Walker Versus The Elite

The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson wrote an interesting litany on why three of the Republican candidates for President won’t make it, implicitly tying each to their own forms of elitism that will doom their chances. He suggests Huckabee, Paul, and Christie are bound to wash out of the race. To that I add: Scott Walker has avoided the foibles Ferguson points out.

Huckabee’s resume includes being a talk show host, preacher, and supreme moralizer, a combination with great potential for obnoxiousness. His book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, is a diatribe of holier-than-thouiness, Ferguson writes. He also sticks to this comfort zone far too much, avoiding talking to hostile interviewers.

Huckabee, for all his folksiness, occupies an Ivory Tower of his own, from which he rains down his righteous judgment and launches lightning bolts at sinners.

Rand Paul also occupies his own high place that Vogue once called the court of Libertarianism, where Paul is a sort of scion. He not only bungled the whole vaccination question, but he and his people are much more comfortable dealing with the results of such instances on the vapid medium of Twitter where he can launch retorts from behind a computer monitor. When placed in the real world, in which one is confronted with the desire to shush reporters who one is convinced have their heads up their rear ends, Paul did exactly that.

Running for president is full of tough realities, and no one has sympathy for a national candidate who can’t talk to a bubble-headed moron reporter without making it obvious they think she’s a bubble-headed moron. In politics and leadership in general, one indispensable quality is the ability to suffer fools.

Speaking of suffering fools, Ferguson says Chris Christie’s lovable “screw you” approach isn’t cute anymore. Instead, as demonstrated recently in London when he bitched at a reporter after he flubbed a vaccination comment, he seems more like a high-and-mighty jerk who flies from one soiree to another on the taxpayers’ dime verbally flipping the bird to the outside world as it nips at the wheels of his mahogany-lined private jet. Valid or not, fair or not, the Democrats are no doubt spoiling to portray the GOP nominee as having a Ric Flair-esque lifestyle consisting of limos, jets, parties, and expensive tastes that consume the average American’s annual salary in one trip to whatever high-end store in New York rich people shop at these days.

Ferguson’s analysis is spot on, and his look into the weaknesses of each of these three contenders as not being sufficiently grounded is a larger commentary on the essential qualities of a viable national candidate.

With regard to insufferable preachiness, Scott Walker exudes family values but skips the pedantism. Though he’s the son of a minister and a role model as a husband and father, he doesn’t go around passing moral judgment in a way that turns off the average American doing their best to navigate their family through our hedonistic modern society.

Walker has taken firm grasp of his public message, which is one that explicitly appeals to hard working taxpayers. So while he can take to Twitter with the fervor of Rand Paul and anyone in or pretending to be part of the millennial generation, he can also manage a real message and get that across to even the most critical reporters. He needs to work on his specificity – and that will come with time, learning, and practice – but what Walker has going for him that’s to his great advantage is that he always keeps a positive, polite attitude even in the harshest of interviews.

That steady-as-she-goes attitude is a presidential quality – imagine a hothead jerk in a meeting with intransigent world leaders, each of whom is king of their respective hill.  If you can’t handle a reporter, good luck handling Xi Jinping, who presides over the world’s largest economy.

When Martha Raddatz cut him off time after time six days ago on This Week, he stopped what he was saying and listened to her rudely interjected questions. He has the discipline to put a sock in it when he thinks a media hack is trying to shove him into a waiting coffin.

Walker has demonstrated the ability to suffer fools. Oh, so many fools, in his time as governor. There are no photos of Walker flipping someone off that haven’t been photoshopped, even when protesters were camping out on the front lawn of his family home in Wauwatosa and crapping in the bushes.

The governor doesn’t live a high-profile lifestyle; he likely didn’t personally earn more than $50,000 per year until he became Milwaukee County Executive. He’s certainly not a multimillionaire. And though he does attend the fundraising events requisite for a viable candidate who has no capacity to self-finance to any meaningful degree, he doesn’t have a taste for $600 haircuts, $10,000 bets, or mahogany in his aircraft – and he most likely doesn’t own a car elevator.

The field of 4,568 Republican candidates running for President will winnow rather quickly to a few experienced, disciplined contenders who know exactly what their message is and who can avoid looking down at people. Walker will almost certainly be one of them.

If Hillary is the Democrat nominee, then any attack by that party that their opponent is an elitist can be debunked simply by pointing out how much she charges for one gum-flapping session and when the last time was that she drove herself.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.