Burketron 2000: User Support Forum

The Cap Times e-board opines today,

Walker is not an original thinker; he’s an original recycler — of every bad idea that was ever put into circulation by a billionaire campaign donor or a special-interest group. That recycling has been the defining characteristic of his political career, and it has provided all the themes and sub-themes of his governorship.

Considering his track record, it is bizarre that Walker is griping about Democratic challenger Mary Burke’s economic plan. Specifically, the governor is attacking Burke based on reports that the Democrat released an economic plan that featured sections borrowed from Democratic gubernatorial candidates in other states.

Their evaluation is not completely incorrect: Gov. Walker has implemented a series of reforms that conservative leaders have insisted will work since well before the Goldwater revolution. What he hasn’t done is tout them as original, formulated while studying business at an Ivy League school.

That, again, is the problem with Mary Burke. I’m not so incredulous that a paid consultant re-used campaign boilerplate language. It’s sloppy, but not the end of the world. At issue here is the bogus narrative that Ms. Burke is a woman of the people who functions above the political fray with a message of unity and bi-partisanship to mend the partisan rifts that have widened over the last four years or so. She’s just not: everything about her candidacy is a political calculation, including the jobs plan she lied about writing based on her time in business school.

Collin Roth at Right Wisconsin offers a fairly enjoyable rundown of her foibles. (Today’s update: a story from Mother Jones that she keeps a notecard reminding her how a candidate should behave.) Every step of the way her campaign has folded in on itself.

Democrats’ tolerance of this phoniness mostly illustrates their seething hatred for the governor. Members of the party’s thinking class understand Burke will execute party mandates in office. The rest of the blubbering hoard just want to see Gov. Walker go. Either way, so far her biggest qualifications are not being a Republican and not being Scott Walker. There are questions she isn’t on the hook to answer from a political standpoint, but I’m curious about anyway.

1. Why is she running?

When she declared her candidacy, I wondered out loud if she really believed in her non-campaign campaign, or if she was beholden to greater powers in the Democrat Party. It’s obvious it’s the latter. Now I wonder why she’s running. She has failed to provide adequate context around the time she spent working in various capacities at Trek. Her family has been pretty mum, only stepping in reluctantly back in July when a Walker campaign ad connected Burke with Trek’s outsourcing practices. Perhaps she has something to prove to her family? Is she bored, already over her purchased spot on the Madison school board?

2. How is the campaign run?

I’m curious about the management of her campaign and the extent to which her handlers really have to script her appearances. That dreadful HBO dramatization of the 2009 book “Game Change” showed Sarah Palin’s handlers at constant odds with the candidate. I wonder why Maggie Brickerman and Joe Zepecki are part of this fight. Were they tapped by the same powers that are having Ms. Burke run? Or do they really believe in Mary Burke? And if they do, what do they see that I don’t?

It’s not just that I think her politics are stupid. That’s a conclusion I’ve managed after writing about her for nearly a year now. At first, I thought she had to hide conservative principles in order to succeed as a Democrat. Now I’m wondering whether she’s even bright enough to formulate a real political argument.

People like Kathleen Vinehout or Brett Hulsey have followers because they stand for things. And we’ve noted before that a Governor Vinehout wouldn’t be the worst option. Everything Burke stands for is contradictory.

Maybe someone will write a tell-all.

3. Is she willing to commit her administration to a degree of transparency to ebb the political influence of the Democrat Party of Wisconsin?

How much access will Mike Tate have to her office if she’s governor? It should be none if she’s an authentic non-political kinda moderate Democrat. I’m not begrudging the party head having influence with the politician; that’s the world we live in. The problem is that she’s pretending to be apolitical when she’s everything but.

If Democrats spent time thinking instead of just feeling, and if they stood for more than whatever Republicans don’t, someone like Ms. Burke wouldn’t stand a chance. But she does, and that’s the state of left-wing politics in Wisconsin.

About the writer: Nik Nelson is publisher of MorningMartini.com and Founder/CEO of OpenBox Strategies, where he connects political candidates and small businesses with excellent digital marketing tools and strategies.