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Scott Walker Is Quick to Retreat

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is proud to preen [1] before a CPAC audience, and affirm that his experience weathering a crowd of protesters in Madison proves that he has the mettle to stare down ISIS and the Russians. The power brokers of Des Moines, however, are one adversary that will apparently send him running for the hard-to-find Midwestern hills.

For those blessed with lives that do not involve keeping up with political staffing intrigue, Scott Walker’s PAC announced [2] on Monday that it was hiring the political consultant Liz Mair to advise on social media and online outreach. Mair is a young, talented, rather libertarian consultant who is widely respected for being damn good at her job. Congratulations were quickly in order, and the Walker organization seemed to headed in a very smart direction.

Then the powers-that-be in Iowa [3] noticed that Mair, like many intelligent observers of politics, had criticized [4] their death grip on the presidential nomination process.

Mair also took shots at the grossly market-distorting ethanol mandates that the corn industry has paid handsomely to maintain, and which has been additionally protected by Iowa’s favored status.

Mair was not hired as a policy adviser on energy policy, nor as an adviser on social issues or immigration, where her libertarian streak likely runs counter to Walker’s views, or at least those he has an interest in being viewed as holding. She was hired as a consultant, a sign that Walker was willing to surround himself with the best people. It was a move born out of confidence.

And it has now become an embarrassing display of cowardice.

Late last night, one day after Mair was hired, it was announced that she had resigned [6], saying, “The tone of some of my tweets concerning Iowa was at odds with that which Gov. Walker has always encouraged in political discourse.”

As Philip Klein wrote [7] when Walker first reversed himself to kowtow to the ethanol mandate earlier this month: “If Walker can’t stand up to Iowans, how will he stand up to the Islamic State?”

Walker has enjoyed rock-star status among the conservative grassroots and many insiders alike, precisely because of his cultivated image as a principled fighter who could take a punch and still come up victorious. His battles with Wisconsin public sector unions are his calling card, and chief credential, to the aforementioned point that he tries to stretch them into the foreign policy credential [8] he sorely lacks.

Walkers’s rapid capitulation to an Iowa and Breitbart [9] backlash to a smart staff hire is more than a misstep on his way to building a campaign, then. It undermines his entire rationale for being a candidate.

Being president requires saying no to allies expecting a yes even more than refusing adversaries who never had any other expectations. If Scott Walker is happy to get conservative kudos for fighting unions, but unable to resist the slightest bit of pressure on his right (with even Erick Erickson [10] providing cover), he won’t look like the man needed to clean up the right [11], much less the country.

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "Scott Walker Is Quick to Retreat"

#1 Comment By Reflectionephemeral On March 18, 2015 @ 8:58 am

It undermines his entire rationale for being a candidate.

No, it doesn’t.

White Iowa Republicans are “us”. Union members are “them”.

This is exactly what his supporters expected of him. It is a nearly costless easy decision.

#2 Comment By John On March 18, 2015 @ 9:56 am

While I agree with Ms. Mair and believe that Walker needs someone like her, Ms. Mair would have been the first to tell Walker that he needed to cut her loose after this. Walker needs to build momentum early; Iowa is a more likely win for him than New Hampshire, which skews left, or South Carolina, suspicious of candidates not from the South.

As for whether a party this consumed with trivia deserves to win a general election for President of the United States, well, that’s a question for another time.

#3 Comment By M_Young On March 18, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

1) According to the linked article, the ethanol subsidy hasn’t existed for 3+ years and the subsidy for growing crops for conversion of cellulose to energy expired last year. So Mair apparently isn’t quite up there regarding policy.

2) Her snarky tweets may play well with Reason readers, but a constituency of, what, 1,000,000 isn’t really going to get you far.* So no, the ‘new media’ expert performed tremendously inexpertly.

3) Lovely echoes of the ‘Southern Avenger’ fiasco.

*Because these are overwhelmingly white, that number should be halved, because white votes don’t count

#4 Comment By Is This a Serious Website? On March 18, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

Let me get this straight. Scott Walker, who is running for president, dumps his pro-gay-marriage, pro-choice, pro-amnesty media consultant who made an insulting insulting tweet about a socially conservative constituency. His action is supposed to be cowardly, because really he should just stand up to these yokels and defend his media team; this, despite the fact that it’s their job to make him look good, rather than bad, to the American people. Particularly, you know, to the right-of-center people, given that the Republican party considers itself a right-of-center party.

I can’t take you TAC columnists seriously. Maybe the best way to understand this website is that it’s now a subtle Onion-type website that is making fun of granola, urban conservatism. I don’t know what else to conclude.

#5 Comment By jamie On March 18, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

All other things about Walker being true, expecting a presidential candidate to defend someone dumping on the Iowa caucus might be a tall order.

#6 Comment By balconesfault On March 18, 2015 @ 4:40 pm

Tempest in a teapot … all these consultants and bloggers and media advisors take themselves much too seriously.

#7 Comment By mike forzano On March 18, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

She is right. It is a process that excludes other americans.

#8 Comment By M_Young On March 18, 2015 @ 5:56 pm

“White Iowa Republicans are “us”. Union members are “them”.”

The public sector union members I saw occupying the Wisconsin statehouse a couple of years ago were overwhelmingly white. I suspect the private sector union members in Wisconsin are overwhelmingly white. It is idiot savant libertarianism — and their corporate and US Chamber of Commerce backers — rather than white solidarity, that is driving the GOP attack on unions.

If they’d stop it, it would take away the very small figleaf that the Dems have as being ‘pro-worker’.

#9 Comment By CharleyCarp On March 18, 2015 @ 10:02 pm

It’s a nothing story, from which nothing should be inferred.

No one, no matter what they say, is supporting Walker because he’s a principled fighter. It’s all about who he’s fighting. (Just as the people constantly moaning about credibility — well highlighted by Larison — don’t actually care about credibility* at all, but just say whatever pops into their heads as justification for the policies they want.)

It’s only worth having these silly little episodes if folks are willing to learn the lessons revealed by them.

* As I’ve said before, I’ll believe these folks actually care about credibility when they start demanding the immediate closure of the Guantanamo prison.

#10 Comment By CharleyCarp On March 18, 2015 @ 10:04 pm

Nothing about Walker, that is.

#11 Comment By Clint On March 19, 2015 @ 2:41 am

Apparently, Walker’s has bigger problems with his growing Flip Flopper reputation, on questions about portions of his positions on issues such as Common Core,amnesty,Ethanol,pro life and right to work.

#12 Comment By Rich On March 19, 2015 @ 9:48 am

I think it’s called picking your battles.
I want a prudent fighter.

#13 Comment By Deggjr On March 19, 2015 @ 10:10 am

The quick retreat is in lieu of vetting a staff member before hiring. First take credit for hiring, then find out whether that person actually fits the job.

Scott Walker brings the old Groucho Marx punchline to life: “Those are my principles and if you don’t like them I have others.”

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 19, 2015 @ 11:12 am

Walker’s rise to fame is as a union buster. Kow-towing to the corporatists, donorists and financialists and assorted one per centers is entirely consistent with that modus operandi.

#15 Comment By midtown On March 19, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

I’m glad he dumped her. People like her got Romney and McCain not-elected.

#16 Comment By Mike On March 22, 2015 @ 7:58 pm

She was awful on immigration and needed to go.