Scott Walker and a ‘Return to Normalcy’

 

Scott WalkerDespite what The Donald and Jeb! and Carly said in last week’s debate, Scott Walker’s closing statement tackled an even larger elephant in the room: “I’m a guy with a wife, two kids, and a Harley. One article called me ‘aggressively normal.'” The Wisconsin Governor’s detractors aren’t as euphemistic. Let’s face it: Scott Walker is B-O-R-I-N-G.

He brags about the bargain rack at Kohl’s. He spends his Sunday mornings at church and his Sunday afternoons watching the Packers. He live-tweets his haircuts and getting the oil changed in his Saturn. His only unhealthy obsession seems to be an addiction to hot ham and rolls after church. (He really loves hot ham.)

In a news cycle filled with burning cities, beheaded Christians, and transgendered Kardashians, how does a dull Midwesterner stand out? He showed how Thursday night. To paraphrase a reporter talking about Barry Goldwater’s presidential strategy, “my God, Walker is running as Walker!”

This isn’t the first time a politician listed “aggressively normal” as a selling point. In 1920, America’s political climate was in even greater tumult than today’s. President Wilson had fundamentally transformed the federal government into an oppressive entity that regularly jailed detractors, instituted a then-unimaginable level of regulation, and created the first income tax. Our battered soldiers returned from the charnel houses of Europe to find an executive branch pushing for an even more robust internationalism. By the time the president was incapacitated by stroke (a fact hidden for months), most Americans had had enough.

In a field of flashy candidates, a dull Midwesterner caught the zeitgeist by calling for a “Return to Normalcy”:

“America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.”

Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding’s promise of a boring four years delivered a landslide victory from an exhausted electorate. After dying in office he was replaced by our dullest president, Calvin Coolidge, who was succeeded by a third steady hand, Herbert Hoover.

In many ways Walker is the heir to Silent Cal; a leader focused on concrete results with minimal rhetoric and even less drama. He spent his time as a county executive and governor methodically rolling back the worst excesses of government as the world flailed around him. The unwashed progressives in Madison ranted and raved, but Walker remained the eye of the storm. Unions threatened his family, judges harassed his friends, and MSNBC’s Ed Schultz held a year-long St. Vitus’ dance, while the governor stretched in his church pew, dreaming about hot ham.

As an ideologue, I’m more attracted to conservatarian activism. If a candidate promised to cut government in half, I would think it was merely a good start. Forget balancing the budget, I want spending well below incoming revenues for the next decade. And if the next government shutdown doesn’t last a year, don’t bother. So, on paper, a “return to normalcy” shouldn’t be that appealing.

But Walker appeals to an exhaustion with politics in general. Like most small-government enthusiasts, I don’t want to think about Washington, D.C. every minute of every day. My ideal politician is someone I only hear about at election time and maybe in January when he submits his State of the Union address in writing. I would much rather focus my time on family, business, and art, than waste Christmas Eve watching C-SPAN’s live congressional feed. I long for the days when supermarket magazine racks featured celebrity weight loss tips instead of FLOTUS lecturing me about kale.

If we’re frustrated with politics now, we’ll be desperate for relief by November 2016. If Scott Walker is able to capitalize on that mood — starting with a definition of what “normal” even means anymore — the White House chef might need to stock up on hot ham and rolls.

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  1. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    Walker knows how to land a punch. Hillary accuses him of making college unaffordable for the middle class.

    His response:

    Screen-Shot-2015-08-12-at-1.38.30-PM

    • #61
  2. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    billy:Walker knows how to land a punch. Hillary accuses him of making college unaffordable for the middle class.

    His response:

    Screen-Shot-2015-08-12-at-1.38.30-PM

    I call it “The Velvet Hammer.”

    Walker sits upon a throne of skulls for a reason: he can shank his opponents with a smile on his face.

    • #62
  3. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    On the one before he points out he froze in-state tuition for four years.

    Of course, she’s trying to make hay out of him cutting funding to the University of Wisconsin.  Which he actually did.

    • #63
  4. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    BTW – this thread was just front-paged on Hot Air.  Everybody smile for the camera!

    • #64
  5. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Cat III: Thanks for the clarification, Leigh. I should do more research before I believe what I hear second hand.

    James Of England: It’s not your fault. You were lied to. There were a lot of people who spun Walker saying that he wanted to end the subsidy in a reasonable manner as a massive flip flop. If you end the subsidy overnight, you cause needless economic harm. If you transition it out, you give farmers some opportunity to adapt their finances. Walker proposed implementing his previously announced principle in a sensible way and CATO and Breitbart went straight into screaming about betrayal. The Daily Shot was downstream from CATO.

    Well… part of that was a direct result of Walker’s own spin.  When you present a position of phasing out a subsidy as current “support” for the subsidy, you can’t complain too much when it’s reported as support.

    • #65
  6. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Majestyk:BTW – this thread was just front-paged on Hot Air. Everybody smile for the camera!

    Evidently people in the Hot Air comments section don’t read the articles.

    A return to normalcy?

    No I don’t think we want that. It sounds like status quo.

    bgibbs1000 on August 12, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    • #66
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Manny:

    Walker has spent years with his every statement being minutely examined for falsehoods. He’s thus careful not to say things that aren’t true, to a much greater extent than most of the candidates.

    Well, that’s to his credit, and he might make a great president. But so far I have heard anything noteworthy. I’ll be a strong supporter if he wins the nomination, but so far he hasn’t given me a reason to vote for him in the primary. He’s fallen to fourth place on my pecking order, and he was number one at one point.

    Would it be fair to sum this up as “Walker may be excellent in practice, but I’ve yet to see anything that makes him appealing in theory”?

    Leigh:James, you sound like you’re essentially endorsing Walker and writing off Rubio. Am I reading you correctly?

    I would like a President Rubio; he’s sound on most issues, he’s articulate, he’s earnest and positive, and he’s got an appealing story. I really liked his book; it’s by far the best of the campaign books on forward looking policy (Disclaimer: I haven’t read Santorum’s).  He’s not my guy, though, because

    a: I really care about results. Not only has Rubio not got positive results (not easy in the current Senate), but he’s had actively negative results. His immigration bill saw him being repeatedly out-negotiated by Democrats. I don’t want a President who wants the right things. I want a President who will achieve the right things.

    b: We’re going to have a massive negative campaign. A literally unprecedented volume of hate. I think Rubio looks like a professional politician. He’s smooth and witty and gets good zingers in. He’s an ex-Mormon Baptist who goes to Catholic and Non-Denominational services. He married a cheerleader. Scott may be “aggressively normal”, but Tonette raises the “ordinary” to stratospheric levels. Liberals are really well trained at talking about race, but they’re terrible at talking about education snobbery; they’re unable to resist denigrating the 3/4 of Americans who lack 4 year degrees.

    Rubio’s a pretty conventional politician. Walker seems to be uniquely suited to running against Clinton. When Clinton talks about the relative hardship of flying in her State Dept. 757 instead of the more comfortable First Lady 747 (while noting that both are more comfortable than the private jet she flew in as Senator), she makes herself and her party seem weird. They will spend a fortune making their opponent seem weirder. I don’t think that things would have had to have gone very differently for Romney to have beaten Obama (King of Bain, for instance, was decisive, and a solid move to endorse Romney after the primaries would also have done it). Clinton seems harder. I’ve repeatedly been in the room when someone (never me) mentions Rubio’s ears and people chuckle and talk about how they can’t listen to what he says when they’ve noticed them. Walker is more like the “everyday Americans” Clinton champions in appearance than any Presidential candidate in a long time.

    Rubio is completely correct in saying that his story is exceptional, and that’s not wholly a good thing. We get excited about copying Obama’s affirmative action and forget about the downside; there really are a lot of people for whom diverse ethnicity (and Cubans are diverse from just about everyone) really is othering, and really does make it easier to believe awful things.

    Here’s a piece of trivia, for what it’s worth. Walker just announced his campaign chairman here in Virginia: Sen. Mark Obenshain, who as candidate for attorney general came came closest in all Virginia’s recent heartbreakingly close statewide races, and is very possibly the next governor. I know, endorsements mean little, but that’s a big catch and a sign of solid organization in the making.

    Virginia matters. This year’s Super Tuesday starts less than a month after Iowa, so campaigns need to be set up for Virginia before too long. You’re right that you could overstate the importance, but it’s definitely helpful.

    • #67
  8. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    Leigh:

    Majestyk:BTW – this thread was just front-paged on Hot Air. Everybody smile for the camera!

    Evidently people in the Hot Air comments section don’t read the articles.

    A return to normalcy?

    No I don’t think we want that. It sounds like status quo.

    bgibbs1000 on August 12, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    Check out the ones who do read.

    The insight of HA’s Joseph K:

     [I]t’s the worst, most preposterous article I’ve read today. Contrary to Jon Gabriel’s assertion, boredom is not a strength, and it is not a virtue, Warren Harding, Silent Cal, and Herbert Hoover notwithstanding

    Moreover, the entire premise of this article is wrong. Not only didn’t Walker get a real bounce from the debate he, unlike Rubio, and Kasich, didn’t get a media bounce. Until Jon Gabriel launched this surprising attempt to register on GOP Inc.’s radar, no one has been talking about Walker, and he has not moved up in the polls

    Jon Gabriel must be trying to position his unknown site, Ricochet, as the new Red State. Good luck, Jon, perhaps in a few years you can be picked up by Salem!

    Don’t suppose Joseph K will be signing up for a Thatcher level membership anytime soon.

    • #68
  9. Throat Wobbler Mangrove Member
    Throat Wobbler Mangrove
    @ThroatWobblerMangrove

    I love Scott Walker.  I feel he is by far the best candidate in the race, and would make an excellent president.  He is the un-Obama — humble and incredibly competent.

    • #69
  10. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Billy, the profoundness of that insight amazes me.

    James — I’ve long felt that Walker would be a better president.  That’s the first time I’ve seen anyone else argue that he is more electable.

    I don’t know.  I think Rubio beats Clinton.  But you get to a point I have thought about.  Rubio’s eloquent, well-spoken, appealing — but Walker is, I think, simply a more skillful politician.  And he connects.  But what he can’t do, I don’t think, is break out on a crowded debate stage.  One-on-one vs. Clinton (or Biden, or Sanders) he’d be fine.  This is different.

    It doesn’t look like anyone else has a campaign chairman announced in Virginia yet, or any major endorsement.  Walker seems to be a step ahead.

    • #70
  11. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    billy:

    The insight of HA’s Joseph K:

    [I]t’s the worst, most preposterous article I’ve read today. Contrary to Jon Gabriel’s assertion, boredom is not a strength, and it is not a virtue, Warren Harding, Silent Cal, and Herbert Hoover notwithstanding

    To be fair to Joe, Jon’s point is not obvious.

    Moreover, the entire premise of this article is wrong. Not only didn’t Walker get a real bounce from the debate he, unlike Rubio, and Kasich, didn’t get a media bounce.

    It’s true that if Jon had disagreed with this, he’d have been wrong. This debate saw Walker given half the time of other candidates and did not see him bounce. Happily, Jon doesn’t make the attributed error.

    Until Jon Gabriel launched this surprising attempt to register on GOP Inc.’s radar, no one has been talking about Walker, and he has not moved up in the polls

    This is the sentence that got me. It reminds me of Trump’s claim that no one was talking about immigration before he entered the race. Walker’s the bookies’ second favorite to win the race, after Bush. I love Ricochet and it’s a good article, but if Walker wins the race, I’d be surprised if many historians write, “little known until an influential article from Jon Gabriel, Scott Walker was the surprise….”.

    • #71
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Leigh:

    Cat III:

    James Of England:

    Well… part of that was a direct result of Walker’s own spin. When you present a position of phasing out a subsidy as current “support” for the subsidy, you can’t complain too much when it’s reported as support.

    That’s a good point.

    • #72
  13. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Leigh:I don’t know. I think Rubio beats Clinton. But you get to a point I have thought about. Rubio’s eloquent, well-spoken, appealing — but Walker is, I think, simply a more skillful politician. And he connects. But what he can’t do, I don’t think, is break out on a crowded debate stage. One-on-one vs. Clinton (or Biden, or Sanders) he’d be fine. This is different.

    I think this is true. It’s very lucky for Walker that Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada (and New Hampshire) go first, states where the debates have less upside. If you win via New Hampshire alone in the early states (McCain), you probably need the debates, but winners through Iowa and not New Hampshire (eg. Bush 43, Dole) could afford to be lighter on the zingers. Obviously, people who lead in both (Romney, Bush 41, Reagan) don’t have to worry too much.

    It doesn’t look like anyone else has a campaign chairman announced in Virginia yet, or any major endorsement. Walker seems to be a step ahead.

    • #73
  14. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    James Of England: Walker is more like the “everyday Americans” Clinton champions in appearance than any Presidential candidate in a long time.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our candidate was the poster child for the people Clinton champions, and could prove that the didn’t need Clinton to  find and live a good and happy life?

    • #74
  15. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Jules PA:

    James Of England: Walker is more like the “everyday Americans” Clinton champions in appearance than any Presidential candidate in a long time.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our candidate was the poster child for the people Clinton champions, and could prove that the didn’t need Clinton to find and live a good and happy life?

    Thinking that you do need any Clintons to find and live a good and happy life is quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

    • #75
  16. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Matt Balzer:

    Jules PA:

    James Of England: Walker is more like the “everyday Americans” Clinton champions in appearance than any Presidential candidate in a long time.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our candidate was the poster child for the people Clinton champions, and could prove that the didn’t need Clinton to find and live a good and happy life?

    Thinking that you do need any Clintons to find and live a good and happy life is quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

    Clintons are not necessary, ever. They just muck up the opportunity, even though they try to tell you that you need them. I think that is our message, yes?

    • #76
  17. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    billy: The insight of HA’s Joseph K:

    [I]t’s the worst, most preposterous article I’ve read today. Contrary to Jon Gabriel’s assertion, boredom is not a strength, and it is not a virtue, Warren Harding, Silent Cal, and Herbert Hoover notwithstanding…

    Until Jon Gabriel launched this surprising attempt to register on GOP Inc.’s radar, no one has been talking about Walker, and he has not moved up in the polls Jon Gabriel must be trying to position his unknown site, Ricochet, as the new Red State. Good luck, Jon, perhaps in a few years you can be picked up by Salem! Don’t suppose Joseph K will be signing up for a Thatcher level membership anytime soon.

    You hear that, Rob and Peter? It’s MY unknown site!

    I told you I was smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!

    • #77
  18. Pete EE Member
    Pete EE
    @PeteEE

    donald todd: There is no comparison for a man between a Harley and a GE dishwasher. Nobody rides a dishwasher.

    Flagging for CoC.

    • #78
  19. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Leigh: Of course, she’s trying to make hay out of him cutting funding to the University of Wisconsin.  Which he actually did.

    UW lied about having a huge slush fund while demanding higher tuition….

    UW Slush Fund

    • #79
  20. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    James Of England:It’s not your fault. You were lied to. There were a lot of people who spun Walker saying that he wanted to end the subsidy in a reasonable manner as a massive flip flop.

    I should still have done some investigation of my own. I think I actually heard it on the Powerline podcast. Or was it HWX? Whatever, I’m getting too old to remember this stuff.

    If you end the subsidy overnight, you cause needless economic harm. If you transition it out, you give farmers some opportunity to adapt their finances.

    Here lies the difficulty. Once a program is in place, it’s a right bugger to get rid of. This is especially true of non-corporate welfare. A lot of people rely on Social Security or know that they will in the future. The left will hate you for even slowly phasing it out and the hard right will harangue you for not destroying it fast enough. I’m reminded of Jefferson’s quote that slavery is like having, “the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.”

    • #80
  21. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Kozak:

    Leigh: Of course, she’s trying to make hay out of him cutting funding to the University of Wisconsin. Which he actually did.

    UW lied about having a huge slush fund while demanding higher tuition….

    UW Slush Fund

    I remember that.  They brought it upon themselves.

    I’m presuming people on a conservative site would think having the nerve to cut higher education funding (within reason) was a good thing.  Although considering the views of the current frontrunner, maybe I shouldn’t assume that.

    • #81
  22. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy
    • #82
  23. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Leigh: I don’t mean that Cruz would (deliberately) misrepresent Walker’s governance — I hope not. But Cruz is an idealist and a talker and thinker. Walker had to govern. Cruz will find things to criticize. Some of them might even be fair. Some of it I could probably predict.

    I didn’t mean that either. What I meant was that I believe Cruz is a true ideologue (which I mean in the non-pejorative sense) who just wants a conservative to win. I don’t think he’d undermine a conservative candidate just to satiate his own ego.

    • #83
  24. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Majestyk:BTW – this thread was just front-paged on Hot Air. Everybody smile for the camera!

    Everybody say cheese(head)!

    • #84
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