Scott Walker: not ready for primetime

On paper, Scott Walker looks great.  Elected multiple times from the blue state of Wisconsin.  Definitely governs from the right, yet has a milquetoast personality, and not that of a culture warrior (despite being one).  Sounds perfect for winning the Republican nomination.  Yet, somehow, despite all that success it seems that he’s not actually all that good a politician.  The evidence keeps mounting.

Sure, when everything you say is public record, pretty much all politicians says stupid things, but there are degrees.  And Scott Walker on our China policy is almost Palin-esque in it’s stupidity.  Yglesias:

Walker calls on President Obama to cancel an upcoming state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping — as punishment for, among other things, the fact that Chinese GDP growth is slowing down. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here’s the full statement:

Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today’s markets driven in part by China’s slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy. Rather than honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping with an official state visit next month, President Obama should focus on holding China accountable over its increasing attempts to undermine US interests.

Given China’s massive cyberattacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to cancel the state visit. There’s serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance. We need to see some backbone from President Obama in the US-China relationship.

In a nutshell, Walker’s three-step plan for fixing the US-China relationship seems to be:

  1. Cancel Xi’s state visit.
  2. Do unspecified “serious work.” Make sure not to hold any formal meetings with Chinese leaders, as that is not serious.
  3. China stops manipulating its currency, threatening its neighbors in the South China Sea, and persecuting dissidents. The Chinese stock market soars, and economic growth heats up. America wins.

Walker is trying to engage in a little Trump-style China bashing and show that, like any good neoconservative, he isn’t afraid of standing up to dictators. But his plan doesn’t make any sense, and leaves him looking a bit ridiculous. Powerful countries like China aren’t going to change their policies because an American president snubs them.


Jamelle Bouie had a nice piece recently, too, looking at the broader flailing of Walker’s campaign and how he seems to be being hurt by Trump:

As for Walker? Trump has him shook. On birthright citizenship, the Wisconsin governor has had three different answers. At the Iowa State Fair, he told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt that he wanted to curb the practice. “To me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we’re going to enforce the laws in this country,” he said. The following Friday he told CNBC that he wouldn’t take a stance on the issue. And this past Sunday, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he doesn’t want to repeal or alter the provision at all. It’s clear, at this point, that he just doesn’t know what to say…

But even without Trump, it’s not clear that Walker could sail the rocky waters of a presidential campaign. At the GOP debate, for instance, he gave an answer on abortion that—if he’s the nominee—could come back to haunt him…That dodge—and the implication, to some ears, that he would let the mother die—is fertile ground for any Democrat who wants to use it…

But right now Walker looks like he’s on the wane. He’s not quite Tim Pawlenty—the doomed Minnesota governor who quit the 2012 Republican primary after poor showings in polls and onstage—but he’s coming uncomfortably close.

Yep.  There’s an Invisible Primary going on right now and Walker is definitely not faring well.  Personally, I’ll take it because as a Democrat, Walker actually scares me.  I think he’s just as nuts as somebody like Cruz, but far more palatable to a general election electorate.  Also, I actually do think he is none too bright– a trait best avoided in presidents.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Scott Walker: not ready for primetime

  1. Jon K says:

    scott walker is pure tea party. he is ted cruz without the bombast and personality. he’s also not a college graduate. he peaked to early and donald trump has made him decide he’s got to do whatever he can to get covered. he’s shown he’s not ready for primetime and isn’t smart enough to be president.

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