Gov. Scott Walker suspended his presidential campaign Monday. Since no one unsuspends his or her campaign, it means that Walker will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.
This, of course, makes Wisconsin’s millions of Walker-haters ecstatic with glee — the people who despise Walker so much that they would dance in the streets like Arabs on 9/11 were Walker assassinated.
As someone who supports politicians only to the extent that they do what I want them to do, whose favorite Bible verse is Psalm 146:3 (look it up), I don’t particularly care about Walker’s exiting the presidential race. He probably shouldn’t have run, as demonstrated by his inability to capitalize on his early popularity.
The optimistic view for Walker fans is that he is repeating what he did in 2006 — leaving the race to others (in 2006’s case, U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Green Bay), whose loss to Gov. James Doyle proves that voters often get the vote wrong in this state) while keeping future options open. If that’s the case, that’s a bet that a Republican won’t win the White House in 2016. Consider what that says about this country when the three name Democrats for president are Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
The optimistic view is what Charlie Sykes says today:
But Walker had made a cold calculation, recognizing that in 2006 his campaign was not ready for prime time. As it turned out, 2006 was an awful year to be Republican and Green was crushed by incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle. Rather than continue an expensive, potentially bloody, and perhaps unwinnable campaign, he withdrew.
Four years later her cruised to the GOP nomination and election in November. He chose to live to fight another day.
Obviously, given the height and speed of his fall from grace in this year’s campaign that formula may not work again. I’ll leave it to others to perform the autopsies on the campaign and speculate on how badly his brand has been damaged.
There is no doubt that the last few months have been a godawful mess, but Walker realized that the next few months were unlikely to get any better. His campaign was burning through cash even as donors faded into the tall grass, but any signs of retrenchment would simply have fed the media death spiral narrative. The poll numbers raised the very real specter that he might have been bumped to the kiddie table in future debates (including one here in Wisconsin in November).
So on Monday, Walker once again cut his losses. He decided a graceful exit was better than limping through the bloody cornstalks of Iowa.
Where does that leave him?
*He gets to return to Wisconsin as a reformer with unfinished business. He still has a bully pulpit for another three years.
*He remains well-known and still popular in GOP/conservative circles, with some of the highest favorables of any candidate.
*He has a SuperPac that is flush with cash.
*He is still only 47 years old.
So don’t bury Scott Walker quite yet.
Readers will recall that I was a skeptic about Walker’s chances of running, let alone his chances of winning, ever since the presidential talk started after the 2014 election. As consequential and important as the Act 10 reforms were, public sector employee benefits and rights are not an issue that seems to interest many voters beyond the state level.
I believe my prediction earlier this decade that no one from Wisconsin will ever be elected president will be correct. (Yes, I wrote “ever,” and given what Barack Obama is doing to this country we may well see the end of this country in our lifetimes.) Wisconsin is a politically inconsequential state, as demonstrated by the last GOP presidential candidate to win this state. (See Reagan, Ronald.)
As with most Wisconsin politicians, Walker lacks TV charisma, and you don’t get elected president unless you look good in 15-second TV soundbites. No one ever gets rich enough in Wisconsin — and by rich I mean Donald Trump-level rich — to run for president. The Evil Koch Brothers’ money isn’t presidential-level money, believe it or not.
The departures of Walker and before him Texas Gov. Rick Perry demonstrate what a traveshamockery getting elected president is. (Independent of the fact that seven years ago Obama wasn’t qualified for a Senate leadership position, let alone president, but don’t let our collapse dissuade you, Dumocrats.) Apparently in order to get the GOP nomination you have to kowtow to Iowa social conservatives, whether or not they have anything to do with your actually being president. (If you’re not from Iowa, why would you choose to spend more time than you had to in Iowa?) Even though Perry and Walker have actually run states, which is much more comparable to being president than blathering in an empty U.S. Senate chamber, apparently that’s not enough real-world experience to get voters interested in you, and they are out before one single vote has been cast.
Truth be told, the current occupant of the White House has so degraded government that I can only conclude that all government sucks, every elective body at every level. If you had met as many politicians as I have, particularly those whose views are contrary to yours, you would have to resist the urge to punch them someplace that would either be very painful or leave permanent marks and ask them in as angry a voice as you possess how dare they presume to tell you what you can and what you can’t do.
Maybe Donald Trump — a reality TV star and moral lowlife who successfully misrepresents his political beliefs in order to get his friend Hillary Clinton elected president — should be the GOP nominee. Joseph de Maistre observed that every nation gets the government it deserves.