Political Animal


March 16, 2013 11:16 AM Scott Walker dreams the dream, says he’s “open” to a White House run in 2016

By Kathleen Geier

Oh joy! Politico is reporting that Wisconsin governor and enemy of working people everywhere Scott Walker is sending strong signals that he will be candidate for president in 2016. Politico says that Walker, who spoke at CPAC this morning, “acknowledged in an interview Friday that he’s open to a presidential bid and pointedly declined to pledge to serve a full four-year term if he’s reelected next year.”

It’s hard to see what, exactly, ol’ Scottie boy would bring to the table. First, he’s a white dude. Second, his speech at CPAC is exactly the same old same old:

The governor’s 15-minute speech focused on his efforts to end what he called a culture of government dependency, such as requiring able-bodied adults to look for work or enroll in job training in order to receive food stamps.

Now there’s a fresh, bold idea! Ironically, of course, such requirements would probably end up costing the taxpayers more money than just leaving things the way they are.

Absent the (extremely unlikely) event of the Democrats nominating a catastrophically bad candidate in 2016, or the (somewhat less unlikely, albeit still extremely improbable) event of the economy taking a nosedive into Great Depression territory, it’s hard to imagine that someone having as little to offer as Scott Walker could be elected president in 2016. And yet, at this point, it’s hard to imagine the Republican party nominating anyone who has much appeal beyond the far right, old white guy base. I mean, holy good night! Just look at the names on the CPAC straw poll of presidential candidates: Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry (!), Rick Santorum (!!), Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie (who btw is a wingnut in moderate clothing — he’s still an opponent of choice and gay marriage, and he turned down stimulus funds). If I were a Republican, I’d be stocking up the cyanide.

I often wonder: how many elections will the Republicans have to lose before they change? What will have to happen, to make the current incarnation of the party, at long last, deader than disco?

Sometimes I dream of the day the Republicans might have a Hartford Convention moment. Do you know about the Hartford Convention? It was a spectacularly ill-timed event that took place in end of 1814 through the beginning of 1815, and it ended up more or less wiping out the Federalist party as a major force in American politics, practically overnight.

At the time, the Federalists was one of the two major parties in American politics (the Democrats was the other one). The Federalists opposed the War of 1812 and met in Hartford, in part, to discuss their opposition to that war. They passed a number of anti-war resolutions, but unknown to them, Andrew Jackson had already handed the Brits’ derrieres to them in the Battle of New Orleans, effectively ending the war (news was verrrrry slow in getting around in those days). When news of Jackson’s victory finally did become well-known, the Federalists, due to their actions at Hartford, were utterly disgraced, and widely held in contempt by the rest of the country. It pretty much happened overnight, too. They kicked around for a little while on the regional level, but mostly they were through. The Democratic Party remained dominant for many years after that. And though the Whigs were a force for a while, it wasn’t until the Civil War period Republicans that the Democrats were again opposed by a strong national party.

If the Republican party was to die, I doubt that the not-the-Democrats party that would replace it would be much of my cup of tea. But it might be a little less antediluvian on either social or economic matters. If that were the case, it would be most welcome. Halfway between the Democrats and Dwight Eisenhower is far preferable than halfway between the Democrats and Paul Ryan. It might open some space for some decent things to happen in this country.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • c u n d gulag on March 16, 2013 12:48 PM:

    If the current CPAC is any indication, they've learned nothing from last years election, and are simply hoping for a 2010 redux.

    And so there's no reaason why a nebbish, who's basically a well-paid unprincipled Whoreporatist, like Scott Walker, can't be their nominee.

    Plus, he's got the whole, "Conservatives as victims" thingee, down to a t!

    Someone like Christie might worry me in '16. But he has no chance, since he didn't spit in that KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistAtheistMuslim Usurper's eye, and tell him to take his Socialist government money, and go feck himself, when he had the opportunity!

    If he'd have done that, he'd have practically been a shoe-in - but Christie, who's pretty much a doctrinaire Republican on everything except race, religion, and ethnic origin, decided it was more important to act responsibly towards the state he governed, instead of positioning himself for a Presidential run.

    That, and he wanted to get reelected.
    Thankfully, the idiot's in the Red States and CPAC don't realize what a Republican Governor has to do to get elected and reelected in a solidly Blue state, so, he's got pretty much no chance, unless things change dramatically in '14, like a Democratic tidal wave.

    And still, if Hillary runs, she'd kick his area-code sized ass.

  • Ronal on March 16, 2013 1:05 PM:

    Well said.
    However,the Republicans are in such a state of denial right now that it is practically psychopathic in nature.

    All we hear out of analysts, even at CPAC, is that the republican party has to change...and what gets the biggest cheers and most attention are those who are screaming 'no!'

    Everything in politics is catching up and going by them and they don't even notice. Society is changing dramatically. The way ideas are communicated has changed dramatically. Demographics are turning and may have been a big part of the Republican defeat in November.

    Exhaustion will catch up...moderates on the right are now growing weary of what those of us on the left have been tired of for years- the constant never ending fear mongering and playing the 'victim' card every time there is the slightest of offense. It sounded childish when Bush did it, it sounded even worse coming out of Romney's mouth, and it is even more pathetic now at the speeches of CPAC.

  • Joe Friday on March 16, 2013 1:29 PM:

    It's the classic Catch-22.

    They know the only way they can expand their vote is to abandon their toxic ideological positions, yet they steadfastly refuse to abandon their toxic ideological positions.

    Isn't this the kind of behavior we usually send people to ReHab for ?

  • Comrade Carter on March 16, 2013 1:43 PM:

    Is he going to get a "normal" college degree (he was "let go" by Marquette University before his graduation) before he runs? Or will he get a degree from Liberty University or some other joint?

    This is great!

    I live in his city (Wauwatosa), he'll lose this place too.

  • fostert on March 16, 2013 1:49 PM:

    Scott Walker has a much better chance of becoming the Republican nominee for president than winning reelection as governor. His chances of becoming president? Close to zero. The electorate will be younger and more brown in 2016, while the Republicans are moving the other way. And I can't see any chance of them improving their position with women.

  • PeakVT on March 16, 2013 1:52 PM:

    Why is what Walker might do in 20-fvcking-16 worth mentioning? I expect moronic horserace journalism from Politiho, but why encourage it with a link and a several hundred word blog post? It's bad for the country for anyone to be talking about this now.

  • mudwall jackson on March 16, 2013 2:29 PM:

    my guess is that a high percentage of the people receiving food stamps already are working or receiving job training. walker should know this as governor but hey, who cares what the truth is when you're speaking to the fools who attend cpac. you can never underestimate of the prejudices of the far right.

    but really, who cares what scott walker thinks is a great innovative idea, because the only place he's going is out of office.

    for the record the battle of new orleans was fought after the war of 1812 officially ended. that's how slow news traveled back then. andy jackson's victory merely added an exclamation mark to the end of the war

  • Renai on March 16, 2013 2:32 PM:

    Walker/Rubio 2016

    So we can become a low-wage, no-benefit Right-to-Work nation with all the wealth concentrated in Walker's tax bracket?

    And we say they don't have any plans.

    There are so many genius masterminds in the GOP, the only way they can differentiate themselves one GOPerhero from another is an ever increasing level of demonstrated malevolence.

  • emjayay on March 16, 2013 2:44 PM:

    Chris Christie has been governor since 2010. In some ways he's obviously not a carefully scripted boilerplate spouting politician like Boehner and McConnell and obviously there is appeal to a lot of people in that. He also turns into a complete publicly abusive jerk when opposed in any way. Plus something is seriously wrong with a guy particularly in the public eye who eats enough to maintain a weight about double what it would be if he was skinny. I'm not sure exactly how, but these aspects are somehow closely related. Any armchair psychologists out there?

  • jjm on March 16, 2013 3:07 PM:

    Hmm. He looks too much like the young fascists in 1930s Europe. Same haircut. Same sniveling look.

  • abc on March 16, 2013 3:51 PM:

    All I can say is God bless CPAC for snubbing Republican governors like Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie, and getting the wingnuts together to embarrass themselves in front of the media, just in case the general public forgets what they stand for. They are the best ammunition the Democratic Party has. Warmed over welfare reform ("hey, lets re-pass everything Clinton signed into law in 1996") might make the attendees feel good but won't do anything for Republican electoral prospects.

  • Patrick Star on March 16, 2013 4:56 PM:

    What Ronal said above. These guys are moving beyond delusional into borderline psychopathy. Scott Walker for President? Of what, exactly? Of course, don't forget, he's got his rich uncles, the Koch's, ready to shovel Brink's trucks full of cash into his election coffers, to carpet-bomb and pollute the public airwaves, and a submissive, sympathetic Corporate Media more than happy to carry the Message far and wide.

  • fostert on March 16, 2013 5:00 PM:

    Chris Christie can't run for president. It takes much more physical fitness than he has. He'd need a personal cardiologist with him at all times and there's no cardiologist who'd take that job. Christie would actually die running for president, and he knows it. He won't try.

  • rrk1 on March 16, 2013 5:06 PM:

    Forget horse race 2016. That's total nonsense at this point, no matter who it's about.

    It's the lesson of 2012 that needs more attention. There are those who still claim elections make a difference. 2012 proved otherwise. The Rethugs have learned nothing, and don't care. Why? I give you 'Citizens' United' as most of the answer. What little vitality was left in our democracy was sucked out by the reactionary members of SCOTUS in their blatant attempt to prevent Obama from getting reelected. By winning Obama did show the limitations of vast amounts of money. This time. But tactics will change. Rethugs expect a rerun of 2010 if they stick to their 'principles', and reduce the voting pool to only their party faithful.

    You can count on the Rethug state legislatures to make it happen.

  • dweb on March 16, 2013 5:20 PM:

    Well if Scottie becomes Prez, he can point to the great job opportunities working in his state's new iron mines......and with that, more great work cleaning up the mess those mines are going to create after he is gone.

    Hard to believe that Wisconsin was once the home of progressive politics.

  • N.Wells on March 16, 2013 5:55 PM:

    So, let's consider the sorts of things that might cause (or ought to cause) a party to become instantly discredited:

    Lying to get us into a completely unnecessary war;

    Vastly enlarging the debt and the deficit through financial and governmental malpractice on the order of Bush's tax cuts and sweetheart deals with the drug companies.

    Stealing a national election.

    Instituting torture as US policy.

    Unparalleled violations of habeas corpus and privacy standards.

    Trashing the credit of the US through pointless political grandstanding.

    Filling a congress with one of the worst collections of fools and knaves, resulting in one of the lowest-ever records of accomplishment for a congressional session.

    Unparalleled denial of facts, science, economics, and reason.

    Unlimited hypocrisy, to the extent of denying all their previous positions just because an opponent agreed with them.

    Massive attempts to curtail the power and rights of individual voters, workers, and middle & lower-class citizens.

    How's that working out so far? What else could they do that might finally horrify voters enough to vote them into their well-deserved extinction?

  • Rick B on March 16, 2013 7:06 PM:

    The constant among conservative politicians is that anyone who can promise the panicky social and money republicans t stop social change and protect them will be handed money by the wealthy like the Koch brothers or top corporate executives. The politicians who lose will be replaced by the new radical like Ted Cruz.

    Failed Republicans will be replaced by the new Reagan or Cruz. The money and infra structure is there, and CPAC is the politician's showcase to see who should get the funding.

    There will be no change as long as new Ted Cruz or Breightbart or James O'Keefe can be found and paid to function. That's what the farm team like the Young Republicans is for.

    Paralysis of government is what is being selected for, not successful governance. ANY MESSAGE that paralyzes government is winning and holds the conservatives together.

    Lies work as well or better than the truth. A war is better than peace. It's a propagandist's paradise. Don't expect the Republicans to fold up the tent and go home while the money is flowing.

  • John B. on March 16, 2013 8:49 PM:

    There are major ideological differences, of course, but in terms of electoral strength today's Republican Party looks astonishingly like the Whig Party of old. Strong in a clump of states, unable to win a national election. That became for the Whigs a prescription for its demise as a national party even before 1858.

    Interestingly, the congressional fights in the 1830's and '40s over the national bank, tariffs, and internal improvements ("whole hog" Jacksonians opposed all three) led to political paralysis in Congress not unlike what we're seeing today. The thin Whig majority in the Senate even passed an unprecedented "censure" resolution condemning the president.

    If the past is prologue, I do not see a resolution of our own political stalemate any sooner than it was resolved in 1858-1860 by the national crisis over slavery. One glimpse at the CPAC crowd (and remembering GOP governors who have called for as much) it's not so fanciful to foresee that thirty years down the road the nation will again be put through a secession crisis.

    They can have the South and Utah as far as I'm concerned.

  • mb on March 16, 2013 10:01 PM:

    I think we should all agree to allow the GOP to run 3 guys on their ticket instead of just 2. I also want them to have many, many, many primary debates with lots of live and loveable conservative audiences. I think, when it comes to the GOP, more is always better. You just can't get enough of 'em.

  • Bitter and Deluded Lurker on March 16, 2013 10:50 PM:

    Wisconsin's political landscape has been mixed for some time. While they had the Lafollettes, they also had McCarthy. Now they've got Walker, but they also have Senator Tammy Baldwin. Madison, Milwaukee and some other areas tend to vote for Democrats, but there are some highly conservative areas (like the Fox Valley).

  • James M on March 16, 2013 11:16 PM:

    Funny thing is the GOP strategy is actually logical in a way. Moving aggressively to gain a larger share of a declining market/industry is a little used but often highly profitable business strategy. You have a certain amount of monopoly power given that competitors tend not to fight to enter declining markets. This allows you to charge higher prices. You can also save money on R&D because there is no need to develop new products.

    Based on the above paradigm, I think there is a good chance that the GOP will actually become more extreme as time goes on. As the older white male vote shrinks the GOP will have to get an increasingly large share of it to remain viable. They might even have a long shot chance of regaining the presidency in 2024(?). Assuming that 'Hillary' wins, there will probably be a backlash regarding the 16 years of unbroken Democratic control of the White House. If the GOP can field an attractive candidate who knows how to keep his (It will be a manů) mouth shut concerning social issues, he might have a good chance to win.

  • Rick B on March 17, 2013 12:42 AM:

    @John B. 8:49 PM

    I agree with you in your comparison to the Whigs. That smashed against the requirement of slave states to continually become more extreme in their demands until the Civil War was inevitable.

    The predominantly agricultural states are in the position of the slave states of yore. But the U.S. population is moving off the farm so that rural communities are drying up. The suburbs those people moved to when they got urban jobs were a half-way to urban respite, but the older suburbs around the large cities have the same problems and solutions the cities have had. That's why conservatives remain white and aging. No one is replacing them since agricultural economies are losing population.

    Texas, for one, is on knife edge. 50 years ago it was largely agricultural and oil dominated. Now it is highly diverse, largely urban, and moving from the agricultural hellfire-and-brimstone evangelical religion to modern moderate religion and culture that demands mass education and diverse moderate modern religions. 2018 will see a Democratic Texas, and I don't count it out in 2014 if the political effectiveness of outside money can be minimized.

    It's that looming threat of the urban modern culture taking over that gets the conservatives really frightened. With that fear we get the irrational fanaticism we have seen this week at CPAC.

    Then getting the Federalist Society stooges out of the judiciary is going to be a generation-long project.

    We continue to live in interesting times of the type Chinese historians warned people of.