Scott Walker starts to do well in polling, and suddenly he’s public enemy number one for the left. They’ve done very well with the tactic of defining the opposition early, but I really hope the left keeps knocking on the guy for not finishing college. I can’t think of any better way to help Walker identify with the working class (you know, those people who failed to turn out for McCain or Romney) than the left disapprovingly pointing out that he might have something in common with many of them. I know people who didn’t finish college who can code rings around people who did. Most of us have friends that didn’t quite make it. Also, let’s face it, Harvard and Yale grads have done a pretty good job of screwing this country up. I’m willing to give a dropout from Marquette a chance.
I’m not sold on Walker yet, but I think he has a lot of positive attributes other candidates lack, and has decent potential to bring all the parts of the GOP coalition along if he can hold it together. I don’t think Walker is offensive to any part of the coalition. Here are the plusses, in my view:
- The left has thrown pretty much everything they can throw at him and nothing has stuck, so far.
- He’s won three times, under enormous and mobilized political opposition, in a blueÂ state that hasn’t voted for the GOP candidate in a presidential election since 1988.
- He’s a preacher’s son of Christian faith, but he doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, and doesn’t seem to have an obnoxious tendency to tell other people how to live. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with evangelicals. Huckabee managed to carry evangelicals in the 2008 primary, but I think Huckabee is going to fall flat this time.
- His record has mostly been one of fiscal conservatism and crushing public sector unions.
- While the big establishment donors are likely behind Jeb, so far Jeb isn’t bowling anyone over. I think the big donors would be willing to back Walker if his candidacy has legs, and Jeb falls flat. I don’t see the big donors getting behind Rand Paul, for instance.
- I have no idea where the Republican Hawks will stand on Walker, but I think he’d likely be acceptable to them. Rand Paul is not likely to be acceptable to them.
- The libertarian leaning part of me would prefer Rand Paul, but I’m not offended by Walker. I’m also a little hawkish. I’m worried about the Russians, and I’d like to destroy ISIS.
- I think on Second Amendment issues, Carson and Christie are the only two we need to be wary of.
- I think Walker’s relatively non-elite credentials will be a plus to bring out working class voters who are disillusioned with the Democrats, but who couldn’t identify with a rich WASP (WASM?) like Mitt Romney.
Of course, there are a lot of things I’m not sure about with Walker:
- Can he build a viable nationwide campaign apparatus and run it effectively? I think he has better political instincts than the GOP consultant class does, and it would be tragic if he had to depend on those snakes to run his campaign.
- Can he draw big donors? If he can’t raise money, he’ll be overshadowed by the candidates that can. It is possible to win against moneyed candidates, but it takes a lot of grassroots energy. Rand Paul can probably draw a large number of very dedicated followers. I’m not sure about Walker, but I might be surprised.
- The guy is a little dull. Granted, after eight years of the Narcissist-in-Chief in the oval office, I’m willing to deal with some midwestern boring. People are attracted to glamorous candidates, and Obama had a lot of glamour. Fortunately it looks like the GOP candidate’s going to be running against a grandma, no matter how the Dem primary turns out.
- He’s going to have an entire national press corps trying to entice him into gaffes. I’m pleased that he smartly dodged a gotcha question from the British press on evolution. Answer yes, and you lose evangelicals. Answer no, and get smeared as a science denying snake handler. Successful politicians tend to be people who know how to charm the media. Reagan and Clinton were good at this. Charming is not a word I would use to describe Scott Walker.
So that’s my thoughts on Walker’s candidacy as it stands right now. What do you think?