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The case for Scott Walker

Welcome back MinnPost readers. Happy post-Thanksgiving wishes. I, by the way, am thankful for you and for MinnPost for bringing us together. 

Writing for The New Republic, Nate Cohn makes the case for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a likely 2016 nominee, based mostly on two ideas. 1. Walker’s appeal cuts across several of the Republican factions and 2. Walker will play well in Iowa.

Count me unconvinced, on one count and curmudgeonly on the other. Cohn should at least have alluded to fairly powerful evidence, recently summarized by Larry Jacobs, that Walkerism isn’t working Wisconsin. (Of course for that to matter, one would have to believe that measureable success was important.)

On point two, I have no particular belief about Walker’s likely success in the Iowa caucuses. Read the Cohn piece for that argument, although it includes the fact that Wisconsin (like Minnesota) borders on Iowa. But curmudgeonliness makes me want to ask, more and more often as the years go by, why the rest of the country accepts the absurd primacy of Iowa (and New Hampshire, for similar purely calendarological reasons) in winnowing the field of presidential candidates.

It isn’t in the Constitution that two small states should outrank the other 48. It doesn’t even have a long history. (Jimmy Carter in 1976 was pretty much the first candidate to win a nomination by practically moving to Iowa.) Curmudgeon says this magic power should move around the country a bit more and hopes that every time you see a piece acting as if Iowa appeal is the key to the White House you will ask yourself why this should be.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/02/2013 - 12:26 pm.


    Well, we can ask Bachmann and Pawlenty how well Iowa worked out for them.

    My guess is the state gets a lot of attention simply because it’s the first on the list, not because it’s a a bellwether for the rest of the nation. The news media follows the candidates because they’re looking for someone to screw up. And that, in turn, gets people to frequent their paper, blog, or web site.

    Drama sells. Whether or not it’s healthy for the nation or even correct information is irrelevant. A factual reasoned approach to news is detrimental to sales as that’s considered boring and it costs too much to check facts. It’s simply cheaper to repeat what the candidate says and then get a couple of talking heads in to argue about what it all means.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/02/2013 - 01:17 pm.

    The thinking is

    that the republicans will nominate someone from the governors’ ranks. At least amongst republicans, the argument has been to nominate a candidate with executive leadership skills and experience. Someone who has balanced a budget. Someone who has been a state-level commander-in-chief, someone who has demonstrated their ability to work with members of both parties to pass creative legislation. Someone with a record of holding down spending and taxes.

    That means Walker, Perry, Christie, Jindal, Fallin, et al.

    Recent elections have shown, however, that none of those attributes matter to the people who decide who will be president. Better to ignore accomplishments and go with the photogenic personality, race or gender preferred by the forces in the popular media.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/02/2013 - 03:28 pm.

      Ignoring accomplishments

      What has Scott Walker accomplished in Wisconsin? Run roughshod over the state’s tradition of progressive government, turned some less-favored public employee unions into cannon fodder for his Koch-inspired class warfare, and turned extractive industries loose on the countryside. The only way Governor Walker has a chance of becoming President is if people ignore his accomplishments.

      The others, you say? Governor Jindal? Using state money to fund theocratic charter schools that push all manner of nonsense on children? Some accomplishment.

      Governor Christie? Have you forgiven his apostasy after Hurricane Sandy?

      Governor Perry? Really, Mr. Tester, do you read your own posts? His campaign got no traction even in the sanity-deficient Republican primary field of 2012.

      You’re going to have to face the fact that voters often–albeit not invariably–make their choices based on policy. There are many Republicans who have foisted Presidents on us based on a “photogenic personality [how do you photograph a personality? But I digress].” Think of Bush fils, or think of Saint Gipper himself, for that matter. Are you going to put them down to low-information voters, too?

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/02/2013 - 04:16 pm.

        Compared to whom?

        What were Obama’s credentials prior to running for president? In 2016, we’ll be asking what Hillary’s accomplishments were as well.

        Apparently, only republicans must produce real, measureable accomplishments in addition to actual executive experience.

        • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 12/03/2013 - 07:08 am.


          “In 2016, we’ll be asking what Hillary’s accomplishments were as well.”

          You mean besides being Secretary of State, a Senator, and living in the White House for 8 years. She is clearly out of her league when compared to the Republican potentials – what with all those stellar credentials brought by the likes of Palin et al. I mean how do you compare against someone who has an (undergrad) degree in sports journalism, one that took 6 different schools to complete.

          • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/03/2013 - 08:42 am.

            Those aren’t accomplishments

            Those are job titles she held. Evan Sarah Palin had more actual experience and real governmental accomplishments (leading the national guard, negotiating oil leases that resulted in direct citizen royalties from the oil companies, for example.) than did Barack Obama.

            I guess in the democrat world, just being there with the job title is all that matters. Which makes sense, given that most of them work for the government.

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/03/2013 - 09:14 am.

              Was Evan Palin

              her husband?
              The one who actually ran Alaska?

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/03/2013 - 09:15 am.

              Sarah Palin

              Are you serious? Her signature legacy–the tax on oil companies–is something Republicans in Alaska are striving mightily to undo.

              I think you are also reading far too much into her titular role as head of the Alaska National Guard. What, exactly, did she do in that regard?

            • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 12/05/2013 - 07:59 pm.

              The direct oil royalty payments

              to Alaska residents occurred long before Sarah Palin’s governorship.

              Back when I lived in Oregon (1984-1993), one of the annual dust-ups over taxes resulted in a former Alaska resident writing to the local paper to say that she didn’t understand why Oregon needed so many taxes, since in Alaska, the state paid the residents.

              That’s right. She didn’t seem to be aware of where the money came from.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 12/03/2013 - 08:28 am.

      O’ Boy

      The words leadership and accomplishments don’t fit in any sentence that have the word Republican in it. We all know what George W. Bush accomplished. I guess he did exhibit some leadership by having the entire party follow him on his dastardly journey. What has John Boehner and the House accomplished? Nothing! What has Bachmann accomplished? Nothing! Who leads the Republican Party? No one! Republicans can’t even lead their own party much less the country. The only answer to everything can’t be no and call it leadership. I understand the “No” stance they take because when you don’t know who is leading or where you are going “No” is the only answer they can have to protect themselves. Boehner keeps talking about doing the work that America wants, but Republicans keep losing elections, so I guess Boehner’s assumption isn’t correct. Of the list of characters you like there are no accomplishments. Christie is the only one who shows any sort of common sense. He will driven out as not being conservative enough. It is going to be a long lonely road home for the Republicans because they can’t face the reality of where their party is at.

  3. Submitted by Matt Bowers on 12/02/2013 - 02:48 pm.


    Three of our last five presidents have been governors. George Bush was the last governor to become president and his administration was an unmitigated disaster whose blunders will continue to cost us for years to come. Having experience as a governor does not guarantee a successful presidency.

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/02/2013 - 02:50 pm.

    It’s a long way from Iowa to the election

    At least Pawlenty had a superficially good record to run on. I would think Walker’s name would be poison to anyone not associated with the tea party which would include independents and anyone literate enough to know how poorly Wisconsin is doing under Walker.

    Iowa is important to reporters who treat the election like a race reporting on who’s winning and each fluctuation in the standings. How many front runners did the Republicans go through in the last cycle before they settled on the one guy with a chance of getting the moderate vote before he put his foot in his mouth.

    I’m looking forward to Walker being shown for the vindictive small timer that he is.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/02/2013 - 03:10 pm.

    Walker is working

    for Wisconsinites who value low taxes, low wages and poor education over everything else. We’ll see how well this continues to play in WI as that truth settles in.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/02/2013 - 03:43 pm.

    Of those listed

    …by Mr. Tester, only Mr. Christie has proved himself to be a capable governor.

    More remarkable, perhaps, is the power he grants to the media — as well as the apparent lack of even minimal intelligence on the part of voters — when choosing a president. I wouldn’t argue that the media has no influence, but for the most part, voters here and elsewhere appear quite capable of making up their own minds, and while it would be silly to argue that a candidate’s media presence and appearance (read: gaffes) don’t play a part in that, I’ve seen no evidence that the majority of voters merely follow, in lock-step, whatever perception is being fed to them by the media, whether left or right.

    The argument that the public is the dupe of the media goes back to the dawn of the republic.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/02/2013 - 08:09 pm.

      And like Walker

      There’s some question as to whether Christie will get away with kicking the fiscal can down the road for another two years.

  7. Submitted by Ken Wedding on 12/02/2013 - 05:43 pm.

    Last week, Walker’s campaign sent an email encouraging supporters not to buy gifts for their children and to use that money instead to support his reelection effort.

    “Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season, help give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of,”

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/03/2013 - 06:04 pm.

      Simple political calculus

      Kids can’t vote, after all…

      It does rather sum up the mindset of today’s GOP, the Party of No, doesn’t it?

  8. Submitted by Thomas Eckhardt on 12/03/2013 - 05:56 pm.


    Walkerism may not be working in Wisconsin, but he is making quite a reputation for himself as a liar. Talked to my son in Madison and he filled me in on a few. Walker said he left college to support his family, but he got married 2 years after he left college and it was another year before the first kid. Claims he had to increase his and his family’s security after an attack by liberals on his car, but there are no news stories or police reports to substantiate the attack. Check his new book.

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