Monday, February 09, 2015


Kevin Drum looks at Scott Walker's recent efforts to gut the University of Wisconsin's budget and rework its mission statement ("the search for truth": out) and concludes that Walker may still be trying to find the right balance between red-meat Republicanism and unthreatening right-centrism:
My guess is that his inner circle thought the changes might win Walker some brownie points with the tea party crowd, which has always been suspicious of long-haired academics and their lefty ideas, but failed to see how bad it would look among the less wild-eyed crowd that looks to Walker as a pragmatic executive type. Walker's team is having trouble balancing those two constituencies, and that's a problem since Walker's key appeal is that he bridges the gap between them.

Needless to say, this dumb little affair won't do Walker any long-term damage. It's just a minor dust cloud. Nonetheless, it's an instructive dust cloud. Clearly Walker still hasn't quite managed to polish up the balancing act that's his biggest source of strength in the 2016 presidential race. That's something he needs to figure out in short order.
But I worry that Walker's going to be able to get away with being a right-wing attack dog because he can also dish up innocent-seeming traditionalism in a way that's equally pleasing to the base while seeming harmless to all but the jaded sophisticates. I include myself among the jaded sophisticates, but I worry that much of America -- including many, many heartlanders who have voted Democratic in the past -- will be reassured by a guy who gives speeches like this one, while conservatives will hear their own "traditional values" language being spoken:
... Walker gave a speech this weekend to Maranatha Baptist University’s “Developing Leaders for Ministry in the Local Church and the World” seminar.

Walker’s father was pastor of First Baptist Church in Delavan, Wisconsin in the 1970s.

The governor called on those in attendance to pray for America’s leaders....

While he acknowledged his political support, “more than anything, I appreciate the prayers.”
The base loves that sort of talk. And yet it's not the sort of religious aggression we're used to from Rick Santorum and, lately, Mike Huckabee.
... The governor ... spoke of what he learned from his mother.

“Even though she was very quiet, [she] was always looking out for the needs of others. She never backed away from what she believed in, but she was never pushy about it, she just did it; she just lived it,” Peters quotes him as saying.
Mom stuck up for herself ... but she was never pushy about it. Not like those horrible liberal feminists.

More, from an article on the university's website:
His grandmother, in particular, a widow for 34 years, understood the value of money. She “didn’t buy anything on credit” and taught him not to spend money that he didn’t have. “Always save up for it.” Walker noted this principle has guided the way he governs.
Can you say "Balanced Budget Amendment"?

There's a shout-out to the Boy Scouts. There's a shout-out to the American Legion. And, of course, there's a shout-out to Saint Reagan, though it's an apolitical one:
President Ronald Reagan was in office during Walker’s high school years, providing yet another influence on his leadership development. “When I think about President Reagan, what inspired me most about him wasn’t just his political stance, it was his eternal optimism in the American people. The more you do to empower people, not just the structures of government, the better off we will be.”
I don't know how well this speech was received. I don't know if Walker delivered it well. But it suggests that he seeks to conjure up the kinds of images of a vanished America that are catnip to the right without alienating the middle. We learned in the Reagan years that a lot of Americans were hungry for a president who could turn the clock back this way, and who really seemed to believe in the Ozzie and Harriet world he was conjuring up. And George W. Bush mastered the aw-shucks religiosity in his two presidential runs.

I keep saying it: Watch out for this guy. He's going to gull a lot of people.


Victor said...

Hopefully, before he can gull a lot of people, he'll be too busy dodging corruption charges to gull too many of them.

Reagan had charisma.
So did, to various degrees, both Bush's.
Even Nixon had some weird kind of charisma going for him.

I have yet to see it in him. But, then, I don't see much of him.

Any and ALL Republicans are dangerous at this point in time.
I put Wanker 2nd to Ted Cruz on that list - with the fight being for third place between the rest of them.

ladyblug said...

And I keep say it~ Dangerous man. Nixon without the charisma, wit and good looks. I live in WI and it's been awful since this yahoo won the Governorship. Divide and Conquer. He has pitted neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. He is a charlatan, liar, college dropout (well he was asked to leave due to cheating). He has been surrounded by cronies that have spent time in prison for fleecing $ out of veterans. When the MSM gets a hold of him during the general election, they will tear him down just as they are building him up now.

Anonymous said...

And yet, ladybug, and yet . . . your, er, 'fellow Americans', or at least those that live in Wisconsin keep voting for him, not once,not twice, but thrice.

Also, I am amused at various Lefties sneering at the fact that Walker never went to a university. Thank God for that, say I, at least he wasn't infected with the sort of lazy, stupid, juvenile prejudice that passes for thought among your average collection of academics, almost none of whom have ever had to earn a living in the 'real'world!

James Stapleton said...

I hate to break it to you, but college is in the real world. Just because you are against it, doesn't mean it's not real, dufus. This is a particular disorder of the right wing "mind." This is something one could learn a bit about in college, and it's exactly why you and your cohort are anti-intellectual ignoramuses, and proud of it.

ladyblug said...

What James Stapleton said!

Anonymous said...

Not so, James, I admire real intellectualism but rarely come across it from full-time professors who live in their own little bubble which, in recent decades, they have helped to seal off from the outside world where, horror of horrors, there lurk other and contradictory ideas from those they have cherished since they were taught them by, er, well, previous professors!

Professor Fate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shayne Mitchell said...

Professors over age 45 or so have lived in a system where they have the kind of organized protections at work most Americans have lost over the past decades. This does create a bubble effect at times. Many younger profs have lived a more representative work life, being adjuncts with no job security or bargaining unit, bouncing from job to job when available, working long hours for nrar poverty wages - especially when student debt is taken into account.