There has been a lot of attention paid to the Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin article in The New York Times, Scott Walker’s Hard Right Turn in Iowa May Hurt Him Elsewhere. It’s about how a “growing number of party leaders” are unhappy with Scott Walker highlighting his extreme social conservative views. When I first saw it, I smelled a rat. But it would seem that most commentators are buying it. At No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M wrote, Scott Walker Finds a Horse’s Head in His Bed. And Jonathan Chait wrote, Obama Picks a Labor Fight With Scott Walker.
Who Scott Walker is has never been a mystery — most especially for “party leaders.” Walker’s political problem — in both the primary and the general election — is that he looks very much like the candidate bought and paid for by the oligarchs. Remember back in April when David Koch said that he and his brothers supported Walker? This was immediately walked back, but no one doubts that Walker is the Kochs’ boy. And this is not just a problem among liberals. Remember: the Republican base goes along with the economic policy, but its focus is on social policy — most especially hating fags, spics, and welfare queens. Although easily manipulated by the power elite, the Republican base doesn’t like to see itself as the plaything of the rich.
So I see the Haberman and Martin article as part of an establishment campaign for Scott Walker, not a warning to him. This is a way for them help what looks day by day to be a flagging campaign. Walker has seen his polling drop from roughly 22% in April to less than 18% today. And given that Wisconsin boarders Iowa, it is expected that Walker will win big in the state. If he doesn’t, it means real problems for his campaign. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz — the man who Walker is supposedly chasing — has 6% in Iowa now — the same he had back in February. In addition, Mike Huckabee has seen his support go way down.
What this all means is that Walker is not catching on. Slipping support for other candidates — most especially social conservatives — are not benefiting Walker. Since Walker being very clear that he too hates immigrants and loves Jesus isn’t doing the trick, the power elite have stepped up their faux attacks, “He’s too much of a social conservative! This won’t play in a general election!” I’m sure they are just sad that Walker doesn’t star on a television show so that they could fire him to make him seem all the more authentic.
One of my biggest complaints about the Republican base is not that it is vile, because to a large extent it really isn’t. My complaint — similar to Thomas Frank’s — is that it is easily manipulated. No one understands this better than the Republican establishment. They understand what it takes to win elections. And they know that once in office, Walker will do just what they want him to — cut their taxes, savage the social safety net, destroy regulations. As much as Scott Walker’s hateful personality is a problem in a general election (and it really isn’t all that much), they know it can be whitewashed with a nice narrative about his being the son of a Baptist minister.
Maybe Haberman and Martin and Steve M and Jonathan Chait are right about the donor class freaking out about Walker. But I think this is naive. It seems much more likely that the oligarchs are trying to create a narrative about him being independent of themselves. And that’s exactly the kind of message the oligarchs would want to push about a politician who is absolutely a servant of the oligarchs.