What Was True In 2/2011 Marks Walker Now And Later

Monday, June 4, 2012

As John Doe probe defendant Tim Russell heads to a court hearing today, and Walker's  falsehood-laden PolitiFact ratings are on broad display (Dave Zweifel nails it), I thought I'd re-post an item I wrote in February, 2011 as a reminder that Walker's ethical deficits drove the state into the recall process, are at the root of his need for a legal defense fund, and are a signature trait dating to his murky political emergence at Marquette.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Among Scott Walker's Deficits: Moral Authority

Scott Walker's poll numbers are dropping as he accelerates his anti-union worker offensive - - starting with his out-of-the-blue abolition of a half-century of collective bargaining, to declining to accept the very economic concessions he'd also demanded, to threatening layoffs into the thousands if he doesn't get that final, suicidal agreement to permanently end nearly all public worker bargaining.

Public employees already conceded - - "Walker Wins! Walker Wins!" could already have been his headline suitable for framing and fund-raising -  to substantially reduced pay.

In effect, they swallowed hard and conceded against their will, but as realists, to be used as political cannon-fodder exactly the way Walker laid it out to the fake David Koch in that famously taped, prank call - - but still Walker wants everything - - without negotiations, without discussions or even adequate notice - - and here is the rub: after less than two months into his first term as Governor, having arrived there with 52% of the votes cast.

So why the peaceful but powerful uprising that followed Walker's pronouncements in Madison, across the state and throughout the country in solidarity with Wisconsin's public employees?

Why the still-growing crowd at the Capitol?

I think people feel Walker lacks the moral authority to so swiftly, so stealthily, and so profoundly change so many people's lives, careers and family stability.

If he were in his second or third term as Governor, if he had a reputation as a Wise Old Man, if he had a track record of crisis management or big thinking and successful problem-solving, if he had or could display sincerely a shred of compassion - - maybe he could justify what he is proposing and the way he went about it.

And only maybe.

But he does not have that background, and cannot conjure up its impression.

If Walker could communicate moral authority, the protest crowds would have been smaller and the counter-protesters who briefly showed up would have been present, in large numbers, because they had rushed to follow their leader into the struggle.

Walker sways no one.

He doesn't have the experience, language, influence and intuition required.

Yes, he has an all-consuming interest in political strategy and personal advancement, but those traits fail in solving this mess of his own creation because they enabled him to blunder his way in.

And they illuminated the path to the dark side he traveled in his talk with the fake David Koch (transcript here), where he displayed no real leadership while chit-chatting about planting provocateurs in the peaceful crowds and using the situation to push a far-right political and personal agenda.

I think when Walker is on TV, and certainly as he reveals himself on the prank call tape, he comes across as an arrogant whipper-snapper, intoxicated with his newly-gained position and power, but with no ability to consider a different course or display real empathy.

I think people when they see or hear Walker are saying some variation of "Who is this guy?"

The younger, harder-edged conservatives now running the GOP nationally and in Wisconsin have chased off the moderates, so there is no calm and deeper presence around Walker to fill in his internal deficits and pull him back from the brink.

There has been ample talk about de-coupling the economic concessions that Walker demanded and won from the bargaining rights' issue - - the politically-driven "bomb" that Walker said he dropped (again, see the tape transcript), and which now threatens to push everyone off the cliff.

Walker knows how to defuse the situation, but his ambition to be Reagan 2.0 by firing today's equivalent of the air traffic controllers, and to be Rush Limbaugh's new best friend, are probably too great a lure to such a one-dimensional, small-picture guy.

A leader with a stronger core would never have made this crazy proposal in the first place, then undercut himself so deeply in that narcissistic phone call, and stood by it so inflexibility as his powers of moral persuasion were exposed as nil.

That leader would have found a way out that was principally in the public interest, along with his own, too - - but first you'd have to have the willingness and awareness to have a pressing and genuine conversation with yourself before you could possibly hope to communicate effectively with people whom you have injured.

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