Matt Lewis cuts Walker some slack for not knowing much about national and international issues:
In some respects, it’s impossible to expect someone like Walker to be completely and immediately up to speed on foreign policy, monetary policy, and other issues of national and international import. The learning curve is steep. This is a guy who basically went directly from being a county supervisor to having to win three statewide elections in four years. In between he won a major battle against labor unions. Good luck finding time to “cram” on foreign policy.
All of that is true as far as it goes, but it raises an obvious question: why did Walker think he was remotely ready to be president? Walker said something during his campaign that was actually sensible. In one of his interviews, he made a point of saying that it wasn’t enough to prepare for debates. He said that a candidate should be working to prepare himself to be president. In Walker’s own words:
“My belief is if I’m gonna, I’m even thinking about running for president of the United States, it’s not about preparing for debates,” he said. “It’s about being prepared to be the president of the United States.”
That was a good line, but unfortunately for Walker that was all that it was. He hadn’t prepared earlier, and as Lewis pointed out he simply didn’t have time to make up for what he hadn’t done earlier. It didn’t help that he was getting advice from hard-liners on foreign policy that were sure to encourage him to take maximalist and foolish positions, but no matter what positions he took he was not going to be ready to defend them.
It is common to excuse the ignorance of our politicians on foreign policy on the grounds that most voters don’t care about it anyway. It is even more common to excuse the ignorance of governors because it is not part of the job they were elected to do, and because they are kept very busy with their own state’s various problems. All of that is fair up to a point, but it doesn’t explain why politicians, and especially governors, that have ambitions for higher office don’t first put in the time and effort needed to learn something about the issues that a president will be expected to address. When it comes to almost any other field, it is taken for granted that someone seeking a high-ranking position will have done the necessary homework and preparation in advance, and it wouldn’t be acceptable for would-be leaders in other sorts of organization to “wing it” and play catch up on matters that will be central to the office they will hold.
Yet for some reason when it comes to selecting presidential nominees, and especially when it comes to foreign policy, candidates are expected to clear an extremely low bar to demonstrate that they are ready to run the executive branch of the United States government. The fact that Walker couldn’t even clear this very low bar doesn’t reflect well on him, but it still reminds us of how low our standards are for our presidential nominees in general. Were that not so, someone with so little preparation on foreign policy as Walker would never imagine that he was qualified to be president.