Posts Tagged ‘Scott Walker’

Love the title of this short piece in New York magazine: “Scott Walker Finds Secret Cheat Code That Allows Him to Avoid All Campaign Questions”

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who has previously declined to have stances on birthright citizenship, evolution, whether being gay is a choice, and whether he would meet with Black Lives Matter organizers, discussed the philosophical underpinnings of his political apathy when announcing that he has no opinion on the migrant crisis in Europe.

ABC News asked Walker how he would respond to the massive influx of refugees from Syria if he were president today. He explained that the query was flawed. As he is obviously not president, Walker argued, there is no way that he would be able to answer that question. “I’m not president today and I can’t be president today,” he said. “Everybody wants to talk about hypotheticals; there is no such thing as a hypothetical” — a sentence that probably would have moved Socrates to set Walker’s pants on fire himself.

Not president today. Not president tomorrow. How did this guy get elected to anything?

Is Scott Walker stupid or what? More to the point, does he think we’re all stupid?

Peter Suderman at reason.com writes about the sorry campaign of Scott Walker. Just a few months ago Walker was considered a top-tier candidate. Now he’s buried at the darkest part of the very deep bench. What happened? “Walker is running a pandering, cringe-worthy campaign marked by a consistent inability to clearly articulate, and stick to, his own positions.” How friggin’ hard is it to say what you believe in? (Especially when you are a conservative who’s convinced of his righteousness.) Apparently, it’s pretty hard. Unless, that is, your only concern is how you sound to the audience in front of you. You know, like a craven politician might do.

But Walker is no politician, at least according to him. No, he’s “just a normal guy.” Well, one who happens to have run for or held elected office for his entire adult life. Seriously, he claims he’s not a career politician. This is a man who first ran for office at the age of 22 and has held elected office since age 25. Now he’s 47. He’s been a politician since he became a grown up, for God sakes. He lamely claims, “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years.”

No. A career politician is someone who runs or holds office for his entire adult life. I mean, is he an idiot? Does he think we are? It’s hard to believe he could be this clueless about what he is.

More from Peter Suderman about Walker’s “cringe-worthy campaign” and his inability to stick to his own positions:

Most recently, for example, Walker seemed to suggest that he was open to the possibility of a building a wall along the Canadian border in order to stop illegal immigration. He responded by saying that he’d been asked this question by people in New Hampshire, that the people asking the questions had “very legitimate concerns,” and that the idea of building a wall would be “a legitimate issue for us to look at.”

It’s not exactly a “damn right we should build a wall!” But Walker’s response clearly takes the idea seriously, and pointedly does not rule it out.

Yesterday, however, he claimed that the talk about it was “just a joke” and that he’s “never talked about a wall at the north.”

This is the Walker campaign playbook: Say something awkward or ill-advised, watch as the media swarms to cover it, then insist that there was never anything to see.

The same thing happened with Walker’s comments on birthright citizenship. Questioned on camera by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt about whether he supported ending birthright citizenship, as Donald Trump has called for, he nodded his head and said “yeah, absolutely, going forward.” When Hunt pressed him further, “We should end birthright citizenship?” he nodded again and said, “Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country.”

A few days later, when asked about it again, he shifted course by explicitly declining to take a position. “I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other,” he told CNBC’s John Harwood. Yet just a few more days after that, he did take a position, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that was definitely not in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

That’s three different positions in the space of week—and yet when asked about the shifts, a campaign spokes erson complained about efforts to “mischaracterize” his position.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to correctly characterize a candidate’s position on an issue when the candidate himself cannot seem to state it with any clarity.

This sort of flip-flopping, what might generously be called policy confusion, has dogged Walker’s campaign essentially from the moment it began. Back in March, Walker, in what was obviously a sop to Iowa voters, reversed his previously clear opposition to federal ethanol subsidies.

A week later, when asked about the change, he denied that he had flip flopped on the issue. Since then, his position appears to have shifted again, with Walker suggesting to The Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney that he supports ending the ethanol mandate after two years.

Even when Walker holds what looks to be a relatively clear position, he has a difficult time describing it. After his campaign released an imperfect but detailed-enough Obamacare replacement plan last month, he was asked about whether he can justify its redistributive effects. Politically speaking, the best answer to this entirely predictable question would have been that Walker’s plan is designed first and foremost to help the broad middle class.

Instead, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, Walker offered a stumbling, semi-coherent invocation of “freedom,” “freedom,” and more “freedom,” and insisted that redistribution simply wasn’t an issue for his plan—even though it is, both in the sense that it changes the relative redistribution from how it is now, and in the sense that it puts its own alternative system of redistribution into place.

How often have we heard from conservatives about the deep Republican “bench”? In their telling, there are literally a dozen or more highly qualified candidates just waiting in the wings to take back the White House. And that doesn’t even include such singular talents as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, who so far have chosen to sit this one out. Why, according to conservatives, any one of these candidates would be a brilliant choice as president.

Then came The Donald who, intentionally or not, exposed the entire field for what it really is. This point was put forth today by, of all people, Rich Lowry, in an article on Politico entitled, “The GOP Field That Failed.”

The rise of Donald Trump is, in part, a function of a vacuum.

He is thriving in a Republican field that is large, talented and, so far, underwhelming. There’s 17 candidates and nothing on. Except Donald Trump.

Now, this has much to do with the media, and with Trump’s unique qualities as a showman. He has the advantage of not caring, about anything apparently — the facts, his reputation, or, ultimately, winning the presidency. In consequence, he is a free man.

The Jorge Ramos incident was Trump in microcosm. He did what no other Republican politician could get away with (having a security guy manhandle a Latino reporter) and displayed a cavalier disregard for reality by denying he was having Ramos removed, even as he had him removed. But the episode was mesmerizing, and Trump — in his madcap way — was commanding in how he handled it.

If any other candidate had done that or something similar, it would have been a signature event of his campaign, but for Trump it was just another day on the trail, to be eclipsed by some other memorable event tomorrow.

Trump has at least half a dozen such indelible moments — his bizarre announcement, the John McCain diss, the Lindsey Graham cellphone, the Megyn Kelly fight (x2), the Mobile rally — when the rest of the field has almost none. No speech, no policy proposal, no argument, nothing from the other candidates has come close to capturing the imagination of voters, giving Trump the space to loom all the larger.

The weakness starts at the top, or what was supposed to be the top. In the normal course of things, the establishment front-runner provides coherence to the field. Hence, the expectation that the field would have Jeb Bush and a not-Bush, or maybe two. For the moment, this assumption has collapsed, as the current shape of the field is Trump and everyone else.

This is quite the comedown for Bush. His “shock and awe” has turned into getting sand kicked on him at the beach by a loudmouth and bully. It’s not just that Bush is trailing Trump badly in the polls; he has acceded to the terms of the debate being set by the mogul. It wasn’t long ago that Bush swore off talking about Trump, as basically beneath him. Now, he is sniping with him daily.

Before he got in the race, Bush spoke of only wanting to do it if he could run joyfully. Little did he know that he would be joyously grappling with an ill-informed blowhard who takes it as his daily obligation to insult Bush and trample on the pieties he holds dear.

In the argument with Trump over mass deportation, clearly Bush is right. But the split screen with Trump doesn’t necessarily do him any favors. Trump is such a forceful communicator that he comes off as some sort of throwback alpha male, whereas Bush is such an earnest wonk he looks and sounds like a sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom. It’s like watching a WWE wrestler get a stern talking to from Ned Flanders.

Bush is not a natural performer to begin with (he struggles with set speeches), and he believes his contribution to the race is to be the nonthreatening Republican, which is often indistinguishable from the uninteresting Republican. So while Bush has methodically built the superstructure of an impressive campaign — with fundraising, organization and policy proposals — he has so far barely warmed up an ember among voters.

Scott Walker, in contrast, had a surge early in the campaign. It dissipated over time when his limited preparation on national issues didn’t match his outsized early press exposure. A so-so debate performance and the rise of Trump have continued his long fade to middle of the pack in the latest early state polling (tied for fourth in New Hampshire and tied for seventh in South Carolina).

Walker’s ability to appeal to both the establishment and activist wings of the party had looked like a strength, but now it seems a precarious balancing act, made all the more difficult by a panicky reaction to Trump.

No sooner had Walker pronounced himself “aggressively normal” in the debate than he seemed to opt for just “aggressive” in an attempt to play to the passions tapped by Trump. Who could have predicted that the Midwestern candidate who tells stories about buying shirts for $1 at Kohl’s would have to play populist catch-up with the New York billionaire who travels by eponymous helicopter?

Walker had already changed his mind about immigration, shifting from support for a “comprehensive” approach to strong opposition to amnesty. Trump has pushed him further, and Walker has gotten tangled up on the issue of birthright citizenship.

At the Iowa State Fair, he seemed at one point to say that he was opposed to it. Then, he told John Harwood of CNBC he wouldn’t take a position on it. Finally, on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” he danced around a question on the 14th Amendment before saying that anything that goes beyond simply enforcing our immigration laws is a red herring.

Earlier this week, Walker blasted President Barack Obama for hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit, even though as governor he had been friendly to China and obligingly wore a Chinese-American flag pin in an appearance on Chinese state TV.
It’s one thing to play to the mood of voters; it’s another to give the appearance of not quite knowing who you are, which is much more deadly than an August dip in the polls.

As for Marco Rubio, for whom expectations have been so high, he has been the least reactive to Trump. His campaign is still betting on the long game. It believes his natural talent will tell over time, but he doesn’t have a natural geographic or ideological base, and his 21st-century economic agenda — although thoughtful — is not likely to stoke enthusiasm among primary voters.

Ted Cruz may be benefiting most from the Trump surge in his strategic positioning. He has a cogent theory of the case, which is that if he is nice to Trump — and the other outsider candidates — he eventually can inherent his supporters. This makes intuitive sense, although Cruz — exceedingly careful in crafting his words and in calculating his interest — is hardly a natural anti-politician.

It is still August, of course. The rules of gravity say Trump will come back down to earth. The media interest that is so intense now could burn out. His lack of seriousness should be a drag over time, and he will still have to weather more debates and presumably — should he stay strong — a barrage of negative ads.

Even if he fades, though, someone else will have to fill the screen. To this point, No one else has been big or vivid enough to do it.

So Scott Walker, conservative governor of Wisconsin, fighter of the good fight, protector of the public’s money–who hates to see the state spend money on stuff like, oh, higher education–signed a bill today giving $250 million in taxpayer money to the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team so that they can build themselves a new place of business (i.e., an arena).

Now, the Milwaukee Bucks ownership group is not exactly destitute. Among the owners are hedge fund investors with net worths in the billions of dollars. You really mean to tell me that they can’t afford to fund the upgrade of their own place of business? Of course they can. But heck, if they can get the state to pay for it, then why wouldn’t they? And it’s actually pretty easy to do. There’s a playbook for it: You simply threaten to move your team to another state if you don’t get the public’s money.

Another member of the ownership group, Jon Hammes, is the co-chair of Walker’s presidential campaign fundraising effort, and during the arena funding negotiations a Walker super PAC received $150,000 from a corporation register to Hammes’ son. Not that this would sway a man of Walker’s character.

From Paul Waldman of the Washington Post:

[O]ne might have expected more from a politician who is basing his presidential campaign on his eagerness to “fight.” This combativeness is central to Walker’s appeal — but it turns out that he’s only interested in fighting people like union members. Extortionist plutocrats, not so much.

And Walker’s justification — that ponying up for the stadium will be worth it because of the economic impact — has been disproven by just about every analysis of stadium financing. When taxpayers put out hundreds of millions of dollars for shiny new stadiums, they don’t make back the money in increased tax revenue. If you want to argue that it’s worth paying for solely because people love sports even if it costs taxpayers a great deal, then go ahead and make that argument. But no politician does.

Even more fundamentally, one has to ask why “small government” conservatives — as Walker and every other Republican candidate considers himself — think that government should be in the business of building stadiums. Don’t they believe in the power and wisdom of the market? If the shrewd businessmen who own the Bucks would increase their profits by building themselves a new stadium, then they’ll do it. If it wouldn’t increase their profits, then they won’t, and the market will have spoken.

Yes, one has to ask why Walker thinks the government should be funding the place of business of his cronies. Well, maybe not, because I think we all know the answer to that question, don’t we.

You know those emails your conservative uncle sends to you and everyone else he knows? The ones that sound like they might be true, but aren’t? Yeah, we all get them. Funny, I never get those emails from my liberal friends and relatives, even the ones I know well who worked on past presidential campaigns. But I digress…

It’s always delightful to see actual Republican presidential candidates demonstrate that they are no wiser–nor thoughtful, nor capable of discerning fact from fiction–than your crazy uncle, uttering bogus quotes about the Founding Fathers that they probably read in an email (and therefore assumed that it must be true). Steven Benen noted a few examples in this post.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) routinely incorporates quotes from the Founding Fathers into his campaign speeches, and BuzzFeed highlighted a good example of this the other day.

Speaking in Greenville, South Carolina last week, Rand Paul said, “Patrick Henry said this, Patrick Henry said the Constitution is about ‘restraining the government not the people.’”

Paul was summarizing this quote, often attributed to Henry: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

The problem, of course, is that both versions of the quote are fake. There’s no record of Patrick Henry ever having said or written such a thing. Someone made it up, it made the rounds, and Rand Paul appears to have repeated it.

This comes on the heels of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) telling supporters that “Thomas Jefferson said it best” when the Founding Father said, “That government is best which governs least.”

In reality, Thomas Jefferson never said or wrote this. As with Paul, someone made up a quote, conservatives ran with it, and Walker ended up falling for it. (In an amusing coincidence, Rand Paul has repeated this bogus quote, too.)

Another conservative-led state underperforms:

Wisconsin ranked 40th in the nation in private-sector job growth during the one-year period between September 2013 and September 2014, according to the latest detailed job numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The numbers come from the Bureau’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which economists say is the gold standard of job metrics. Because the QCEW is so thorough, the numbers take a long time to report.

They showed Wisconsin added private-sector jobs at a rate of about 1.16 percent from September 2013 to September 2014. By comparison, private-sector jobs grew by 2.3 percent nationwide.

All neighboring states fared better than Wisconsin, and when matched up against a broader region of 10 Midwest states, only Nebraska fared worse.

The Walker administration also released less-accurate monthly job estimates early Thursday morning, which were much more positive. They showed Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in February of 2015.

Not only is the state faring poorly due to Governor Scott Walker’s policies, he also feels the need to lie about it. How typically conservative.