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“Fire And Brimstone Coming Down From The Sky”: Scott Walker Vows To ‘Wreak Havoc’ On Washington; As If That Would Be A Good Thing

Can one candidate steal adopt another candidate’s tone and thereby revive his struggling campaign? Scott Walker, currently languishing at around four percent in Republican primary polls, is going to try.

So today, Walker will deliver a speech meant to capture the prevailing sentiment in his party, by means of a promise to “wreak havoc” on the nation’s capital. That may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. Zeke Miller reports:

“To wreak havoc on Washington, America needs a leader with real solutions,” Walker will say. “Political rhetoric is not enough — we need a plan of action. Actions speak louder than words. I have a plan to move this country forward. To wreak havoc on Washington, America also needs a leader who has been tested. I have been tested like no one else in this race. We passed those tests and now, I am ready to lead this exceptional country.”

Perhaps in the speech’s exciting denouement, Walker will quote “Ghostbusters” and promise “fire and brimstone coming down from the sky, rivers and seas boiling, 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”

Do Republican voters really want Washington to be overtaken by “havoc”? Some politicians say they’ll reform Washington, or clean it up, or change the way it does business. But havoc? It certainly shows that Walker is not going to bother telling Republican voters that governing is complicated, and you need someone who can navigate the processes and institutions of Washington if you’re going to achieve the substantive goals you and your party share.

Which is perhaps understandable, given the fact that in current polls, if you combine the support for Donald Trump and Ben Carson — the two candidates with zero government experience, who have never run for office before, and who promise that all the problems we face have easy, simple solutions — you get about 50 percent of the Republican electorate.

So Walker, whose fall has coincided with Trump’s rise, seems ready to try anything to emulate the current frontrunner. There’s precedent for that — in past primaries, when one candidate has won support with a particular message or style, other candidates have often tried to adopt some of it. In 2000, when John McCain was successfully portraying himself as a reformer, George W. Bush started calling himself “a Reformer With Results,” and it actually seemed to work. It was possible because it’s only a couple of steps from “reformer” to “reformer with results,” so voters could decide that while they liked McCain’s reform record, Bush offered something similar, but even better.

Walker’s theory seems to be that there are voters now supporting Donald Trump who’ll say, “I like that Trump is smashing things, so if Scott Walker wants to utterly lay waste to Washington, DC, sign me up!” This seems implausible, to say the least.

Earlier this week, the National Review published an article entitled “Scott Walker: What Went Wrong?“, which sums up the prevailing sentiment among Republicans about the Wisconsin governor. Before the race began in earnest, Walker was the thinking person’s choice to become the Republican nominee, in large part because he offered something for everyone. His union-busting and tax-cutting would appeal to economic conservatives, his evangelical roots would appeal to social conservatives, as a governor he could argue that he has executive experience, and his battles with Democrats in his state showed him to be the kind of partisan warrior partisans like. Many commentators, myself included, thought this would be a powerful combination. We put Walker in the top tier of Republican contenders, along with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

While there’s still plenty of time before the voting starts and things could (and probably will) change, for now that assessment doesn’t look so hot. Trump, on the other hand, has demonstrated the degree to which Republican voters hold not only the federal government but their own party’s leaders in contempt. As he’d say, they’re losers, politicians who have been making promises to their constituents for years (we’re going to repeal Obamacare any day now!) but have been utterly unable to deliver. If you want to capitalize on that sentiment, you can do it substantively, by moving your positions on some important issues, or you can do it stylistically, which is what Walker looks to be trying to do.

The degree to which Trump’s success would influence the other candidates is something we’ve been trying to figure out for a while now. Would he pull them to the right on immigration as they tried to capture some of his voters, or would they present themselves as more thoughtful and reasonable, to heighten the contrast with Trump? The question could matter a great deal in the general election (presuming Trump is not the nominee), because if they choose to be more like Trump, they’ll harm themselves among the voters they’d need next fall. But it may not be possible even in the primaries to win over Trump’s voters by trying to be more like him. No matter what you promise to do to Washington, you just can’t out-Trump Trump.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, September 9, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Increasingly Obvious That Scott Walker Sucks”: When You’re As Bad At Campaigns As Scott Walker, You Should Just Give Up

Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is only a little over 50 days old, and it’s increasingly obvious that Scott Walker sucks. Not for his record or what he believes, although both of those are – to borrow a phrase from William Safire – extremely sucky. But Scott Walker is not good at this campaign thing.

A good campaign introduces a candidate and his best ideas to sympathetic and like-minded voters through a combination of events, press coverage and paid outreach, allowing him or her to attract campaign donations and new supporters alike. A bad campaign forces a candidate to get on the phone to reassure his existing donors that he exists and is going to abandon the “sinking into obscurity” tactic that hadn’t been working. A truly terrible campaign is at hand when the most widely-reported news story is the candidate’s old claim that his bald spot totally isn’t genetic but comes from banging his head against the underside of a cabinet.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way: one of Walker’s selling points was winning three elections in five years (the first one, the recall, then the reelection). In theory, Walker should have been the most experienced, most natural and most effortless Republican candidate. Jeb Bush hasn’t run this decade; Ted Cruz only ran once; Chris Christie is dogged by corruption allegations; Rick Perry has the mental aptitude of two dogs in an overcoat; and Rand Paul was gifted his father’s movement and all his out-of-state donors but none of his charisma at talking about basing an international currency on stuff you dig out of the ground.

Walker should have been able to campaign circles around everyone else in the race. Instead, he’s getting his rear end handed to him by a meringue-haired hotelier and a political neophyte surgeon who speaks with the dizzy wonderment of someone trying to describe their dream from last night while taking mushrooms for the first time.

Donald Trump’s existence in the race actually seems to be goading Walker into looking worse, when you’d think that The Donald’s hogging all the attention might have helped Walker avoid embarrassing revelations. After all, Walker’s political record basically involves refusing to tell anyone what his plans are and then doing something politically craven: he first campaigned on fixing Wisconsin’s budget, then once elected decided that it was public-sector unions’ fault and used a short-term crisis as an excuse to gut them; he evaded discussion about potential anti-union “right-to-work” legislation by calling it a distraction, then signed a right-to-work bill; he ducked questions about legislating more abortion restrictions, then signed a 20-week abortion ban.

And that doesn’t even get into the hail of convictions and indictments in his administration and the campaign finance investigation that suddenly stopped thanks to Wisconsin Supreme Court justices who received donations from many of the same groups being investigated. Walker was always going to have trouble with the scrutiny of a national campaign, outside those justices’ reach and outside the demographics of an overwhelmingly white state whose racial divisions he heightened with the help of a sycophantic right-wing media.

Instead, Walker seems to have felt that any gap in his coverage should have an unforced error hurled through it. He’s blamed cop-shootings (which are down since the Bush Administration) on President Obama and declared himself the candidate who can heal racial divides by getting black people to forgive, instead of protest, racists and racist violence. Instead of just mouthing the Republican repeal-and-replace Obamacare mantra, he came up with an actual replacement plan for the other candidates to criticize – a medley of conservative ideas so old they’ve got whiskers – while his competitors simply promise to deregulate the sucker and tell poor people they can pay for healthcare with trickling-down Ayn Rand fun-bucks. Walker even unsuccessfully tried his hand at xenophobic Trumpism, calling out Barack Obama for meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping – the same Chinese president that Walker himself flew to China to meet.

And, most incredibly, last weekend Walker started talking about the need to secure the border with Canada: not only securing it, but building a wall, never mind the fact that the border is 3,500 miles longer than the US-Mexico border and goes through four of the Great Lakes. When you start speculating about a US-Canada wall, maybe you should be doing literally anything else; this gig is probably just not for you when your most recent big idea is seeing what happens when you confront a wholly unnecessary problem with a solution that’s completely insane.

Still, Walker soldiers on, trying to get political mileage out of being a Harley Davidson owner, a problematic and confused form of symbolism at best. It’s not like you have to do or be anyone to buy a Harley – they sell bikes on the basis of currency, not biker credibility. Harley Davidson is, however, a union company that has benefited from millions in state subsidies and government assistance during the 2007-8 financial crisis – not quite the right fit for an anti-union, anti-government assistance poster boy.

Walker, touring New Hampshire on said Harley, seems to love any photo op when he’s in his leather jacket, though it does nothing to obscure the fact that he looks like he wakes up every morning and frowns at 30 identical chambray button-downs before picking one to tuck into one of 30 identical flat-front chinos. Scott Walker looks like every dad who is trying too hard to look cool during his Saturday afternoon trip to Home Depot to buy an Allen wrench because he lost the one that came with his wife’s Ikea Hemnes dressing table.

But trying and failing to look hardcore is sort of a thing with Walker. On the debate stage near a one-man burn unit like Donald Trump, Walker did everything short of vanish into the background. At CPAC, he burnished his credibility as someone who can stop Isis by saying, “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world. But he didn’t take on 100,000 protesters. During the protests, he slunk to and from the Wisconsin state capitol via underground tunnels and his legislature hasrepeatedly revised rules to restrict capitol protests. He even lied about having his car threatened.

On Tuesday, a benighted Walker told CNBC that he doesn’t think he’s a career politician: “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years,” he said. Walker, who is 47, first ran for office at age 22, and finally did so successfully at age 25. That was 22 years ago. When you have negligible work experience outside your current field, which you’ve been in for nearly half your time on this earth, sorry, it’s your career. It’s like someone who just drank a case of 3.2% beer claiming he’s sober because he didn’t touch any hard liquor. Sure, pal, take the keys and fire up the road beast and try to peel out of here.

The longer a presidential campaign goes on, the more fundamental truths you inevitably encounter, usually things the candidates and their handlers labor tirelessly to obscure. But sometimes the revelations come fast, and when they do, they are usually particularly unkind.

Scott Walker should’ve been the Republicans’ – or at least the Koch Brothers’ – Dark Money Knight, riding manfully to Washington on his union-busting, climate-change-denying Harley, driving the real career politicians from the city like Sobieski lifting the siege of Vienna. Instead, he’s looking more like a man destined to return to Madison with a wad of Delta Sky Miles to haunt the capitol tunnels, a wraith occasionally seizing hapless passersby at underground crossroads and demanding they tell him if they’ve seen Ronald Reagan, what causes male-pattern baldness and how big Canada is.

 

By: Jeb Lund, The Guardian, September 3, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Koch Brothers, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“What A ‘Career Politician’ Looks Like”: Even Though He’s Been In Elected Office Since Age 25, Walker Denies He’s A Career Politician

If recent polling is any indication, Republican voters place a premium on inexperience. Donald Trump, who’s never worked in government at any level, is obviously the dominant GOP candidate, at least for now, but he’s followed by Ben Carson, a retired far-right neurosurgeon who’s never sought or held public office.

Add Carly Fiorina to the mix and their combined poll support points to a striking detail: about half of GOP voters are backing presidential candidates who’ve never worked a day in public service.

It’s leading more experienced White House hopefuls to downplay their qualifications and pretend they’re not so experienced after all. The Associated Press reported yesterday:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denies he’s a career politician – even though he has been in elected office since he was 25 years old and first ran for office when he was 22.

 The 47-year-old Republican presidential contender said in an interview with CNBC, released Tuesday, that he is “just a normal guy” and rejects the career politician label despite being in politics for most of his adult life.

The two-term governor argued, “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years.”

By any fair measure, this really is silly. There’s no point in having a semantics debate over the meaning of the word “politician,” but when Scott Walker dropped out of college, it’s not because he was flunking – he was motivated in part by a desire to run for public office. The Republican lost that race at the age of 22, but Walker then moved to a more conservative district, tried again, and won a state Assembly race at the age of 25.

The man has, quite literally, spent more than half of his life as a political candidate or political officeholder. As an adult, Walker’s entire career has been in politics. The AP report added that Walker has served “nine years in the Assembly, eight years as Milwaukee County executive and is now in his fifth year as governor.”

What’s wrong with that? To my mind, nothing – there’s something inherently admirable about someone committing themselves to public service through elected office. If an American wants to make a difference, and he or she repeatedly earns voters’ support, it’s hardly something to be embarrassed about.

And in Scott Walker’s case, it’s hardly something to lie about. Presidential candidates who pretend to be something they’re not tend not to do well.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 2, 2015

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Elected Officials, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Walker Eyes Border Wall … For The Other Border”: A Nutty Idea, Even By The Standards Of GOP Presidential Candidates

When far-right politicians endorse the construction of a massive border wall, they rarely specify which border, because it’s simply assumed they’re not overly concerned about Canadians.

When it comes to border security, it’s only natural to wonder why Republicans seem vastly more energized about our neighbors to the south than those to the north. I was delighted to see NBC’s Chuck Todd ask Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) about this yesterday.

One issue he plans to fix if elected is the terrorist threat posed by the nation’s porous borders, and he said while he’s most concerned about the southern U.S. border, he’d be open to building a wall to secure the northern border as well.

 “Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire. They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” he said.

And I’ll be eager to hear what the far-right candidate comes up with after he “looks at” building a northern border wall – because the idea is a little nutty, even by the standards of GOP presidential candidates.

For now, let’s put aside the issues – the costs, the needs, etc. – related to a building a giant wall along the U.S/Mexico border. Let’s instead consider Walker’s apparent concerns about Canada.

As the Republican governor may know – his home state is roughly along the northern border – the United States and Canada don’t simply share a lengthy land mass. There are these things known as the “Great Lakes,” which the two countries share. Even trying to build a giant wall through them would be … how do I put this gently … impractical.

The alternative, of course, is building a water-front wall along U.S. states that border the lakes. Some folks might not like the view, but we’re either going to take border security seriously or we’re not, right?

There’s also the not-so-small matter of Alaska. Even if a Walker administration takes up a plan to build a wall from Seattle to Maine, let’s not forget that the United States actually has two borders with Canada: one along Canada’s southern border, and then another along Canada’s northwestern border. Indeed, the border Alaska shares with British Columbia and Yukon Territory (about 1,500 miles) is almost as long as the border the continental United States shares with Mexico (about 1,900 miles).

Depending on how serious the Wisconsinite is about this, we’ll probably have to talk about some maritime borders, too, since we run the risks of terrorists and undocumented immigrants showing up along American shorelines in boats.

Given the Republican Party’s general hostility towards investing in American infrastructure, it’s important to note that these border walls would likely carry an enormous price tag. Nevertheless, Scott Walker considers this “a legitimate issue for us to look at,” so let the debate begin.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015 Posted by | Border Security, Canada, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Outsourcing Of Jobs”: Scott Walker’s Secret Love For Red China

Just before the 2012 presidential election, a prominent Republican governor appeared on Chinese state television wearing a lapel pin on his dark blazer that depicted that country’s hammer-and-sickle flag.

In an interview, he brushed off his party’s concerns about trade with China, downplayed citizens’ worries about outsourcing, and called the country’s trade practices “good and fair.”

That governor was Scott Walker—the same governor who, on Tuesday, confused just about everyone by saying Obama should make the Chinese president cancel his upcoming state visit. Same guy.

Walker has a record as being extraordinarily comfortable with China and its leaders, even going so far as to praise the country’s trade practices on government TV.

China and international trade issues have become central to the 2016 presidential campaign, especially given that the country’s economic struggles precipitated Monday’s stock market dive. As he’s done with immigration, Walker fast moved to be the furthest right on China, releasing a statement calling for Obama to cancel Chinese president Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit.

“Given China’s massive cyberattacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to cancel the state visit,” Walker said in the statement.

But up until yesterday, concerns about Chinese currency manipulation and human rights violations seemed far from Walker’s mind. (Of note: human rights leaders also called for Obama to cancel Xi’s visit.)  Throughout his governorship, Walker adopted rhetoric and policies that sought to build bridges and deepen relationships between China and Wisconsin—even though, according to one analysis, the Badger State lost more than 600,000 jobs during his tenure because of the growing Chinese trade deficit and the country’s currency manipulation. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Walker has criticized Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit for being mere “pomp and circumstance.” But pomp and circumstance didn’t bother him in 2011, when he attended an official dinner in Chicago for then-Chinese president Hu Jintao. The city’s mayor at the time, Richard Daley, hosted the dinner on Jan. 21, 2011—a little more than a week before Walker’s inauguration. Valerie Jarrett, Sen. Mark Kirk, and Sen. Dick Durbin also attended, according to a press release from the city. Walker and the other guests savored “a traditional Midwestern menu with Asian accents,” and listened to Daley discuss his efforts to promote the study of Chinese language and culture in city public schools.

Over the course of his governorship, Walker didn’t exactly try to put daylight between the Badger State and China. Shortly before the 2012 presidential election, Walker made an appearance on CCTV—a Chinese state television broadcaster—sporting a lapel pin that depicted the American and Chinese flags side by side, waving over Wisconsin (Wisconsin blogger Jud Lounsbury flagged the video on YouTube in 2013).

The conversation was pegged to the criticism that the Republican presidential ticket had leveled at China’s trade practices.

“Despite all the criticism on China from the Romney/Ryan campaign, Gov. Walker has been an advocate of bringing more Chinese investment to his state and increasing trade with China,” said the host, introducing the segment by contrasting him with fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.

Walker said state leaders needed to communicate with Chinese investors about the benefits of trade with Wisconsin.

“[I]t’s our responsibility to show them good investments that will ultimately help put people to work in our state, that will provide a return on investment to those Chinese investors,” Walker said. “It’s not only good for our state, good for our employees, good for the investors, but also good for the people of China.”

He also called the trade status quo “good and fair.”

“The best way for us to show that there’s a good and fair trading system is to do what we’re doing right here. We’re living!” Walker said. “We’re not just talking about — we’re living it this week, we’re putting in place something that’s a mutually beneficial scenario, and I think that’s what most people and most voters ultimately want out of their leaders.”

And he said Wisconsin’s trade with China didn’t result in outsourcing.

“You look at that almost $1.4 billion worth of exports from Wisconsin to China—that’s not exporting jobs, that’s exporting products,” he said. “That’s a win-win.”

Walker backed up that rhetoric with action. A few months after appearing on Chinese state TV, he led a trade mission to China that included representatives from a variety of companies, as well as from the now-troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the state government. They visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Harbin, according to a press release.

While he was there, Walker attended the U.S.-China Governors Forum. Terry Branstad, the Republican governor of Iowa, led the American governors’ delegation there.Branstad took those two to visit Xi during the trip, according to the Des Moines Register. The paper noted that Xi rarely meets visiting foreign dignitaries, and that Walker benefited from Branstad’s ability to make the introduction.

Walker also opened a Wisconsin/China trade center in Shanghai on the trip.

“This trade center strengthens our relationship with China and provides Wisconsin businesses the resources and assistance to pursue export opportunities in this growing market,” he said, according to a press release. “Through the years, Wisconsin has built a strong trade relationship with China, and the opening of the Wisconsin Center China will help Wisconsin businesses continue to strengthen our trade relationships and grow export opportunities.”

(Note: Nothing on persecution of Christians or human rights abuses.)

Back home in Wisconsin, concerns about China got him in a bit of trouble. Walker’s 2013-2015 biennial budget proposal included a provision that would have foreign individuals and corporations own unlimited amounts of land in the state, even if they didn’t live there.

“[T]here’s no question that this would allow the Chinese government to buy a big chunk of land in northwest Wisconsin if it wanted to,” said then Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz at the time, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Republicans yanked that provision from the budget after it drew outrage.

But that didn’t constrain the governor’s energy for improving relations with China. On his trade trip, he oversaw the finalization of a handful of trade deals, including one in which one of the country’s biggest medicine companies promised it would only sell ginseng in its stores if it was from Wisconsin. According to WBNS-10TV, the Chinese prize Wisconsin ginseng, but the market is riddled with counterfeit products that claiming to be from Wisconsin but aren’t. Walker estimated the deal could be worth up to $200 million to businesses in the state.

Since then, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has lavishly praised the state’s relationship with China. On Dec. 8, 2014, her office put out a press release touting the ginseng deal and saying she and Walker were committed to “diplomatic relationships that will position Wisconsin to benefit from Asia’s rise.”

The New York Times reported in July that Walker “met or [spoke] with” Xi Jinpeng at some point in the last few months, as well as other world leaders.

All this is to say that Walker helmed energetic efforts to improve Wisconsin’s trade relationship with China. But he doesn’t appear to have done much to check the nation’s currency manipulation and unfair trade practices.

Robert Scott, the director of trade and manufacturing policy research at the Economic Policy Institute—a labor-affiliated think tank—said Walker could have gone much further in pushing back against China. Scott said Walker could have filed an unfair trade practices complaint with the World Trade Organization or pressured the Treasury to do more about China’s currency manipulation.

“I’ve heard no efforts from the governor or anyone else on that front, until last week,” Scott said.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin governor’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on if Walker had (or could have) pursued any of those remedies.

Scott added that canceling Xi’s state visit “could cause China to overreact.”

“The Chinese are very sensitive to saving face,” he said, “and I think if you were just to insult the Chinese president, just for the sake of insulting him, I don’t think it would be useful in improving the relationship.”

“I think it could cause China to dig in his heels,” he added.

And, Scott noted, that could be particularly tough on Wisconsin. Scott’s research indicates that Wisconsin would stand to benefit more than any other state if China and other countries stopped manipulating their currencies because of the state’s sizable durable goods industry.

Scott’s research also tracks how many jobs individual states lose each year because of outsourcing. He estimates that, thus far in Walker’s governorship, Wisconsin has netted 600,000 lost jobs because of outsourcing to China.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015 Posted by | China, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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