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.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:
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.
... Walker gave a speech this weekend to Maranatha Baptist University’s “Developing Leaders for Ministry in the Local Church and the World” seminar.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.
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 governor ... spoke of what he learned from his mother.Mom stuck up for herself ... but she was never pushy about it. Not like those horrible liberal feminists.
“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.
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.