Still a Long Way from the 2016 Primaries, a Look at Scott Walker

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:

  1. The left has thrown pretty much everything they can throw at him and nothing has stuck, so far.
  2. He’s won three times, under enormous and mobilized political opposition, in a blue state that hasn’t voted for the GOP candidate in a presidential election since 1988.
  3. 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.
  4. His record has mostly been one of fiscal conservatism and crushing public sector unions.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I think on Second Amendment issues, Carson and Christie are the only two we need to be wary of.
  9. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

23 thoughts on “Still a Long Way from the 2016 Primaries, a Look at Scott Walker”

  1. Initial results from Wisconsin show he’s good on gun rights, since he was the one who signed shall issue into law.

    I think he’s got a shot if he gets the nomination. There’s nothing particularly polarizing about him, which could be an asset if the Democrats go with a firebrand such as Hillary.

  2. I’m interested in Walker, if for no other reason than he’s a classic “blank slate” on which it’s easy to paint our ideal candidate. I actually hope that he pans out!

    As for the degree thing: I personally have a doctorate, and it doesn’t matter to me that he didn’t graduate college. What matters is that he knows what he’s doing. Indeed, to some extent, I’m glad to see that he has experience *outside* of academia, which can sometimes be bizarrely screwy!

    (I also dislike the notion that you have to have some sort of “sheepskin” to know what you are talking about, as if a piece of paper confers upon you the Knowledge of the Wise, or something…)

  3. Also, I’d be interested in seeing a candidate willing to say “I believe in God, and I believe that evolution is one of the many tools that God used to create this world, and to continue his act of creation.” But I think such an answer would cause heads on both sides of the aisle to explode…

    (Having said that, Rush Limbaugh basically stated that this was his stance on the issue just a few days ago…)

      1. Now that I think about it, it’s also a no-win for Democrats, which is why Obama answers pretty much the same way….

  4. Walker has been in my mind since he fought his first recall election. Deeent all around candidate. Plus he has steel He refused to back down and won

  5. I understand that Walker has been quoted as in favor of amnesty, and that’s not my preference. However, I’d go for another McCain rather than ANY Democrat. (hack, spit)

    1. He’s said things that are pro-immigration. Given that I’m not exactly anti-immigration, he has room to refine his views on this.

      I’m OK with people immigrating to America, as long as they believe in America, and aren’t coming here to become yet another faction begging for more money from the federal trough.

  6. I think Walker was more in favor of border security and then working on integration. Plus the position of a Governor is different than a President. A Governor has to work with the people that are in his state so they are generally for integration and legalization.

  7. They’ve upped the ante against him. They’ve supposedly started harassing his family by protesting outside his parents’ house.

  8. Long as he stays off the “social conservative”, holier than thou route. I don’t need a “pope” candidate running for Prezzie.

  9. An interesting viewpoint:

    But at this moment in American life, there’s no need for questions about evolution. They simply don’t tell you anything you couldn’t learn by asking a direct question about a specific issue.

    Which is to say that when a politician answers a question about evolution, they aren’t defending or rejecting science as much as they’re sending a message: I am one of you, and this is how you know.

  10. Man, the Republicans just can’t wait to get the fail bus rolling. Walker’s my governor and I voted for him, but anyone who wants him to run in 2016 must like the sound of “President Hillary”. The guy’s dumb, shifty and has the charisma of a dried up dog turd. He’ll get his ass handed to him in the general election. Hopefully the Republicans will get smart, but I’m not holding my breath.

    1. The guy’s dumb, shifty and has the charisma of a dried up dog turd.

      That, in one sentence, would describe my discomfort with him. But how was he liked that and managed to win in an otherwise blue state? I mean, he has to be doing something right, doesn’t he?

          1. I mean, judging from history, Nixon had lousy charisma, and he still got elected. Though I’m now recalling that one alt history story where he was cast as a used car salesman

      1. I’m no expert on Wisconsin politics, but I think a couple of things have helped Walker. Once you get out of Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin gets rural, church going, and conservative real quick. Those were people Walker was a natural fit with. Then there seem be folks that would be traditional blue collar Democrats that are sick of the condescending lefty douchbags in Madison and Milwaukee and see Walker as a bulwark against them. In other words, what tips things in Walker’s favor isn’t any great virtue of his, but more a failing of his opponents and Wisconsin’s demographic idiosyncrasies.

  11. I’m completely in agreement about his dog turd charisma! He may also need a running mate who can motivate a little further right & libertarian, maybe Rand Paul, or pull some further right, Hispanic & Black votes away from the D’s, like Dr. Ben Carson.

    What I’m really afraid of is republicans bringing social issues to the front again, which will lose them moderates. If just one candidate would stand up and say, ‘my stance on gay marriag doesn’t matter, I’m here to fix the economy, reduce the size of government, and better foreign relations” he gets my vote.

  12. Very fair analysis, Sebastian. I agree with pretty much all of it.

    My current attitude toward a Walker candidacy is interested and potentially receptive. I feel like we could do a whole lot worse.

  13. As a rural Wisconsinite who is pro gay marriage, pro end prohibition, doesn’t care about immigration if we take apart the welfare state, etc. I have voted for Walker three times. He’s done pretty well at talking to people and has as mentioned beaten the public sector unions (except for police and fire fighters) into a blue mess. I’d like him to follow through on a couple other things he’s mentioned like cut the state income tax rate or get rid of it altogether before he goes to D.C. but if not he’s done some good stuff already.

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