Friday, September 04, 2015

How Fatally Flawed Is The Republican Bench? Let's Look At Wisconsin


Clearly, Trump has crippled Jeb Bush and destroyed Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie, and severely damaged Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker. Walker fans, though, insist, despite his sinking poll numbers in crucial Iowa-next-door and nationally, that he can come back. The new poll Monmouth released yesterday was more terrible news for the hapless Walker. It wasn't just that Trump is slaughtering him by a factor of 10, 30-3%, it was that in a head to head match-up, Trump bests him 53-38%. Worst of all, Walker fell from 11% in August to 3% in September, so he isn't even a second-tier candidate any longer. Even Huckabee and Fiorina are beating now (with 4% each)!

Peter Suderman isn't so sure about that. He thinks Walker's descent into the second or third tier may not be reversible. Once at 17% and in second place (nationally)-- wow, that seems like forever ago-- Walker is now tied for 8th place with Huckabee at 5% and has slid from first place in must-win Iowa all the way down to 5th place.
Why is Scott Walker’s campaign faring so poorly?

One reason is Donald Trump, whose hip-shot populism has arguably done more damage to Walker’s campaign than to any other GOP candidate.

But the other reason is Scott Walker.

Walker is running a pandering, cringe-worthy campaign marked by a consistent inability to clearly articulate, and stick to, his own positions.

After drumming up a ton of attention early in the year by giving passionate speeches about his record as governor of Wisconsin, he’s been unable to sustain his early momentum. Instead, he’s allowed himself to be drawn into a series of news cycle traps, and then handled the aftermath poorly, often by denying that he’d made any misstep in the first place.

Most recently, for example, Walker seemed to suggest that he was open to the possibility of a building a wall along the Canadian border in order to stop illegal immigration. He responded by saying that he’d been asked this question by people in New Hampshire, that the people asking the questions had "very legitimate concerns," and that the idea of building a wall would be "a legitimate issue for us to look at."

It’s not exactly a "damn right we should build a wall!" But Walker’s response clearly takes the idea seriously, and pointedly does not rule it out.

Yesterday, however, he claimed that the talk about it was "just a joke" and that he’s "never talked about a wall at the north."

This is the Walker campaign playbook: Say something awkward or ill-advised, watch as the media swarms to cover it, then insist that there was never anything to see.

...It is difficult, if not impossible, to correctly characterize a candidate’s position on an issue when the candidate himself cannot seem to state it with any clarity.

This sort of flip-flopping, what might generously be called policy confusion, has dogged Walker’s campaign essentially from the moment it began. Back in March, Walker, in what was obviously a sop to Iowa voters, reversed his previously clear opposition to federal ethanol subsidies.

A week later, when asked about the change, he denied that he had flip flopped on the issue. Since then, his position appears to have shifted again, with Walker suggesting to the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney that he supports ending the ethanol mandate after two years.

...Walker started his run as a candidate with a record of accomplishment who would get things done in Washington. He quickly turned into a candidate who couldn't even describe what it is he'd do.

And in the process, he lost what made his campaign take off in the first place. Walker rose to prominence earlier this year not only on the strength of his governing record, but on his ability to clearly and powerfully articulate that record and why it mattered. The natural extension of this, as a candidate, would have been to take the issues that he was already known for at the state level-- public sector union power, budget deficits, state spending and taxes-- and develop them into a coherent national agenda.

Instead, Walker has pandered to Iowa voters, prioritizing issues like immigration and the nuclear deal with Iran that were never core to his appeal, and let his campaign be drawn into the day-to-day absurdities of the Trump circus.

He has not only shifted his policy positions, he has shifted his character-- and in doing so, he has undermined his essential appeal.

Can he get his campaign back on track? He’s certainly going to try: As Bloomberg Politics reports, Walker is out to reboot his campaign by, among other things, attacking rival Jeb Bush for being insufficiently opposed to the Iran deal, despite previously suggesting that he wouldn’t go on the offensive against his Republican rivals. In other words, he’s going to shift his character again.
Maybe it's just a Wisconsin Republican thing! After all, embattled (like in losing) Senator Ron Johnson doesn't have Trump attacking him at all and he's suffering as much as Walker from foot-in-mouth disease. Straight from his ill-received remarks about how there should be no minimum wage at all-- the man is a fanatic, unrepentant Ayn Rand ideologue-- Johnson seemed to go on the warpath against single mothers this week, joking about what caused an increase in out-of-wedlock births in his state. 

Melissa Baldauff, communications director of the state Democratic Party, responded:
The only joke here is Senator Ron Johnson, who has made a habit of insulting all Wisconsin mothers with his dangerous policies and offensive beliefs, but especially those who raise, educate and provide for their children on their own. Senator Johnson's ridicule of Wisconsin women clearly informs his policy beliefs-- his opposition to equal pay for equal work, his desire to let health insurance companies charge women more than men, and his willingness to let his allies shutdown the government over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Moms in Wisconsin deserve support and respect from our elected officials, not jokes at our expense from a politician trying to score cheap points with extreme conservatives.
Ron Johnson himself is a joke, which is why he's generally considered the sitting senator most likely to lose his seat in 2016. He seems to take great pleasure in referring toSocial Security as a "legal Ponzi scheme." He he was totally into the GOP attempt to hand Social Security over to Wall Street, wistfully saying, "Well, George Bush tried to do that and remember I said he got slaughtered politically. It went nowhere, which I thought was a shame."

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At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is there to say about Walker? Perhaps he got up on a stage that was too big for him.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Nixie said...

He is a pol who almost begs to be dismissed and/or disliked. Policies shift with the sand.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He always comes across to me like a guy who had a really difficult time finding a date for the prom.

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walker is a dolt. This is not a criticism; rather an observation.

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dolt" and "vicious, destructive, nihilist bastard" are, apparently, not mutually exclusive.

John Puma

At 10:18 PM, Blogger Eric Fisher said...

I did like Walker but that flip flop on corn ethanol did end it for me.


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