Monday, July 13, 2015


In a National Journal story, an adviser to Scott Walker openly boasts that Walker is going to flip-flop if he's the Republican presidential nominee next year:
... according to Walker allies, he's going to pursue exactly the opposite strategy Romney used in 2012. Whereas Romney started in the middle and moved rightward throughout primary season, Walker is starting on the right and will shift toward the middle.

"You start in Iowa and lock up conservatives, because if you don't do that, none of the rest matters," said one longtime Walker adviser, who requested anonymity to discuss campaign strategy. "It's much easier to move from being a conservative to being a middle-of-the-road moderate later on."

The adviser added: "In Iowa, you see the beginnings of that. He's capturing that conservative wing first and foremost, and then moving from Iowa to the other states and bringing other voters into the fold."
But that doesn't mean he'd govern from the center -- as the NJ story makes clear, Walker is known to fake centrism come general election time, only to revert to hardcore conservatism once the ballots have been counted:
"I'm pro-life," Scott Walker said, looking directly into the camera. "But there's no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That's why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor."

That was last October, less than a month before Election Day, when the Wisconsin governor was locked in a tight reelection battle with Democrat Mary Burke. Her allies were attacking Walker for signing a bill that required women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. He responded with this memorable 30-second ad, part of an ongoing effort to soften Walker's image in the eyes of on-the-fence voters. In deeply polarized Wisconsin, they would decide the race. Exit polling shows they broke to him: Walker beat Burke among independents by 11 points en route to winning a second term.

Walker will announce Monday that he's running for president. And dovetailing with the campaign launch will be a ceremony in which the governor signs into law a 20-week abortion ban that makes no exception for rape or incest. This hard-line stance on abortion, juxtaposed against the tone he struck on the issue last fall, provides a window into Walker's political style and helps explain how he got to this point.

... Walker has mastered the art of governing in a manner that mobilizes the party faithful while campaigning in a way that doesn't scare off moderates, independents, and even some Democrats. This misdirection has been the source of much of Walker's political success.
I keep telling you that the Republicans might win in 2016, in part because top-tier mainstream journalists loathe Hillary Clinton (and don't have much respect for Bernie Sanders, if you think he'll pull off a primary upset). I keep thinking that 2016 might be a rerun of 2000, when a Democrat the press didn't like tried to win a third presidential term for the party and was sabotaged by the media, which developed a mancrush on his Republican opponent.

I still think this could happen. But I don't think it could happen with Scott Walker. I think Walker will try to lull the press into thinking he's a moderate, and I think the press would like to be lulled into thinking the GOP nominee is a moderate, but I don't think Walker can pull it off.

But it won't be for a good reason. It'll be because the press thinks Walker is an unsexy stupid hick.

Look, I have an Ivy League sheepskin, but my parents never got past high school. I don't think people who have degrees from elite colleges have a monopoly on wisdom or truth. To some extent, it makes me cringe when the elite media harps on Walker's status as a college dropout. (New York Times headline yesterday: "Scott Walker, Viewed as ‘Authentic,’ Aims for ‘Smart’ in the 2016 Race.")

But that's a big part of the reason mainstream journalists won't respond to Walker the way they responded to George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign, Bush, unlike Walker, was a product of elite schools, which matters to the press. (Why do you think the MSM still respects Bobby Jindal, and keeps trying to give Dartmouth grad Dinesh D'Souza a do-over?)

A related problem? Walker is boring. This is Walker on social media:

See also his collected tweets about eating hot ham.

Being boring has been part of Walker's strategy in Wisconsin, and I imagine it works beautifully there -- he comes off as the goofy, sexless dad who bargain-shops at Kohl's, and just enough voters overlook the nasty extremism of his agenda. Well, the national press would like to back a Regular Guy, but they don't want a low-T dad -- they want a bro. George W. Bush was a bro. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and JFK were brainy bros (an ideal combination!). The other GOP front-runners have a lot more bro in them than Walker does. (Yes, Trump included, in his odd Christie-on-crack fashion.)

The press should expose Walker's deceptive centrism in a general election campaign because the press cares deeply about the truth -- but I think the reason he won't be able to get way with it is that the press won't root for him. I'll take it, though, if that's how things work out.


mlbxxxxxx said...

I guess, if Walker is the GOP candidate, I won't care why he is defeated. Even if it is out of an elitist attitude that he's not worthy, I say "hooray." I do feel that his lack of education suggests someone who is not curious about the world -- not a good characteristic for a leader. I know you are right that a lot of the media gave Bush a pass because of his Ivy education, even though he probably got about as much out of his college education as Walker did, at least in terms of an actual education and not just contacts for future business deals. But many made note of Bush's clear lack of curiosity and Walker seems to share that characteristic.

Bottom line, Walker is bad medicine and I don't care if it takes a meteor strike, he must be stopped. You can't make me feel sorry for him. Nor do I necessarily agree that judging him for dropping out of college is unfair or unreasonable.

petrilli said...

That perfect barometer of village group think, Tweety thinks Walker is a centrist. How that is possible I can't explain. At any rate, I don't care if Walker gets beat pretty. As long as he gets beat.

Unknown said...

He has the personality profile of the commandant of a detention facility.

History suggests such types normally don't do well in elections for POTUS, but there are precedents - since WWII, all out of the same major national party.

Getting to be POTUS needn't require a college education, or charm, or curiosity, so long as one's prepared to bully, lie & steal. There's no basis for thinking Walker incapable of all that & worse.

Victor said...

I switched during a commercial on Jeopardy - my mom and I watch that every evening - to Chris's show, and he said that he always thought that Wanker was a moderate.

He's said the same thing over the last few months every time I switch over, and Wanker is the subject.

Chris either doesn't pay any attention to stories he "covers" and his guests, or he's getting senile.
Or, of course, both.

flipyrwhig said...

Every picture of Scott Walker makes him look like an overburdened shift manager, or one of the coworkers who didn't quite become characters in the UK version of The Office. He should be wearing a short sleeve dress shirt with a red tie.

Marcus said...

Clinton will win….her husband will do most of the deliveries with Obama they are the two most talented politicians in a century (Reagan being the other)…they will have the money that can match the republicans ….the only thing that bothers me is campaign strategy themes…they need to hire David Plouffe…the media is a paper tiger…Hilary just needs to go at them as elitist and out of touch with the struggles of middle class by defining them…do a couple of fox interviews so she can widen the field…remember theses journalist work for access…the winner remembers who to give it to.
As to Bernie Sanders an incredible honest man with a beautiful message…it’s just that Bernie is the wrong messenger…and the socialist message needs to be spoon feed not given as whole which he incorrectly does….it makes it sound un-American and weak…plus he is terrible at stagecraft …he would be “Carterized” from the starting gate in the general

White Hat said...

It's not just that Walker is too boring to be a media hit.

At some point, Bernie Sanders' Secret Weapon will come into play, the Inconceivable Sums of Money question.

You routinely suggest that Da Media leads the national discussion of politics. That may have been true for some time, but it's not true now. Bernie is in process of flipping that script. You can't fill stadiums without changing perceptions. Ultimately, Da Media are not leaders, they're followers - of the story.