Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

John Nichols’ Shameful Opportunism

When revered members of the public pass away, some use the time to mourn.  Some use the time to reflect on that individual’s good deeds.  Liberal writer John Nichols, on the other hand, sees the death as a perfect time to take cheap shots at his political opponents.

In his column “Jack Kemp vs. the Party of No,” Nichols wastes no time cashing in on Kemp’s death:

Among the many tragedies of the contemporary Republican party is that the partisans who will honor the memory of former Congressman, cabinet member and 1996 vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp have refused so consistently and belligerantly [sic] to embrace the man’s wisest political insight.

“The only way to oppose a bad idea is to replace it with a good idea,” said Kemp, who worked harder than anyone else to make the GOP a positive force rather than the “party of no.”

Clearly, Nichols has been dutifully reading his Twitters (tweets?) from Harry Reid.  I’ve been searching for the article where Nichols chastises Democrats for being the “party of no” when opposing Republican initiatives during the recent era of full GOP control.  Surely, Nichols was bothered by the Democratic party being the “party of no” when opposing President Bush’s tax cuts or the War in Iraq.  Someone let me know when they find that article – I’ll be here, holding my breath.

Nichols goes on to wax rhapsodic about what chums he and Kemp were, in order to convince us that this article isn’t just an opportunistic hit job.  (Clearly, he fails in this endeavor.)  He tells us that Kemp was an ideal Republican because he played with black players in the NFL and was opposed to apartheid.  (Breaking dramatically from the strong pro-apartheid wing of today’s GOP, apparently.)  Nichols makes sure that we know he once “traveled with Mandela,” and looks up some instances where Kemp spoke on behalf of racial equality.  Wonderful.

I hereby challenge anyone to find anything positive about Jack Kemp uttered by John Nichols prior to his death.  In fact, on economics, Kemp disagrees with everything Nichols stands for and attacks in the modern Republican party.  Yet he would have us believe that his admiration for Kemp was so strong that he secretly pulled the voting lever for Dole/Kemp in 1996.  In fact, a Lexis-Nexis search shows Nichols mentioned Kemp in 25 pieces he wrote for the Madison Capital Times in 1995 and 1996, and in not once instance did he reference him favorably.  He once mockingly referred to Kemp as the “pied piper of supply-side economics.”  

When Kemp was alive, Nichols didn’t have much use for him.  But Kemp DEAD is a whole other story.

Of course, this is a common Nichols trick.  He picks his GOP favorites only when it allows him to level a cheap shot against the powers that be.  In 2002, he suddenly became a big fan of Republican Wisconsin State Senator Bob Welch when he found out Welch was thinking of challenging incumbent Scott McCallum in a primary.  Naturally, Welch’s candidacy would have weakened McCallum significantly, which is all the Cap Times really cared about.

In 2006, Nichols bemoaned Republican Scott Walker’s exit from the GOP gubernatorial primary, praising his “moderation” on ethics issues, health care issues, and taxation.  Naturally, this was merely an attempt to paint the remaining GOP candidate, Congressman Mark Green, as a bloodthirsty partisan.  But just ONE YEAR earlier, Nichols shredded Walker in a column, calling him a “bigot” who wanted to make it harder for people to vote, and his candidacy for governor  “very bad news for Wisconsin.” For the record, Walker never backed off his support of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, his support of carrying concealed weapons, or the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), for which Nichols rips him.

But since the left’s’ strategy became contrasting Walker with Green, suddenly Walker became an ACLU card carrying member, Grateful Dead fan progressive. When he was in the race, he was a “pretty typical Wisconsin Republican,” but the second he left the race, he became “palatable even to moderate voters.”

Fortunately, in this case, Nichols corrected this mistake.  He decided to use a dead guy as a political prop, to be sure Kemp couldn’t speak for himself.  Some day (and I hope it’s a long, long, time from now), the John Nichols obituaries will be written.  Hopefully, at that point, someone will use his death as an example of how much more integrity liberal writers have than they did in 2009.

1 Comment

  1. There are only so many ideas one can come up with whilst toiling at Ancora every. single. day.

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