Scott Walker is the presumptive front-runner among Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential race. Most polling puts this as a race between Walker and Jeb Bush. Where Bush has the advantage is in lining up donors whereas Walker is making rhetorical waves. Although Walker’s performance at CPAC was not as stellar as at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, his performance was certainly better than that of Bush.
In 2012, the presidential race, even at this early stage, was best described by USA Today as a “flavor of the month” affair. The key for Walker will be do avoid that moniker and to build upon the good will he has developed of late. Several recent actions and comments seem to indicate that Walker is predictably moving to the right of Bush. He recently told Fox News that he has changed his mind about a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He told the Susan B Anthony List- a pro-life group- that he favors banning abortion after 20 weeks (although no bill is proposed or pending in Wisconsin). Recently he visited the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the Iowa Agricultural Summit. He will visit New Hampshire and South Carolina in the coming weeks.
His change of heart on immigration is perhaps not understandable to the mainstream media who graded his comment a complete flip-flop. This is the same media that ignores the fact that Obama on at least nine occasions claimed he lacked the power to grant amnesty through executive action and then actually and eventually did just that. Walker’s flip flop is rhetorical; Obama’s is actual and actual actions have greater practical effects than words.
If they had dug a little deeper, they would have listened not just to Walker’s change of heart, but some of the reasons. He came out against the deal worked out by McConnell and Boehner to fund the Homeland Security Department and his opposition was twofold. First, he was against the way Congress was giving up use of the power of the purse. What good is that power if there is a Republican congressional leadership afraid to use it? Second, he was angry about the Democrats who stated they were against Obama’s executive action, but then voted the opposite. In effect, Walker is building up a case that Democrats cannot be trusted and neither can the old-school Republicans in Washington. In a single stroke, he casts himself as anti-Washington and anti-Democratic Party- the two main targets for the GOP in 2016 if they wish to win the White House.
And although the campaign right now is one of fundraising and rhetoric, sooner or later policy will become the center of focus. The appearance at the AEI will focus on foreign affairs and security. Some members of that think tank have noted that Walker will have to do his research and that touting his battle against the unions in Wisconsin will not survive the smell test at the AEI. And how Walker deals with agricultural policy and ethanol subsidies when he appeared in Iowa will also be important policy forums where people should be looking for specifics.
In the interim, the Leftist press is pushing the envelope against Walker by calling him a “flip-flopper,” giving him “four Pinocchios,” and calling him racist. This last set of accusations evolves from Alternet where Walker was critcized because of his anti-union rhetoric and actions which they then make the claim that unions are somehow suddenly friendly to minorities. In fact, if the children at DailyKos and Alternet did any research, they would realize that unions are historically the most racist institutions in America. The Bacon-Davis Act, a federal law that mandates prevailing union wages for federal contracts, is the law of the land. It was also originally passed to keep blacks from receiving jobs and is perhaps the last vestige of anti-minority legislation enshrined in federal law. One needs to wonder how many minority-owned businesses are denied contracts because of this Act. But, to the children at these Leftist sites, union wages equal higher wages equals increased income for minorities. That may work only if minorities were not institutionally kept out of unions.
They also assert that Wisconsin’s voter ID bill is nothing more than a poll tax. We have heard these assertions elsewhere wherever voter ID laws are discussed. Again, unfortunately facts get in the way of the rhetoric. Then they accuse him of race-baiting during his election against Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett and running a Willie Horton-type advertisement. And of course because he sought cuts to Milwaukee’s parks and transit system, this was predicated upon Walker’s inherent racism since we all know that minorities use a city’s park system more than its white population.
The attacks will only intensify as this campaign heats up. Whoever is the front-runner at any time will face these ridiculous attacks and how they respond will be important. Thus far, Walker has stuck to his guns and basically ignored the nonsense directed his way. More importantly, specific policy proposals will have to replace rhetoric at some point. Thankfully, we have moved past the lack-of-a-college degree controversy and have laid to sleep Walker’s views on evolution (hopefully). But then when you have people like Al Sharpton and Howard Dean attacking Walker with their amazing command of the English language, college degrees and evolution were more entertaining.