Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walker walks

Disappointed (but not surprised) by this development.

Scott Walker announced Monday he is dropping out of the GOP presidential race.

The Wisconsin governor entered the primary in July as a front-runner in Iowa and a darling of both the conservative base and powerful donors after winning battles against public unions in his left-leaning home state. But that promising start was quickly dashed after poor debate performances dried up support from donors.

"Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately," Walker said at a news conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

He encouraged other trailing Republican candidates to follow his path.

"I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner," said Walker, referencing businessman Donald Trump. "This is fundamentally important to the future of our party, and, more important, the future of the country."

It's hard for me to be impartial about this one since Walker was on my short list of preferred candidates. Having effectively beaten back labor unions with sweeping reforms as Wisconsin governor (along with winning 3 statewide election in 4 years in a "purple-ish" state), Walker had the bona fides of a terrific executive.

But despite a good start to his campaign, Walker could never seem to make a dent in what has become Trump-mania. In my opinion, I don't believe the Trump phenomenon happens if he were only one of, say, 6 or 7 candidates. But since there was at one point 17 GOP presidential candidates as recently as a few weeks ago, Walker seemed to be caught up in an era where TV ratings takes precedence over substantive policy debates. As such, CNN exploited the Trump circus by giving him multiple times more coverage than any others vying for the Republican nomination. Hence a ratings spike for CNN in last week's debate.

In the end, part of Walker's undoing was what, in my estimation, made him so appealing: the fact he's a genuinely likable, humble and downright average guy. I have a hard time believing that President of the United States was something he aspired to upon dropping out of Marquette University in 1990. But given his steady persona in the face of countless legal challenges to his budget reforms as governor of Wisconsin, he emerged as a respected leader. But what he seemed to lack is the ruthlessness of the likes of Trump, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, all of whom give the impression that the job of President is their birthright. Combine that with the sense that the electorate seemingly prefers being entertained as opposed to hearing ideas on how to stop the unsustainable U.S. national debt and attain a stronger foreign policy, you get the kind of carnival that took place at the Reagan Library last week.

It sure is an alternate universe when candidates Walker and Rick Perry (two governors with fantastic jobs records) bow out of the field before the likes of George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham and Mike Huckabee. A shame, really.


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