Why Did Walker Do It?

Sep. 22, 2015
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Nobody seriously believes that God called told Scott Walker to drop out of the race for the GOP nomination any more than anybody believes God told him to run in the first place. 

No, Walker dropped out for a much more earthly reason. Some thoughts, based on the endless Monday-morning quarterbacking flooding cable TV and the Internet: 

Taking one for the team: Walker said that he was called to lead in a different way by clearing the field for a positive conservative to provide an alternative to the frontrunner—Donald Trump. The question is, why couldn’t Walker himself be that positive conservative alternative? Let’s start with the fact that he was a terrible presidential candidate: ignorant, immature, pandering, desperate. And he’s never been “positive” in Wisconsin, either. He’s been divisive, polarizing, smug, deceitful—but definitely not positive. 

The money: Walker’s always had a high burn rate and it looks like he kept that up as a presidential candidate. If you believe what the campaign insiders say, he expanded too quickly and broadly and his fundraising couldn’t keep up. Walker’s always been well-funded—and has pushed campaign finance laws to the limit to ensure that he and his supporters were flush with cash—so it must have been daunting for him to have to worry about it for once. That said, if he’d been a better candidate he could have stuck it out a little bit longer and come up with some more money. 

The kids’ table: The next debate will be held in Boulder, Colo., but the following one in November will be held in Wisconsin. There’s talk that Walker would have been bumped from the main event to the kids’ table in the next GOP debate and other chatter that there wouldn’t be a kids’ table at all, nixing Walker’s appearance. Talk about a blow for a very big ego.

The scandal: There’s always a scandal surrounding Walker and this time is no different. Who knows what’s true and it doesn’t matter anymore, really, and I don't particularly care what it was. All it did was give Walker some more bad headlines when he was flailing. And with Walker there’s always the potential for another scandal to break. All I can say is stay tuned. 

The personality: I’ve been a Walker observer for a long time and it’s sort of amazing to see him brought down so low, so quickly. Predictably, of course, he’s spinning his decision to leave in his favor and not taking responsibility for any of his failures. Losing is uncharted territory for him. He’s always been in charge and when he’s been under pressure he’s retreated to his bubble—the Capitol tunnel during the protests, the chummy FOX studios, the no-questions-asked photo ops, right-wing talk radio, billionaires’ lunches at which he groveled for money. On this campaign trail, though, he hasn’t been able to stay within the bubble—the national press made sure of that. The guy is pretty provincial and bragging about his Kohl’s discount and Harley riding and Eagle Scout achievements just made him look small and derpy. Walker needs to get an education—not just a degree, but an education—and figure out what it’s like to live in the real world outside of the safe confines of red Wisconsin with a steady paycheck. It would do him a world of good no matter what he does next. 

The future: Did he retreat now so that he can buy some goodwill with the party and come back stronger in 2020? That’s probably what he’s telling himself. But he’s got a lot of work to do before then. Like, learn about national issues. Learn about international issues. Make peace with Wisconsin Republicans, who I’m sure are quite bitter about how the dragon-slayer-turned-punchline governor has treated them, top Republicans who would love to be at the top of the state ticket in 2018. This may be the most interesting story of them all: Will Walker survive Wisconsin?

PS: And if you are jonesing for more Walker news, check out our Truth About Scott Walker section.

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