Today, Scott Walker nearly gave me whiplash.
Granted, I haven’t been following the GOP presidential hopeful crazy train as closely as the lizard part of my brain keeps telling me to, but even if I had been, I don’t think I would have seen this coming.
Walker entered the race earlier this year riding a wave of momentum, storming out of the gate at Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit with, okay, a pretty fiery and impassioned speech, the highlight of which was him recounting the time he stood up to a labor activist threatening to “gut [Walker’s] wife like a deer,” which really only serves to prove that people will say all sorts of things they don’t actually mean when you take away their rights as workers and as human beings.
Then, he criss-crossed the Midwest on the back of a Harley Davidson, which was supposed to emphasize his working class roots — although, if you consider the price of a new Harley nowadays, all it did was emphasize his upper-middle-class-white-guy-with-something-to-compensate-for roots. His Super PAC raised over $20 million. He was confident, and had reason to be.
Fast-forward to now, and he’s an “asterisk candidate,” the kind of name that’ll pop up on Wikipedia when some poor high schooler in 2032 has to do a book report on this freak show of an election cycle. He’s out of money, out of time and out of ideas; he only just quit today, but the only way he was going to win this thing was if he was the only Republican candidate not taken up in the Rapture. And since Ben Carson’s recent remarks that a Muslim “should not be President” smacks more of casual old-man xenophobia than true evil, I’d wager Walker is still the odds-on favorite for the title of “Future Immortan Joe acolyte.” Oh for f***’s sake, go see “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
What happened? Well, a couple of things, one of which wasn’t really his fault, as much as I’ve said in the past that everything — from eroded workers’ rights to the dawn of butthole cancer — is Scott Walker’s fault. That one thing is his lack of true “outsider” cred.
See, Republicans, or at least Republican voters, love an outsider: a cowboy, an underdog, someone unsullied by the Washington machine. That’s why, in past elections, people like Herman Cain, and now Donald Trump and Ben Carson, make such strong showings: they can market themselves, at least for a while, as the Man with No Name, the Judge at the End of Politics. The problem with that notion, of course, is that people want and expect Jimmy Stewart from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and end up getting President Camacho from “Idiocracy.”
And Walker tried to portray himself as a maverick; see “Harley Davidson” above. But in reality, he’s a career politician; after working with the Red Cross for a while, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1992, and worked his way up from there. Strike 1.
Strike 2 is even more unforgivable: being a “flip-flopper.” Conservative voters have loved throwing that term around, especially since the 2004 election: people pasted sandals on the back of their Cadillac Escalades, and scrawled the name “Kerry” on them in magic marker. And though that was about as clever as a bowel movement, it stuck. Just like a bowel movement.
It’s a ridiculous term, because it seems to leave no room whatsoever for a candidate to change his or her mind on an issue — like, y’know, a normal and rational human being would. But Walker’s transgressions were egregious even on such a truncated scale: he gave three separate, conflicting statements regarding the children of undocumented immigrants, then in a later CNBC interview, flat-out refused to take any position at all.
The official reason that Walker’s camp gave for his withdrawal is that the money ran out, but that in itself is a symptom of his overall undesirability as a candidate. Unfortunately, he seems to be bulletproof here in Wisconsin, having won two official elections, plus a recall.
So Georgia, America, we’ll shoulder this burden for you until 2018. He’ll have a new Harley by then, so just don’t fall for it again, alright?