Sunday, September 27, 2015

A recap of the Walker 2016 implosion

Now that it's been a few days since Scott Walker became Gov Dropout again and quit the 2016 presidential campaign, let's go back and take a look at how this surprising development came to be.

First, here's Stephen Colbert, with an outstanding "Hunger Games Tribute" to the fallen governor, and a reminder of the self-absorption and idiocy that became a trademark of Walker's presidential campaign.

Walker's withdrawal also led to a lot of "what went wrong" articles that were quite entertaining, as it's always fun to see politicos and writers be able to take off the mask and tell you the real truth about someone. The first one I want to point you to was written by the Washington Post's Jenna Johnson, who followed the Walker campaign for the last several months. Johnson's article is titled "9 things I learned about Scott Walker on the campaign trail - and why they mattered," and it has the type of in-depth honesty about Walker's vapidness and hubris that helped to sink Walker's candidacy that you don't see here in Wisconsin.

In addition to mentioning that Walker could never say why he wanted to be president, and seemed to make up his central arguments as he went along (outside of union-busting), here are two of my favorites from Johnson in this article- both of which involve a routine that the Wisconsin media allowed to pass without challenging in 2014, and one which failed miserably in the rest of America in 2015 once it was.
3) For an everyman candidate, his campaign events were often elaborately staged.
In late July, Walker held a town hall at a family-style restaurant in Red Oak, a town with fewer than 6,000 residents in western Iowa. An advance team with a moving van of equipment arrived hours early to hang up flags, set up a sound system and arrange a stage with tiered seating to provide a backdrop of Iowans. Walker arrived with a large entourage: his security detail, campaign manager, personal aide, full-time campaign photographer, two Iowa-based staffers and a horde of low-level employees who handed out brochures. As he spoke for roughly an hour, one man on the stage had to shield his eyes from a bright spotlight.

That's the level of staging that Walker enjoyed during nearly every campaign stop during his first month on the trail — which worried some supporters, who considered the elaborate set-ups a waste of money so early in the campaign. These glitzy events seemed more suited to a candidate who had already locked down the nomination, but they matched Walker's forceful confidence — he truly considered himself a front-runner who could win over most voters in most states....

5) Walker knows how to stay on message — but seems lost when questions keep coming.
Early in the campaign, Walker and his backers would brag about his ability to relentlessly stay on message: He again and again repeated the same campaign speech. He gave reporters the same answers to questions about issues of the day. He memorized his announcement speech and recited it. This often left him sounding robotic and not fully answering the questions he was asked.

But when reporters and cable news show hosts pushed for specifics, Walker would often slip up, making comments that didn't quite make sense or taking stances he didn't mean to take — but then hesitating to take a different position or admit that he had misspoken, perhaps for fear of cementing an image of being a flip-flopper. Instead, he appeared to lack clear stances on a number of issues, including birthright citizenship and the U.S. response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Several supporters exploded with frustration when Walker called building a wall along the Canadian border a "legitimate" idea — and then waited more than a day to make clear that he did not actually want to construct a wall along the 5,252-mile northern border.

Lastly, there were also the shots fired within the Walker campaign. Check out this article in Politico, which not only mentions the Monday morning meeting with Walker's inner circle of Milwaukee cronies (including UW System VP Jim Villa, whose sketchy story I mentioned on Thursday), but also features an in-depth interview Walker campaign manager Rick Wiley, who indicates that things were even more of a pathetic shitshow than what was apparent to all of those who jumped off the Walker bandwagon. It also reiterates that Gov Dropout clearly was not ready for the prime time of a presidential campaign, nor could he handle the media accountability that didn't exist in Wisconsin.
Prior to the governor's abrupt exit from the Republican race, his campaign had a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan at the ready: Campaign manager Rick Wiley, in a half-hour phone interview with POLITICO on Tuesday night, said he had an “all-in Iowa” plan that would have moved the headquarters from Madison, Wisconsin, to Des Moines and cut the staff from about 85 to 20 as of Thursday. But Walker, floundering in debates and on the stump, was facing such a sudden drought in donations that even those drastic moves wouldn’t have guaranteed solvency.

“We built the machine that we needed to get a governor in just phenomenal shape to take a stage in a presidential debate,” Wiley said. “I think sometimes it's lost on people the largeness of the job. I think people just look at it and say, ‘Wow! Yeah, you know, it's like he's a governor and he was in a recall’ and blah, blah, blah — he’s ready.

“It's just not like that. It is really, really difficult. ... I'm just saying, you know, like it's a f---ing bitch, man. It really is."
And as with most things in WalkerWorld, the ultimate reason to pull the plug on the campaign didn't come necessarily because Walker fell in support to 0.5% of the voters. It was because Walker's puppetmasters were also bailing on Scotty, especially after his buffoonery could not be covered up any longer.
The problems snowballed, all self-inflicted. “The week after the debate, our events fell a little bit flat,” Wiley said. “And so then we roll into the Iowa State Fair, and the ‘birthright citizenship’ [gaffe] came up. And that was another one where the donors were like, ‘What's going on over there?’”

After five weeks, it was clear: Madison, we have a problem. “It culminated with a trip through Texas, the three days leading up to Labor Day weekend, where ... we're supposed to raise half a mil and we brought in $184K,” Wiley said. “That, coupled with we were in the mail with [a] mailing to our donors, and that was the first time that [an internal] file had lost money. ... So, at that point, we can say, ‘OK, we have a huge revenue problem.’”
Huh, overspending and not enough revenues coming in? Sounds like every one of Scotty's many other fiscal issues, both in his job and in his everyday life.

So Scott Walker's now back here in Wisconsin, pretending to actually do the job the taxpayers shell out 6 figures for him to do, but more likely trying to get a couple of last grabs of money and power for his paymasters before quitting as Governor to grab some "real money" as a lobbyist or rubber-chicken speaker on the wingnut welfare circuit. And the lessons of Walker's faceplant on the national stage should ring loud and clear back here in Wisconsin, as all of these flaws were evident before he entered the presidential race, but they were never hammered on with enough consistency by the state's Democrats, and were never followed up on by the paid-off state media.

This sheltered existence Walker got away with in Wisconsin must change and we must do our part to make it change (because the oligarchs and connected inner circle won't fix this mess on their own - they're making too much money in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan). If we do it right, and do remove these cancers that are wasting our state away, it could lead to the major changes in Wisconsin's political landscape in 2016 and 2018. And that might just save this state, and start to restore its reputation as a place that used to attract talent and maintain a high quality of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment