I've been very late to this Scott Walker thing, so I'm trying to catch up, and what surprises me is that you can actually go to jail in Wisconsin for mingling campaign and government business in a government office -- I mean, obviously I know it's illegal, but I assumed nobody in America ever got more than a wrist-slap for it:
Even as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin looks ahead to 2016 and a possible presidential bid, his political past as Milwaukee County executive has come back to haunt him.This is being compared to Chris Christie's Bridgegate, but if average Americans ever pay attention, I think they're to regard it as a big nothing -- politicians and staff work on campaigns during business hours? We're shocked, shocked! The same goes for the topic of the other ongoing Walker investigation, an effort to determine whether the campaign staff that enabled Walker to survive a recall election coordinated with independent groups. Ordinary Americans are going to assume that they all do that. This isn't like Bridgegate, in which real people actually suffered real consequences.
A release of 27,000 emails and hundreds of court documents on Wednesday portrays Mr. Walker, a Republican, as having presided over an office where aides used personal computers and email to conceal that they were mixing government and campaign business. The conduct of campaign work on government time led to the criminal convictions of two aides and several others.
It's also not like Bridgegate because Bridgegate comes off as an expression of Chris Christie's personality, not to mention the zeitgeist of the Northeast. It seems like something The Daily Show's writers dreamed up so Jon Stewart could talk about it (and about Christie) in a dese-dems-and-dose accent. It's now infused into America's idea of Christie the Joisey tough guy. Whereas the relationship between the Walker scandals and Walker's personality is ... um, does he even have a personality? Outside Wisconsin, we have no idea. And the scandal itself has no sex, no rage, no Nixonian vindictiveness.
And yet it looks as if there could be actual legal consequences for Walker; also his scandal is breaking before a reelection campaign, not (as in Christie's case) after. So Walker may be in real trouble. (Trust me: Christie's gonna walk.)
But Christie will have a hard time living down Bridgegate even if the whole thing fizzles out. It's now a big part of who we think he is. By contrast, if they never pin anything on Walker, and he wins reelection anyway, it won't weigh him down if he runs for president. It's too generic -- it's what we assume all pols do.
Yes, staffers' racist email forwards give this story a bit of (unpleasant) personality. But they're not going to have a lasting impact -- unless we find Walker himself forwarding this stuff,