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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

President (Gulp) Walker

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To at least half of Wisconsin voters in last November’s presidential election, the only thing scarier than electing Republican Congressman Paul Ryan as vice president would be electing Republican Gov. Scott Walker as president.

It’s well documented that although Walker was elected in a lower-turnout off-year governor’s race and an even lower-turnout special recall election, in high-turnout presidential election years, Democratic voters have outnumbered Republicans in this state for more than a quarter of a century.

That hasn’t stopped Walker from floating his name as a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate based on his divisive, right-wing triumphs.

In an interview with the website Politico, Walker wouldn’t even commit to serving an entire four-year term if he manages to win re-election as governor in 2014, another lower-turnout election year.

Walker even went out of his way to point out that he ran for Milwaukee County executive during his term as a state representative and then ran for governor in the midst of his term as county executive.

For Wisconsinites aware that Walker spends much of his time out of the state sucking up to big-money, right-wing donors across the country, Walker was merely letting the cat out of the cellophane bag.

Besides, why shouldn’t Walker see himself as a Republican presidential candidate in 2016? Amid the wreckage the far-right tea party has wrought upon the party, the nomination is up for grabs for any Republican, naughty or nice, with visions of presidential sugarplums dancing in his head.

Remember that clown car full of Republican candidates who came tumbling onto television for a series of hilariously unpresidential primary debates?

Halfway-intelligent Republicans knew they were doomed after nominee Mitt Romney, at one time or another, polled lower than such absurd candidates as Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and even crazy-eyed Michele Bachmann.

Interestingly, Milwaukee attorney Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, recommends that in the future Republicans cut the number of primary debates so voters won’t have so many opportunities to see how bad their candidates are.

What those debates demonstrated to America was that the closer Republican candidates were scrutinized, the worse they looked.

That is especially true of potential candidates new to national politics such as Walker, who are not as well known and look much better from a distance.

Among those fizzling Republican frontrunners in 2012, the ones who crashed and burned the most spectacularly were fresh faces Perry and Cain, who seemed intriguing at first until they were caught on camera demonstrating how little they actually knew.

 

Walker’s Job Creation Record Gets Worse

The fact that Walker keeps referring to his economic successes in Wisconsin doesn’t make it true.

In a time, finally, of growing national economic recovery, Walker is presiding over the furthest thing from a “Wisconsin Miracle”—it’s more like a “Wisconsin Debacle.”

According to the latest and most accurate job numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin now has dropped from 42nd to 44th out of the 50 states in job creation.

Guess what. When a governor guts collective bargaining rights in his state to stop public employee unions from protecting the jobs and wages of workers, widespread layoffs and pay cuts do not improve a state’s economy.

One of the biggest challenges a governor faces when he attempts to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate is that he is likely to face real scrutiny from the national press instead of the cheerleading he’s enjoyed from friendly local media.

Issues Walker thought were dead and buried could easily rise from their crypts. In an increasingly complex world, do we really want a president of the United States with only a high school diploma? How could Walker be completely oblivious to criminal activities by six top staff members or close political associates connected with his office?

If Republicans are serious about trying to attract voters they have alienated in the past—women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, young people, everybody but aging, white males—nominating a far-right, tea party candidate such as Walker doesn’t make any sense. But, then, there’s no reason to believe Republicans are really serious about that.

Of course, Walker’s quest for the presidency also depends upon whether he is even re-elected in two years after all the extremely divisive and legally questionable actions he’s taken as governor.

If a fresh, new Democratic candidate focuses on the governor’s miserable jobs record and the total failure of Walker’s right-wing philosophy of cutting Wisconsin’s way to recovery, Walker may not be nearly as strong as Republicans believe.

After their demographic wipeout in November, Republicans, combing the ashes for anything positive, claim to have a deep bench of future candidates among the nation’s governors.

The problem is most of them are vice presidential candidates at best. And as Congressman Ryan demonstrated, the bar for Republican vice presidential candidates is pretty low.

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