Saturday, February 14, 2015

The McLaughlin Group and Scott Walker: Reflection

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

In the latest episode of the McLaughlin Group (2-13-2015), John and Company discussed the stunning rise of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the polls.

Of course, as any respectable news commentary program would do, the guests discussed Walker's near misses, mistakes in conjunction with his meteoric rise. Some of the critiques are commendable, while some of the points were either irrelevant or uninformed.

The second segment of the program started with Walker's stellar speech at the Iowa Freedom Caucus in January. Specifically, Walker was talking about the importance of measure success not by how many people are dependent on the government, but rather by how many have gotten off of government dependence. McLaughlin then launched into critical appraisals of the governor.

John McLaughlin

Governor Walker has been called boring and uncharismatic.

Those charges have an element of truth. He does not inspire audiences with lofty rhetoric. He is a great debater and commentator, however, and he answers questions with a direct savvy on many issues. No, he is not the most charismatic person in the room, yet what he lacks in style he more than makes up for in substance.

But some say he might be well be the next Republican President of the United States. And Republican primary voters are taking positive notice. In fact, Governor brought down the house in Iowa when he hinted at a run for President.

But who is Scott Walker?

He is 47 years old.

He is young, but not juvenile.

He's married to Tonette Walker and has two children.

Today, he's in his second term as governor.

The Governor Argument carries strength with Republican voters. In 2008, the American People had a choice between two US Senators, both of whom had varying and to a degree untrustworthy temperaments.

He attended Milwaukee's Marquette University, but withdrew a year before graduation, taking a sale job with IBM before working for the American Red Cross.

He has both private sector and humanitarian experience. The fact that he does not have a college degree did not inspire any commentary from the McLaughlin Group, which right away confirms that his lack of a post-high school degree is really meaningless, to begin with.

At the age of 25, Mr. Walker was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly. His political career grow over the next twenty years.

He has prior experience as a legislator as well as governor. He also served as the Chief Executive Officer for Milwaukee County.

Today, Governor Walker is best known for his union law reforms. Four years ago, his changes to Wisconsin's  collective bargaining laws  led to a fierce political showdown which culminated in a recall election, that Governor Walker won.

And while these reforms earned the governor the enduring hatred of liberals across the country, he is today leading prospective Republican presidential polls in Iowa, and is surging in New Hampshire, where he'll visit next month

In other sign he is thinking about running for President, Mr. Walker visited London this week to buffer his foreign policy credentials.
Pat Buchanan

This comment is misleading. Walker was on a business trip to improve trade for his state.

Clairvoyance time: what are Governor Walker's chances of winning the GOP nomination?

Eleanor Clift offered 20%. Rogan was a little more optimistic on Walker's behalf, with 35%.

Buchanan offered a more policy-based assessment:

Right now, Walker is in the lead in the bracket of folks who are anti-establishment. He's got his hour right now, and the whole country is looking at him. . .But we are way far out, and they are going to give him a real vetting.

Walker has admitted that his stance on national issues is vague, since he did not have to contend with those issues as  a governor. A Presidential candidate cannot fall back on "I never had to think about that" as a credible answer forever.

Eleanor Clift

Eleanor Clift reminded everyone in the room about Walker's prowess:

He won three elections in a deep blue state by basically going after the unions and the public employees.

On the first part, Clift is spot on. He went after the public sector unions because of the unsustainable entitlements forced upon Wisconsin taxpayers. His Democratic opponent, in 2010 and 2012, relied on those very reforms to balance Milwaukee's budget and save millions of dollars.

The other part of her statement is incredibly wrong and incredulous at the same time. Breaking the inordinate political influence of the public sector unions enjoys widespread bipartisan support. Walker never attacked individual employees, but respected the work and achievement of those workers, including educators named Teacher of the Year. The canard that attacks against Big Labor is an attack on laborers has neither substance nor competence.

Clift then added:

He survived. To win three elections in a blues state as a Red Republican is a significant accomplishment.

To Clift, Walker is a Red Republican. Red meat is actually what this country needs, and even the liberal talking heads recognize that.

Then she shifted to Walker's London trip:

His trip to London, however, showed that he wasn't quite ready for prime time. He was asked a couple of questions, and he kind of dodged. He was asked about evolution, and he said "I'm going to punt on that one, and the audience actually laughed out loud.

Did audience laugh with Walker, or did they laugh at him? Does it really matter? Here's the clip. For the record, US Senator Marco Rubio punted in the same manner when asked about the age of the earth, and nobody cared then.

McLaughlin pooh-poohed Clift's send-up of the Wisconsin Governor, pointing out that those were "teaser" questions, along the lines of the deeply inappropriate question posed to Governor Dukakis in 1988 about his support for the death penalty, if his wife were murdered.

Frankly, Walker gave a  frank and respectable response to an inane question meant strictly to embarrass him.
Tom Rogan

Tom Rogan provided necessary context:

The British Establishment, both right and left, love to hate Republicans.  They think all Republicans are stupid and not well read. They love Hillary Clinton, and the bias in the media is profound.

But. . .

Eleanor has a point in the sense that he was asked about evolution. He should have answered those questions in some way.

Rogan has a point in this concern. If journalists ask foolish or shameful questions to spite or shame a candidate, a ready answer must be provocative and insightful, putting the journalist on the spot. Breitbart's Ben Shapiro did a masterful job of this when he took down Piers Morgan over gun control.

Rogan continued:

If you are trying to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, you don't shrug that off/

The question arises: "What difference does it make?" Then Walker could launch into a litany of present-day concerns, including the multiple deaths of hundreds of thousands throughout the Arab World, then the epic economic stagnation dragging down hard-working families. . "And you want to ask about evolution? Really?"

Rogan's critique was not revelant. Buchanan's next comments were:

He's got to get up to speed very, very fast because he's out front right now. And he did not handle himself well at all. He was callow and young.

Is this true? There was a week's worth of controversy over Governor Christie's trip to London, as well, including his attendance at a soccer match, as well as comments about vaccinations.

Putting aside these asides, McLaughlin listed Walker's latest surge of polling in New Hampshire, seven points ahead of Bush. He could have mentioned Walker's gains in California, too. Buchanan continued:

If Walker can emerge as the conservative choice against the Establishment, he can beat Bush in New Hampshire., but he's going to have some real challenges as the conservative voice.

How true, and Walker is more than battle-tested, as affirmed by liberal Eleanor Clift.

Mort Zuckerman
Mort Zuckerman offered a back-handed compliment of the governor's surging popularity:

I will that he has done better at this stage of his career than many people had even expected, but I  personally do not think he has the slightest chance of winning the Republican  nomination.

Why would Mort say this? A few shows back, he had already predicted that Jeb Bush would be the nominee. For the sake of saving face, he cannot go back on his premature prediction. Zuckerman is a liberal's liberal, an Editor-in-Chief for a news magazine, and like many of his ilk, he has sincere, insulated convictions free from the thoughts and opinions of Middle America, the same voters who decided primary and general election outcomes.

During predictions, Buchanan claimed that Marco Rubio will be the next Scott Walker.  Citing the upswing/downscale support for "Anyone But Romney" in 2012, the conservative national is wrong for the following reasons:

1. Rubio was the face of a massive immigration reform packaging in the US Senate (the 2013 bill), which remains deeply unpopular with conservatives. Rubio backed away from that legislation, but a sense of betrayal on this subject still lingers with conservatives.

2. The Florida Senator has a different sort of resume on federal and state matters. He has already sparred with fellow US Senator Rand Paul, to his own hurt. Walker's reforms as a governor winning three elections in four years outshines potential competitors on many levels.

3. Buchanan has a tendency to see all political matters through the ethnic lens He was convinced that Michelle Nunn would win Georgia 2014. US Senator George Perdue upended Buchanan's prediction without having to face a run-off.

Scott Walker

The McLaughlin Group citied significant issues which Walker must face: be more engaging, and concise in answers. The Marginalized Media will stop at nothing to shame or degrade his candidacy, and Walker needs to bring the same brash tenacity which he harnessed against public sector unions in Wisconsin. Zuckerman's deeply flawed appraisal should gratify Walker supporters, since the US News editor shares the same limited, pro-Establishment sentiments which oppose Walker.

McLaughlin certainly deserves props for discussing Walker's impressive breakout ahead of Jeb Bush and other likely candidates, as well as pushing back against the superficial criticism following his first internationally-published visit to Great Britain.

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