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.

Members have made 84 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Isn’t that what Nixon won on?

    • #1
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm
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  2. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Coolidge

    From your keyboard to God’s screen.

    I’ve been saying for years that we need to respond to proggie calls for a “New New Deal” with a “New Return to Normalcy.”

    • #2
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:36 pm
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  3. Profile photo of Douglas Inactive

    I like Cruz because I think he’s the most principled, and there are things I like about Walker. I like that he gets things done in Wisconsin. Hard to do things. I like that he comes off as an average guy. I like that he’s accomplished what he was without college, and is an ideal model for leadership in a new era that doesn’t insist that every kid has to have a 4 year degree to be successful (a frankly insane idea that I’m ever grateful to Mike Rowe for combatting with a “get off your butt and learn to weld” message). The thought of a non-college POTUS just sends shivers of horror and disgust across the liberal/credentialed set. Part of me wants to support Walker just to see such people in a Biblical state of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    But… Cruz doesn’t seem to be able to sway enough people as of yet, and Walker seems unready to be President, at least as far as his campaigning tells us. He hasn’t be very impressive. And I still have trust issues with the guy. For man that’s been so impressive dealing with unions and size of government, he’s been disappointing on illegal immigration in the recent past, trying to sound poll tested and non-offensive. He’s getting better… but he still has a ways to go to convince me.

    • #3
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm
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  4. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    Barack Obama sold himself as a transformative candidate.

    Walker is a transformative candidate who doesn’t have to sell himself – his actions speak louder than words.

    The only thing that would concern me about his election as President would be the wild swings that our politics have taken in the past few years. At least if things keep going in a particular direction (horrific as they are) you can plan for the future.

    • #4
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:45 pm
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  5. Profile photo of Matt Bartle Member

    But we have “no drama Obama” now!

    • #5
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm
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  6. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    Then We can get back to rising seas and bad race relations.

    • #6
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm
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  7. Profile photo of Manny Member

    I like Scott Walker, but I found him to be a nothing in the debate. Sure he was boring. I can live with boring, but he struck me as completely inexperienced on the national stage. He reinforced his big negative. I’m sure he can recover, unless he really isn’t ready for the national stage, which is what I’m leaning toward.

    • #7
    • August 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm
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  8. Profile photo of Jules PA Member

    If his wife promises us hot ham instead of kale, as First Lady, he’s got my vote.

    😉

    • #8
    • August 11, 2015 at 7:03 pm
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  9. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Guruforhire:Isn’t that what Nixon won on?

    Nixon had a strong law and order component. That could also be in play by then.

    • #9
    • August 11, 2015 at 7:11 pm
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  10. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    For all the reasons in the original post, I too like Walker.

    We need an objective, no-ax-to-grind, mostly calm executive in the White House.

    I trust his judgment, that mine would probably be the same as his in most similar circumstances.

    • #10
    • August 11, 2015 at 7:20 pm
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  11. Profile photo of mezzrow Member

    Haven’t we had enough [C0C] flash yet? How about we get a guy in there who just does things. Quietly and effectively. I fear this nation may not be serious and mature enough to get the leader that it needs. Look what we’ve been dealing with. Look where we find ourselves. Imagine going back and bringing yourself up to date with the current state of things in the summer of 2008.

    Between Trump and Obama, we as a nation are gagging on toxic narcissism. When will we have our fill and purge ourselves of all this poison?

    • #11
    • August 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm
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  12. Profile photo of billy Inactive

    Manny:I like Scott Walker, but I found him to be a nothing in the debate. Sure he was boring. I can live with boring, but he struck me as completely inexperienced on the national stage. He reinforced his big negative. I’m sure he can recover, unless he really isn’t ready for the national stage, which is what I’m leaning toward.

    I think (actually hoping) that this is strategery. He lays low during the first debate as the Trump-for-President reality show plays out while concentrating on retail politics in Iowa.

    Besides, he got so few questions, how could he have really stood out?

    • #12
    • August 11, 2015 at 7:43 pm
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  13. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    Manny:I like Scott Walker, but I found him to be a nothing in the debate. Sure he was boring. I can live with boring, but he struck me as completely inexperienced on the national stage. He reinforced his big negative. I’m sure he can recover, unless he really isn’t ready for the national stage, which is what I’m leaning toward.

    I think this is the other elephant in the room. But what does “ready” mean? Ready to govern? Ready to discuss policy in detail?

    Walker’s a very cautious campaigner. He had more to lose than to gain: he already has high favorability ratings and is building a national network. My sense is that there was a deliberate calculation to play it safe, stick to the talking points, and avoid making waves. He can’t do that forever.

    Douglas: And I still have trust issues with the guy.

    I’ll say this for him — he doesn’t have a record of flipping positions for political advantage. You’ll find spin, and you can (inevitably) find some inconsistencies in his career, but generally you can tell where the man stands if you pay attention, and it’s generally consistent. Parse his words — he’s a politician — but if he says outright, for instance, that he’d veto a path to citizenship, I’ll take him at his word.

    • #13
    • August 11, 2015 at 7:47 pm
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  14. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    Here’s Walker’s other challenge: he’s not used to defending himself from attacks on the right. He’s used to explaining to Wisconsinites that his very conservative positions really aren’t that far out after all. This shows.

    Sometimes he simply gives a general election answer to a question begging for red meat, but it goes beyond that.

    Take social issues. Walker’s not a “culture warrior.” He talks about the economy. He wouldn’t subscribe to Mitch Daniel’s “truce” — but he considers Daniels a mentor and undoubtedly took the political point. He tread very carefully during his last campaign. If you read certain conservative sites, you’ll read articles seriously questioning Walker’s bona fides on these issues — more than Rubio or even Bush, I think.

    But they’re wrong. He’s unquestionably in the conservative wing of the party. He is as pro-life as it is possible to be, and has been since college. He opposed SSM. He even opposed the state’s domestic partner registry (as being unconstitutional under the SSM ban). If you waste time on liberal sites, you’ll find many consider Walker the most “extreme” of the serious Republican candidates. They may very well be right. Evidently some Wall Street donors agree.

    His rhetoric is mild; his policy is conservative. This works very well — in Wisconsin, where conservative voters know him. It could work well in a national election. But first, he has to win conservative trust.

    • #14
    • August 11, 2015 at 8:12 pm
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  15. Profile photo of Frozen Chosen Thatcher

    I like Walker and think he would be a good president but I don’t know if he’s got the charisma to be elected. You need some flash to appeal to the LIVs.

    • #15
    • August 11, 2015 at 9:27 pm
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  16. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator

    Manny:I like Scott Walker, but I found him to be a nothing in the debate. Sure he was boring. I can live with boring, but he struck me as completely inexperienced on the national stage. He reinforced his big negative. I’m sure he can recover, unless he really isn’t ready for the national stage, which is what I’m leaning toward.

    What did he say that suggested inexperience?

    He didn’t say a lot during the debate because the moderators didn’t call on him and, other than Paul, that was the only circumstance under which people spoke. He got about half the time of the Fox’ favorites.

    • #16
    • August 11, 2015 at 9:42 pm
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  17. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator

    Frozen Chosen:I like Walker and think he would be a good president but I don’t know if he’s got the charisma to be elected. You need some flash to appeal to the LIVs.

    This probably depends on the election. Flash is good at getting people excited. Normal is good at repelling negative campaigning. There’s every chance that Clinton’s campaign will hit its second billion, and most of that is going to go on negative campaigning. If that’s the sort of election we’re going to have, quiet, decent, hard working, and patriotic is what we want if we want to win.

    The LIVs can be won with flash if they see the flash. They can also be won by being insulted by the other side, though. Every time a Democrat says to the roughly 3/4 of Americans without a 4 year degree that people without 4 year degrees are worthless, an angel gets his wings.

    Bush didn’t win in 2004 on charisma so much as on the awfulness he inspired in his opponents, and Walker inspires more hatred and craziness than Bush did, and responds with even more obvious forgiveness.

    • #17
    • August 11, 2015 at 9:51 pm
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  18. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    Living in Wisconsin from 1997 to 2007 I’ve followed Walker since he was Milwaukee County chief executive, where he began to drive the Progressives insane. He’s done a great job turning Wisconsin around despite the propaganda against him. He’s the real deal. Down to Earth, practical, principled, and has an iron streak inside. He’s been through hell in his period as governor, up to and including death threats against him and his family and never flinched. He will demolish Hillary in the debate field, there is no dirt on him (believe me they’ve turned over EVERY rock looking). He is immune to Class War rhetoric and can turn it back on the enemy.

    • #18
    • August 12, 2015 at 12:01 am
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  19. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    Re Trump.

    I understand the anger thats fueling the Trump boom in the GOP. I get it.

    But the insanity of using him as the vehicle is making me ill. He’s about as conservative as Hillary. He’s too much of a RINO for our resident RINO squish to stomach. He’s a crony capitalist, pro abortion, gun control, single payer liberal. His campaign benefits two people besides himself. If by some cosmic joke he wins the nomination, or runs third party, say hello to president Hillary. (And if he runs that third party rout Secretary of Commerce Trump as a reward). If he drags out his exit long enough he will suck all the oxygen and money out of the room for REAL conservatives like Walker and Cruz, and benefit Jeb!, who has the money and backing of the establishment to wait it out and win based on being the last alternative. For the first time since Reagan it’s not “next man up”, and we have choices to get excited about and we get this hot mess….

    • #19
    • August 12, 2015 at 12:11 am
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  20. Profile photo of (((Cat III))) Member

    Walker has been my personal favorite of the prospective field. We need a leader willing to fight the vested interests in government. Salvaging the nation from fiscal doom will require cracking some skulls (metaphorically). A Walker candidacy could also bring attention to the thuggery of public sector unions.

    Hearing that he endorsed ethanol subsidies made me lose a lot of respect. In the grand scheme, it’s not that big an issue, but how can a conservative support such worthless corporate welfare? I want someone who will cut waste wherever it is, especially when doing so puts them in opposition with powerful donors.

    • #20
    • August 12, 2015 at 1:05 am
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  21. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    Cat, I think we’re going to be stuck swallowing some spin on that issue. If it’s not that issue, it will be someone else pandering on something else. Politics is messy.

    Walker says he wants to phase the subsidies out in two years (I think that’s the timetable). He opposed subsidies at the state level in Wisconsin, but says there’s a difference between introducing new subsidies and ending old ones. Basically, he opposes the subsidies but has found a way (for now) to tell the audience what they want to hear, more or less. I can live with that position and would call it more spin than an actual flip.

    • #21
    • August 12, 2015 at 3:53 am
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  22. Profile photo of Fricosis Guy Listener

    Only quibble with this piece is that Hoover wasn’t a steady hand. Herbert Hoover was in many ways a great man, but he was a progressive at heart.

    • #22
    • August 12, 2015 at 3:54 am
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  23. Profile photo of Manny Member

    billy

    Manny:I like Scott Walker, but I found him to be a nothing in the debate. Sure he was boring. I can live with boring, but he struck me as completely inexperienced on the national stage. He reinforced his big negative. I’m sure he can recover, unless he really isn’t ready for the national stage, which is what I’m leaning toward.

    I think (actually hoping) that this is strategery. He lays low during the first debate as the Trump-for-President reality show plays out while concentrating on retail politics in Iowa.

    Besides, he got so few questions, how could he have really stood out?

    Yes, it might have been his strategy. But he did drop in the polls.

    • #23
    • August 12, 2015 at 4:27 am
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  24. Profile photo of Manny Member

    James Of England

    Manny:I like Scott Walker, but I found him to be a nothing in the debate. Sure he was boring. I can live with boring, but he struck me as completely inexperienced on the national stage. He reinforced his big negative. I’m sure he can recover, unless he really isn’t ready for the national stage, which is what I’m leaning toward.

    What did he say that suggested inexperience?

    I don’t know if it was anything he said. He spoke with such a placid face that it seemed he was overwhelmed. I can’t recall any emotion or casual charm, which struck me as he was frightened. I’ve gotten that sense from other outlets where’s been interviewed. Apparently he’s very cautious. He seems to lack the retail politician personality.

    • #24
    • August 12, 2015 at 4:33 am
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  25. Profile photo of donald todd Inactive

    If you are going to win the general election, you must first win the primaries, sufficient primaries so that you win the nomination. So if you can get off the dime in Iowa, home to Archer Daniels Midland and ethanol subsidies, you are off to a good start.

    If there is a perfect candidate, I haven’t seen him. John F Kennedy had a lot, handsome, beautiful wife, rich, World War II hero, but only so-so as a president, and a real loss of esteem when his private life was exposed.

    So Walker, who is middle class, appears to love his wife and kids, and has done a very good job in a state where he was fortunate to be elected, then re-elected, then elected a third time, is my first choice. I am not keen on ethanol but there are bigger issues than ADM. I think this is the guy to deal with them.

    • #25
    • August 12, 2015 at 4:41 am
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  26. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    Cat III:Walker has been my personal favorite of the prospective field. We need a leader willing to fight the vested interests in government. Salvaging the nation from fiscal doom will require cracking some skulls (metaphorically). A Walker candidacy could also bring attention to the thuggery of public sector unions.

    Hearing that he endorsed ethanol subsidies made me lose a lot of respect. In the grand scheme, it’s not that big an issue, but how can a conservative support such worthless corporate welfare? I want someone who will cut waste wherever it is, especially when doing so puts them in opposition with powerful donors.

    Ronald Reagan even bowed to King Corn. Baby steps…

    • #26
    • August 12, 2015 at 5:39 am
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  27. Profile photo of Songwriter Member

    Frozen Chosen:I like Walker and think he would be a good president but I don’t know if he’s got the charisma to be elected. You need some flash to appeal to the LIVs.

    Hope you’re wrong. Afraid you’re right.

    • #27
    • August 12, 2015 at 5:53 am
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  28. Profile photo of Marion Evans Member

    Why did he tell us he has a Harley? Great for him but would someone say “I have a wife, two kids and a GE dishwasher”? Or is it a feeble attempt to appeal to middle America protectionism? I guess a Kawasaki would have made him unelectable.

    • #28
    • August 12, 2015 at 6:09 am
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  29. Profile photo of minksnopes Member

    The temptation to cave to the unions (especially the “Educators”) must be powerful. He took them on and won in a libby state. Rubio sounds great but if we elect him it will be to stop sounding great and start being tough as nails with the crooks that are destroying a great country. Walker is ready for this. The others are not.

    • #29
    • August 12, 2015 at 6:11 am
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  30. Profile photo of The Reticulator Member

    Kozak: He is immune to Class War rhetoric and can turn it back on the enemy.

    I like this. But do you have examples?

    • #30
    • August 12, 2015 at 6:21 am
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