mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Not What The People Want”: Scott Walker Failed Because He Followed The Republican Party’s Playbook

On Monday evening, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that he was dropping out of the 2016 presidential race. “Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” he said. He claimed his decision was motivated by a desire to help voters “focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” a reference to Donald Trump.

That Walker would leave on that note is only natural: No candidate has suffered more, or more directly, from Trump’s insurgent 2016 run. Eight months ago, Walker, a deeply red governor in a traditionally blue state, was a favorite to win his party’s nomination. He had garnered a national reputation among conservatives, including the wealthy donor class, thanks to victories in dogged local fights over budget austerity and labor issues. His environmental agenda was as dangerous as any we are likely to see this campaign season. With a folksy, Cheez Whiz sort of charm, and a proven record of conservative achievements, he seemed the perfect vessel through which to unite the increasingly powerless Republican establishment with its increasingly volatile fringe.

This was supposed to be the model for the Republican Party’s success in 2016 and beyond, as outlined in the GOP’s autopsy report following the 2012 election. “Republican governors, conservatives at their core, have campaigned and governed in a manner that is inclusive and appealing,” the report stated. “They point the way forward.”

Across the board, however, the aversion to established Republican leaders is making its presence felt in the 2016 race. Of the nine governors to enter the field, only one, Jeb Bush, is currently polling within the top five, according to a CNN poll released on Sunday. Rick Perry and now Walker have dropped out, and three more—Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore—may not be far behind. In the end, Walker’s demonstrable accomplishments paled in comparison to Trump’s bluster.

Trump certainly isn’t the only reason for the Walker campaign’s collapse. Liz Mair, a former Walker strategist, offered up a lengthy autopsy on Twitter, with likely causes ranging from poor staffing decisions to the candidate’s confusion as to his “real identity as a political leader.” Others have pointed to Walker’s seeming ignorance of foreign policy issues and his campaign’s myopic focus on Iowa. In what turned out to be a prescient dissection of his campaign last week, The Washington Post quoted one “major” Walker donor as speculating that “something’s missing in the demeanor” of the candidate. Last week, Walker himself, following his second consecutive debate-night disappearing act, was quick to blame the media.

Yet, in a race that has already discarded one of the other key premises of the GOP’s post-2012 assessment—the need to reach out to Hispanic voters—perhaps it was only a matter of time before governors, too, were brought crashing down. If there’s anything to be learned from Walker’s exit, it’s that being thought of as a promising candidate may be the kiss of death in the 2016 Republican primary. As Doug Gross, a Des Moines, Iowa, lawyer and Republican activist, told Bloomberg shortly before Walker bowed out of the race, the Wisconsin governor “looks and acts and talks like a politician and that’s not what people want.”

 

By: Steven Cohen, The New Republic, September 21, 2015

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Koch Zero”: Is The Fall Of Scott Walker A Sign That The Kochs Are Not As Powerful As They Want Progressives To Think They Are?

With big money in American politics remaining a clear and present threat, and the odds of adding a 28th amendment to the United States Constitution specifically stating that money is not speech and corporations are not people still a bit limited, it’s nice to see that there are still times when big money comes up a bit short, especially as it pertains to a certain wingnut from Wisconsin:

A [recent] poll out of Iowa shows most of what we’ve been seeing in recent weeks with Donald Trump at the top of the pack followed by Ben Carson and none of the other candidates in double digits. The real headline out of the poll, though is the seeming collapse of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Presidential campaign…

It’s been quite a collapse for Walker over the past two months. Not only was he leading in Iowa and performing strongly in both nationally and in New Hampshire, but he was widely seen as a candidate that could appeal to both the conservative base of the Republican Party and the more moderate “establishment” and business wings. His rise to national prominence due to the showdown over public employee unions in Wisconsin, and his subsequent victories in not only getting his favored legislation passed but also pushing back against a recall effort that resulted from the union showdown and then wining re-election last years made him something of a national hero among Republicans and the calls for him to run for President began long before his re-election as Governor last November. Before the race for the Republican nomination really began, many analysts foresaw that Walker could be a strong competitor to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, especially if he managed to do as well in the Iowa Caucuses as the early polls were indicating.

As time went on, though, it became clear that Walker was not as good a candidate as his Wisconsin experience and press clippings made it seem. Early on even before he got into the race, Walker got into hot water with conservatives over his hiring of Republican strategist Liz Mair to run his campaign’s social media operation because, among other things, Mair had made comments on Twitter before being hired that were critical of the Iowa Caucuses as well as her personal position on immigration reform. Mair ended up resigning, but it was Walker who ended up coming out of the whole incident looking like someone who would cave to pressure over something as silly as a couple inoffensive tweets. Immigration quickly became the source of another problem for Walker when, although he had once supported immigration reform that included some form of what conservatives call “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, he was caught flip-flopping on the issue when campaigning in Iowa. Later, it was reported that Walker had told high level donors in a private meeting that he actually still did support some form of “amnesty” as party of an immigration reform effort. Walker’s effort to get in the good graces of the hard right base of the party has extended to even making statements critical of legal immigration. More recently, he has been caught taking our different positions on the issue of birthright citizenship over the course of seven days in the wake of Donald Trump’s introduction of his immigration plan. All of this has led to the impression that Walker will say whatever he needs to whichever audience he is talking to, which is obviously a much harder thing to do in the era of the Internet and the ease with which someone can record a campaign appearance with their phone.

It’s amazing, and amusing, to bear witness to Walker’s collapse—and the reality that his notorious alliance with Charles and David Koch is seemingly providing no tangible benefit whatsoever to his campaign. Could this be a sign that the Kochs are not nearly as powerful as they want progressives to think they are?

If Walker soon joins Rick Perry as a former Republican presidential candidate, it will be a fitting comeuppance for a man who, like Chris Christie, thought aligning himself with the Kochs would clear a path to the White House. Who would have thought that both men would end up in a political outhouse?

UPDATE: More from Ed Kilgore, Vox and Think Progress. Also, from 2011, Rachel Maddow on the beginning of Walker’s war on labor and his unholy alliance with the Kochs. Plus, from the June/July/August 2015 issue of the Washington Monthly, Donald F. Kettl on Walker’s dark legacy.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 19, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, Koch Brothers, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Cowering Before A Few Rotting Corn Stalks”: Scott Walker, The Gutless Wonder Of The 2016 Presidential Race

Sometimes the most inside-baseball political stories tell you something essential about a presidential candidate. That’s what happened this week to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who apparently wants to win the Iowa caucuses so badly that he’s willing to torch his staff and his reputation to do it.

The Walker campaign recently announced that it had hired Liz Mair, a highly regarded Republican consultant. Mair has also played pundit at times, and is generally more pro-gay rights and pro-immigration than the average Republican. But that’s typical of Republican consultants in general. It is assumed that policy is set by the candidates themselves, not by the people advising them on their social media accounts.

However, Mair’s hiring was subject to an unusual amount of scrutiny. Muckrakers on the right pointed out that Mair supported “amnesty” for immigrants who had entered the country illegally, or something like it. The Des Moines Register ran an article highlighting some sharp remarks Mair had made about Iowa’s distorting influence on national politics, with its first-in-the-nation status forcing candidates to embrace Iowa’s agricultural subsidies and a federal mandate that requires fuel-inefficient ethanol to be mixed with all gasoline. And finally, Jeff Kauffman, Iowa’s GOP chairman, suggested to The New York Times that Walker should give Mair “her walking papers.”

Mair was gone. Officially, she resigned.

Forcing Mair out was like amputating your finger to deal with a paper cut. Instead of having a problem with a few Iowans and a writer at Breitbart.com, Walker has now baffled his admirers across the right. Mair’s resignation signaled that Walker’s team either didn’t do its homework before hiring Mair, or that it was too spineless to defend her. It is hard to believe the former, since Mair consulted for Walker before during his 2012 recall.

Walker’s unwillingness to defend his own hire will give other consultants and policy experts jitters before joining the team. It totally undercuts his reputation as a tough-minded fighter who stands on principle. And it may contribute to an alternate interpretation of Walker as a ‘fraidy cat. Earlier this month, Walker caved to Iowa ethanol interests by reversing his position on the federal mandate.

The problem, in other words, wasn’t the tweets of a single staffer, but the way Iowa’s parochial concerns act like kryptonite on Walker’s convictions and reputation. He can certainly recover from this, but if Walker thinks his path to the nomination runs through Iowa, he needs to figure out how to win that state’s caucuses without turning into Tom Vilsack before he arrives in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Walker’s approach also contrasts badly with Jeb Bush’s. Bush has been hiring policy brains and strategic brawn from across the right and center-right. He recently hired the social conservative legal activist Jordan Sekulow. Jordan is the son of Jay Sekulow, a pioneer in forming the modern right’s commitment to religious liberty issues at home. The hire was not well-received in the media. It was described as a “lurch to the right.” A number of stories bringing up Jordan Sekulow’s support for anti-gay rights laws in Africa popped up across the media.

Did Bush panic and throw Sekulow under the bus? Nope. He assumes, correctly, that adults won’t confuse the positions of one of his hires with his own. And as it happens, having people who disagree with you on staff is incredibly useful.

If you were a top expert, a policy-thinker, or a consultant, which candidate would you want to work for? The guy who tosses his people out on the say-so of an Iowa Republican whose name he had just learned, or Jeb Bush, who doesn’t give a jus exclusivæ to his enemies?

How would Walker handle a tough Supreme Court nomination battle against a united Democratic Senate, if he folds instantly after some whinging from a right-wing muckraker? Until this week, Walker supporters could have pointed to his white-knuckle fight with Wisconsin’s public-sector unions. Now his critics can point to the way he cowers before a few rotting corn stalks.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, March 19, 2015

March 20, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Iowa Caucuses, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: