably shown his willingness to use government force to create outcomes he wants purely out of self-centered adherence to his religious beliefs.”

          He has? Just for fun, could you give some examples – not just of libertarian heresy, because I’ve admitted I’m not libertarian, but of views based “purely” on “self-centered adherence to [my] religious beliefs.”

          1. You have clearly stated your views on prostitution, adultery, divorce and gay marriage. If you just disapproved of them morally, I wouldn’t care. But you demand that the government enforce your preferences on everyone else. Hence, you are a profoundly self-centered person who expects everyone else to kowtow to your beliefs. And if they don’t, hey, that’s what cops’ boots are for! The fact that you whine when the progressives do the same thing with their beliefs makes you a massive hypocrite.

            1. What a remarkably simple-minded and inaccurate summary!

    3. Because abortion is an issue with libertarian arguments for both sides and the Pauls are not the Popes of Libertarianism who set the standard?

      1. I should have phrased it differently:

        Why assume that wanting to legalize abortion makes you more libertarian than if you wanted it banned?

        This is what I object to – the planted axiom that being a choicer makes you a better libertarian.

        If that’s what libertarianism means, so much the worse for libertarianism.

        1. Because one requires constant use of government force to maintain and encourages a black market. Perhaps we should have the police engage in an investigation and forceful cavity search every time a woman suspiciously miscarries, that’s keeping the government out of people’s lives.

          And again, you’ve repeatably shown that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t actually hold libertarian positions, so what you think is ‘worse for libertarianism’ doesn’t really amount to much.

        2. Because it’s an editorial goal of Reason to make “libertarian” and synonymous with “open-borders” and “pro-choice”. We all know that already don’t we?

          1. damnit.

            and

      2. All libertarians agree that humans should not be murdered (I use the word murder deliberately to differentiate between initiation of killing and killing in self-defense). The disagreement with the libertarian position comes from differences in when or whether human status should be accorded to a fetus and whether or not evicting a fetus can be viewed through the lens of “self-defense”. And pretty much all libertarians have assigned values to these questions in accord with their personal beliefs, and despite the perpetual arguments no one is going to change their minds.

  12. “Scott Walker Fires Staffer for Faux-Offensive Libertarian Views”

    Libertarian views = tweeting your dislike of Iowa on twitter? With ever-changing criteria like this, it surprises me that anyone is allowed to call themselves libertarian anymore.

  13. The solution is rotating first-in-the-nation primaries/caususes/whatever. Do it by the order states were admitted into the Union. In 2016 you start in Delaware, then go to PA, etc. Then in 2020, PA is first, and Delaware moves to last place. If any states are added between now and 2220, they move in front of Delaware. Each state gets to force politicians to proclaim support for their narrow regional ideals once every two centuries.

    1. I like what you have to say.

      Do you, by chance, have a newsletter?

      1. Actually, the solution is for the courts to remember that political parties are associations composed of members with first amendment rights, among them the right to exclude non-members from participating in the group’s decision-making processes unless invited, and that laws pretending to use state authority to arrange those processes by mandating primaries, and forbidding or compelling their closed or open status are unconstitutional.

        It Iowa state law that their caucuses have to be first.

        Paying for it any or all of it with tax money violates the rights of independents, abstainers and members of parties not having a caucus or primary, too. Get the goddamn gubmint out of it.

        Kevin R

  14. the reality is going to be more Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings.

    Ponders the example of Aemon Targaryen.

  15. She made these statements on Twitter?where everyone says things they later regret?earlier this year.

    And this is why I don’t have a twitter handle. It’s either that or giving up booze, and airing my grievances to the world certainly isn’t worth a lifetime of tedious sobriety.

  16. I thought Iowa had a caucus instead of a primary?

  17. Mair is a disgusting foulmouth. She’s a disgrace to to the libertarianism of Mises, Szasz, Higgs, and Rothbard. She quite consistent the the “libertarianism” of the typical Reason reader judging by the posts.

  18. The only thing surprising is that anyone is surprised she got canned for that.
    C’mon, Man! I might think my best friend has an ugly baby, but I know when just keeping my mouth shut is appropriate.

  19. Good riddance. I’m fine with the libertarianism, but her support for Arsenal puts her beyond the pale.

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