Scott Walker as presidential contender? The jury’s still out.

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2015-05-2008


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at CPAC 2013.


The short version of this piece is that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate because while he is excruciatingly boring, a bad thing, he makes up for that by being a dedicated and creative con artist.

One of his biggest applause lines was his mention that Wisconsin requires photo identification before voting. That’s true, but Walker didn’t mention that the requirement has been blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court and may never be enforced.

Walker boasted about the “big and bold” tax cuts on his watch—$2 billion in savings for individuals and businesses—without mentioning the projected $2.2 billion budget shortfall Wisconsin faces in the coming two years.

That indeed can be considered a political “skill,” and one that plays well in critical-path Iowa (see: Joni Ernst). Whether or not Walker’s ability to steadfastly flee serious questioning can carry him through the rough-and-tumble of a Republican primary season is more dubious. Fleeing all serious questioning while somehow coming off as not the dullest and most generic person in the room is also a bit of a trick.

“I’m not negative about him, but I just look at what happened to Pawlenty,” Steve Roberts, a former Iowa Republican Party chairman said comparing Walker to the former Minnesota governor who sputtered out in the last Republican nomination race. “He’s a hero, but whether that is enough to take him to the next level is an open question.”

Walker is taken very seriously by a lot of people as a presidential threat. I admit I’m not one of them, at least not so far. It is true that Walker has achieved hero status in the conservative movement—primarily by wounding public unions and shoving through tax cuts that, coincidentally, have blown an identically sized hole in state budgets, go figure—but he will be placed in the same uncomfortable position as all the other primary candidates, having to decide between embracing far-right positions or being booed off the debate stage, and there has been no “Wisconsin miracle” that might catapult him into better contention or give him gravitas to compete against the other, more seasoned contenders. To be blunt, I think Jeb Bush would wipe the floor with this fella.

Walker also has a single looming negative that he has been able to dodge so far, but which will come up during any serious primary contest on day one and will be broadcast by every Super PAC and outside interest group in the nation by day two: The man is surrounded by political corruption. The man is apparently damn lucky not to be in jail himself, if released documents are any indication. Whether or not Walker himself has escaped the indictments that have dogged the people who have worked for and with him and have shared the same lunch table, the man’s political tenure has been so riddled with corruption that it makes BridgeGate look picayune in comparison. The press may be letting him skirt responsibility for all those staffers that have ended up in handcuffs, but no opposing political operative worth his or her salt or million-dollar fees would do the same. The mailers all but write themselves.

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