I’m not the first person who’s suggested this is what’s really going on. Dave Cieslewicz, to name one fairly well-known Madison political commentator, has been saying it in public for a while. Walker can’t possibly be elected President, with his Tea Party politics of division and regression. The election will be decided, as it usually is, by the voters who live in the urban areas of our nation, and they won’t pull the lever for Walker. And the party officials know it.
So, what I (and a lot of others) think is going on here, is that Walker for the past few years has been polishing his bona fides as an arch-conservative fundamentalist Christian politician, so that when the party picks its nominee, that nominee will name Walker his (or, unlikely, her) running mate, in an attempt to pick up some of those who oppose abortion, immigration, gay marriage, et.al.
That moves Walker up another rung, and positions him for a real run for the Oval Office.
One thing seems pretty certain: Walker has no interest in governing Wisconsin. Long after he’s gone from the state’s political scene, there will be no public buildings named after Scott Walker. No state parks will bear his name. No endowed chairs of higher education will be established in his name. His legacy won't be much.
As he proved during the recent budget battle, he had no interest in helping his state party – which holds the majority in both houses – do the work of shepherding the document. He just inserts the far-right language that boosts his Presidential run, and then heads off to another state for a fundraiser or campaign event.
Please understand, and this may shock you, that I’m closer by far to being a Tommy Thompson Republican than a Jim Doyle Democrat. Not the Tommy Thompson who ran that horribly ungracious campaign for U.S. Senate against Tammy Baldwin, where an openly gay Madison liberal thoroughly trounced what was left of Tea Party Tommy. (That’s Wisconsin: we elect a progressive liberal lesbian to one of our U.S. Senate seats, and an arch-conservative Tea Party darling to the other one.)
I’m talking about the Tommy Thompson who so clearly loved his home state, governed effectively, built roads, presided over the expansion and improvement of our state’s public education system from K-12 public schools to the great UW System, championed mass transit, and expanded health care options for his fellow ‘sconnies.
Among many other things which today would be viewed as very un-Republican.
I'm talking about the Tommy who openly wept when the Republican bosses told him he had to move to Washington DC to serve in Dubya’s cabinet. Tommy before he changed into a partisan hack. Tommy who loved to govern, before he started barking the Tea Party lines about how government is bad in his last run for public office. Tommy the Wisconsin cheerleader-in-chief.
Now, I’m in that large, middle-part of the electorate which is essentially politically homeless. Mike McCabe talks about this segment a lot in his new Blue Jean Nation movement. I’m disappointed by the Democrats and disillusioned by the Republicans. I can’t stand people who preach about how bad government is, while running for government office; I can’t stand those who do nothing but denigrate those who hold public office and talk about how horrible those people are.
I want somebody with ideas to make government BETTER.
Which brings me back around to Walker. He has always had his sights set on the next rung of the political ladder. Not that others haven’t, but it seems to me Walker is more intent on moving up, than really establishing a record or accomplishing a common-good goal. I don’t think he wants to make anything better. I think he wants to improve his lot, not help other people improve theirs.
My former colleague, the irascible conservative commentator and frequent Rush Limbaugh fill-in host Mark Belling, says when the campaign for President is done, Walker has no reason to hang onto the job of Wisconsin governor. Belling points out Walker is not yet wealthy, has two kids in college, and that there’s a ton of money to be made on the lecture circuit. Since he’s not shown any discernable interest in being Governor other than as another notch on the belt, it’s entirely conceivable Walker will pull a Sarah Palin and just quit the job of Governor, leaving, omigod, Becky Kleefish in charge - to make bank as a talking head.
Unless, of course, the nominee picks Walker as a running mate. Then, when the Republicans lose the national election again, Walker won’t be like Paul Ryan and just return to his political job. No reason to.
So whether he ends up as a Vice Presidential candidate, or as just another face on Fox News, or a hot air machine on the lecture circuit, or whatever, I’m confident this is his last term as Wisconsin governor, and that he’s not going to be our next President.