'Are they out of their minds?': Former Reagan staffer slams WSJ for overlooking Kari Lake’s 'extremism'

'Are they out of their minds?': Former Reagan staffer slams WSJ for overlooking Kari Lake’s 'extremism'

On Monday, September 26, the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial board published an editorial attacking Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — who is running against far-right MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist Kari Lake in Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial race — for her views on “school choice.” The WSJ’s editorial board recommended that Lake emphasize “school choice” rather than the 2020 presidential election, which she falsely claims was stolen from Donald Trump. And veteran conservative columnist Mona Charen, in a scathing article published by The Bulwark on September 28, slams the Journal’s editorial board for turning a blind eye to Lake’s extremism.

In its editorial, WSJ’s editorial board wrote, “The race for governor is close, and Democrats are seeking to rev up turnout by making the election about Donald Trump. GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake hasn’t helped herself or her party by insisting that the 2020 election was stolen. Her election fraud claims put off many Republicans and independents and are a loser in the general election. A winning and unifying issue for Republicans this November is school choice.”

The board continued, “(Florida Gov. Ron) DeSantis won in 2018 thanks in part to support from black mothers who were worried his Democratic opponent would take away their kids’ state scholarships. Ms. Lake has a chance to drive a similar message, and Ms. Hobbs has made herself vulnerable by telling parents they can’t be trusted with school choice.”

READ MORE: Why 'polished and ostensibly moderate' Glenn Youngkin is promoting election deniers: columnist

Those familiar with Charen’s background know how conservative she is. The 65-year-old Charen worked in the Reagan White House during the 1980s and was a speechwriter for First Lady Nancy Reagan, and the titles of her books include “Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First” and “Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us).” But Charen has been a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement, and in 2020, she endorsed Joe Biden for president.

In her Bulwark article, Charen notes that she agrees with “school choice” and has been critical of teachers’ unions. But “school choice,” she emphasizes, is no reason to endorse someone as “extreme” as Lake.

“Disturbing, extremist, and otherwise unfit candidates dot the national landscape in 2022 like monkeypox, from Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania to J.D. Vance in Ohio to Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, but Arizona surely takes the highest honors for the sheer concentration of ranting incompetents who threaten the democratic process,” Charen writes. “Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, whom the Journal is endorsing, may be in favor of school choice, but that’s a little beside the point when you consider the larger picture. Kari Lake has declared that the 2020 election was ‘corrupt and stolen.’ Regarding the current president of the United States, she has expressed pity, urging that ‘deep down, I think we all know this illegitimate fool in the White House — I feel sorry for him — didn’t win. I hope Americans are smart enough to know that.’”

Charen continues, “She has no patience for temporizers. ‘It is not enough to say you are for ‘Election Integrity’ if you are not for DECERTIFYING the 2020 election if wrongdoing, fraud or different results are revealed,’ she tweeted last year. She then boasted that she was the only candidate for governor calling for decertification of the 2020 election. In addition to the standard denial of the 2020 election, Lake has also adopted the smarmy tactics Trump has normalized in the GOP. When former Congressman Matt Salmon, one of her primary opponents, demurred about putting cameras in every Arizona classroom, she accused him of coddling pedophiles and sneered that he was too weak to be governor.”

READ MORE: Meghan McCain melts down after Kari Lake and other GOP extremists win in Arizona elections

According to Charen, WSJ’s editorial board has responded to such “awkward realities” by viewing them “as problems only insofar as they make it harder for her to win.”

“Again, I tend to agree with the Journal’s editorial board on many policy matters,” Charen writes. “Pro-school choice? Check. Pro-free enterprise? Check. Anti-regulation? Much of the time, yes. Pro-free trade? Double check. Pro-immigration? Check. Anti-big government? Check. But they are pretending, or perhaps deluding themselves, that the Republican Party remains, underneath it all, the party of Paul Ryan and Larry Hogan and Chris Sununu, and that the country will be better off if Republicans win elections, full stop.”

Charen continues, “Yet as Liz Cheney sees and is willing to say, that’s not this Republican Party. This GOP is the party of Mastriano and Vance and yes, Kari Lake. This is a party that cannot be trusted with power, that openly proclaims its eagerness to overturn elections. Next to that, everything else, including school choice and regulation and taxes, pales to insignificance. The Wall Street Journal editorial board has continuing influence with reasonable center-right voters. They owe them better.”

READ MORE: Why Ron DeSantis is stumping for election deniers in key swing states: report

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