Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker, the man who developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense, principled conservative, willing to wage tough fights with labor unions, appears unwilling to stand on principle, now that he is angling to become the Republican nominee for President. Governor Walker is catching heat from some conservative critics for being too willing to pander to Iowa Republicans.
The issue is highlighted by Walker’s decision to force the resignation of digital consultant Liz Mair, just a day after she was hired. Mair’s unpardonable sins were some past tweets, where she was critical of Iowa’s over-sized influence, gleaned by hosting the first in the nation caucuses. Those old tweets irritated some prominent Iowa Republicans, including state Republican chair, Jeff Kaufmann, who suggested that she should be sent packing. Walker, bowing to the Iowa Republican Party establishment, quickly obliged. After all, he’s running for president, for Pete’s sake.
Earlier in March, Governor Walker flip-flopped to support ethanol subsidies, in order to pander to Iowa Republican voters and state GOP officials. He has also shifted his position on immigration reform, to get in line with Republican orthodoxy. Some conservative pundits, to their credit, were quick to pounce on the contradiction between Walker’s tough guy image, and his weak surrender to the Iowa GOP bosses.
The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg and Red State’s Erick Erickson, both suggested that Walker was demonstrating that he is not “ready for prime time”. They also noted that Walker’s inability to stand up to people in his own party appeared hypocritical for a man who prides himself on taking on the tough battles against special interest groups. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney penned a scathing piece entitled “Walker will stand up to the other guys. For ‘our guys,’ he rolls over.” His critique encapsulated all that is wrong with Walker’s presidential roll out in Iowa. Carney opined:
The man who stood up to his state’s most powerful special interest groups is also the man who, when summoned to a cronyfest in Iowa, rolled over on ethanol and then tried to weasel his way out of a flip-flop.
The man who proudly ran as a conservative and won three statewide elections in four years against floods of out-of-state money, and a storm of media antagonism, is the man who fired a campaign aide last night because she once criticized Iowa for its dependence on federal subsidies.
The pattern is this: Scott Walker will stand up and fight the special interests, if they’re already his sworn political enemies. But when he gets pushed around by a political power broker, or a well-heeled lobby group that’s “on our side,” Walker rolls over….
This pattern is so damning of Walker, because there’s no way we can expect it to end with Iowa. He rolls over for the special interests on “our side,” which is exactly the problem with today’s GOP writ large…
Carney went on to argue that Walker, as president, would be a crony capitalist, beholden to the whims of Wall Street and other corporate interests, who would demand special treatment from Walker.
Walker has caved into every demand from Iowa party leaders put forth. Unlike former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has stood firm defending unpopular positions within his party, like favoring immigration reform and defending Common Core education standards, Walker will abandon his “principles” the moment it seems politically expedient. He is a follower, not a leader.
Despite his reputation for being a strong, principled conservative, perhaps Walker has never been anything more than an empty suit shilling for his Republican paymasters. Conservative pundits are starting to figure that out. The onetime Republican superhero, lauded for his courage as Governor, has morphed into a candidate so feckless that he makes 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, look like a profile in political courage by comparison.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.