Thursday, July 16, 2015

The most dangerous clown of all

This week, the 15th so-called “major” candidate scrambled aboard the Republican Clown Bus, ready to join the party’s Hunger Games selection process. This one combines all the worst elements of all the other clowns candidates, and piles on whole new levels of true awfulness. He’s so awful, in fact, that it’s taken me many, many drafts of this post to tone down my rhetoric, something that hasn’t happened with any other Republican clown.

Scott Kevin Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, announced his candidacy on Twitter (image above) and in a moneybeg email informing us that his running for president is “God’s plan for me”. His god did not publicly comment on that claim.

In his speech later that day, Scott laid out his brand of radical conservatism, throwing in a dog-whistle to the new far-right talking point of again making it impossible for government to make the lives of everyday American workers better. Of course he did: That’s what his employers want.

Scott Walker is in office because the billionaire Koch brothers paid to get him elected, then paid to keep him from being recalled, and then paid again to have him re-elected. They’ve also pledged to spend a billion dollars to get a suitably far-right Republican elected president. Who better than their employee, Scott “Koch” Walker? And where the Kochs lead, the other oligarchs and plutocrats will follow.

Jeb (just don’t say) Bush has long been considered the odds-on favourite to win the nomination, but he’s struggling in polls of Republican voters. This hasn’t been helped by an inept start to his campaign, and his propensity for opening his mouth to remove one foot just so he can insert the other one. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been deliberately stoking racist fires to get attention, and it’s worked: Trump’s been surging in polls of Republicans.

All of this matters because the proposed debate structure for the clowns candidates is that they will be selected based on averaging national polling. So, doing well in the early states—which used to make or break some campaigns—is now irrelevant: Getting national attention is all that matters. Jeb (just don’t say) Bush has name recognition (which is why we’re supposed to call him only “Jeb!”), and Trump has the patent on outrageous statements, so the rest, including newbie Scott “Koch” Walker, need to differentiate themselves.

So, Walker has ramped up his god and religion shtick in a blatant attempt to capture the far-right fundamentalist Christian vote, which makes up the strongest and most reliable part of the Republican base, the part that always turns out in party primary elections and caucuses. But all the Republican clowns candidates are opposed to marriage equality (and most want to enshrine in law the right to discriminate against LGBT people), and all but George Pataki oppose reproductive choice. So, how can Walker break through?

First and foremost, by doubling-down on the far-right’s “Christian” agenda. In that moneybeg, he bragged about signing into law new restrictions on access to abortion in Wisconsin, and he now declares he’ll somehow do the same if he becomes president. He’s actually long been opposed to reproductive choice, which has led him to all sorts of bizarre statements. He once said that doctors should lie to pregnant women to prevent abortions, and he famously declared that mandatory ultrasounds, such as the one in his anti-abortion bill, are "just a cool thing" for women.

Walker called the US Supreme Court’s decision establishing 50-state marriage equality a “grave mistake”, and immediately called for a constitutional amendment to overturn it. While talk of an amendment is merely pandering to the far-right, since it can’t happen, he’s also promised to nominate extreme rightwing Supreme Court justices, something that will be easy to do—and mandatory—if Republicans get a president elected and still control the US Senate.

Walker has talked proudly of his vote to enshrine marriage discrimination in the Wisconsin constitution, but his anti-LGBT animus is most obvious when, as governor, he tried to stop defending the state’s domestic partnership law that gave gay couples a handful of the rights and privileges of marriage, from which they were barred. The rights, few though they were, included hospital visitation, among other things, and were important to couples—but Walker thought they mustn’t be allowed. Wisconsin’s courts consistently disagreed with him, and federal rules mandate hospital visitation rights for LGBT people. But Walker’s enthusiasm for trying to ensure that same-gender couples had NO rights whatsoever show the depth of his anti-LGBT animus.

And he’s now also condemned the Boy Scouts of America for ending discrimination against gay adults because the discrimination “protected children”, he said. The anti-gay animus in that is so blatant there’s just no sugar-coating it, but ThinkProgress explained why Walker’s statement is so deeply offensive.

On just those two “social issues” alone, it’s obvious that Walker isn’t faking his far-right fundamentalist Christianity: He really is a religious extremist, and is not just playing one on TV.

Forcing his religious beliefs onto everyone else isn’t all Scott “Koch” Walker is about, of course: He’s also a radical conservative on economic issues, which makes sense, since he’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers, whose far-right agenda he’s gleefully promoted. From crushing unions (which he wants to do to the entire country), to gutting public education spending and so much more, Scott has proven himself a loyal employee of the Kochs. All of which is why, to everyday people, Walker’s been an utter disaster for Wisconsin (See also: “Scott Walker Wants To Run The Country. Here Is How He Ran Wisconsin.” from ThinkProgress).

The only area in which Walker disagrees with his masters is that Walker believes in “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” for even non-violent offenders convicted of minor crimes. His self-styled libertarian payroll masters, the Kochs, support sentencing reform. Pundits think Walker can’t adopt the Kochs’ position without being called a “flip-flopper”. Clearly, such pundits haven’t been paying attention: The Kochs can run ads everywhere praising their employee for what they’ll probably call his “courage” and maybe “maturity” in doing as they ordered him to do “evolving” on the issue. The Koch political machine has mastered manipulation of political messaging, so once they get into it, Scott’s abrupt shift will look like an angelic virtue, utterly beyond criticism.

On the other hand, if Walker sticks to his weird far-right views on criminal “justice”, the Kochs can spin that as being “proof” that Scott is “independent” of his paymasters. The point is, no matter what he does, Koch money will spin it and spin it and spin it until no one has any idea what the truth is any more—it’s what they do.

All of which assumes that the Kochs can buy the Republican nomination for their minion, and there they run into their biggest problem: Scott. He has so little charisma that they’ll have to bring industrial heaters to his rallies to keep the lack of warmth from freezing his audience, even in July and August. I kid, I kid—but not by much. Of course, the reality is that the Kochs' billions can fix even that, too, through ever more distraction and diversion.

But we just can’t get away from the other big metaphorical elephant in the rhetorical room (aside from his fealty to the Kochs): Walker’s theocratic bent and his determination to impose his particular brand of a subset of Christianity on the entire USA. In his moneybeg, he declared, “Our U.S. Constitution calls for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion,” and he couldn’t possibly be more wrong about that: Obviously freedom OF religion means absolutely nothing without freedom FROM religion—otherwise, all we have is a theocracy in which religion—specifically, Scott’s particular flavour of it—is mandatory. That should trouble all people, whether religious or not.

Scott “Koch” Walker is a dangerous man. He’s successfully rebranded his theocratic and plutocratic extremism as mere “conservatism”, though it’s nothing of the kind: It's merely extremism that co-opts the word conservative as a kinder, gentler marketing tool. To Scott, destroying the middle class to give more money to the oligarchs and plutocrats and forcing his personal religious views onto everyone else is mere “conservatism”. I know plenty of real conservatives who would strongly disagree with him on that.

Scott “Koch” Walker is the worst of the clowns candidates who might actually win the Republican nomination. If elected, he would be all the bad parts of all the worst of the other clowns candidates rolled into one, with a scoop of extra awfulness on top. None of the other creepy Republicans—Huckabee and Santorum in particular—could ever win the nomination. Most of the other completely awful clowns candidates don’t stand a chance, either. So, his real competition are the clowns candidates who are merely mostly awful.

But with billions and billions behind him, Scott “Koch” Walker has the chance to win the Republican nomination, and then the White House, and that’s something that should be enough to scare the shit out of anyone—including Republicans. I cannot stand the man and cannot say a single nice thing about him—obviously. And this is after I toned down what I was going to say!

So, given his truly awful record as governor, his far, FAR right extremist agenda, paid for by the billionaire Koch Brothers, and his determination to impose his religion on everyone in the USA, Scott “Koch” Walker, isn’t just another clown on the bus, he’s the most dangerous clown of all.

The basics: Scott “Koch” Walker is 47, replacing Chris Christie as the second-youngest Republican clown candidate so far (after Bobby Jindal, who is the youngest). On Inauguration Day, he’ll be 49 years, 80 days old. The oldest US President, Ronald Reagan, hallowed be his name, was 69 years, 349 days when he was sworn in.

As of today, there’s still 1 year, 3 months, 24 days until the US presidential election.


rogerogreen said...

I keep going back and forth as to whether Trump (who will say ANYTHING for attention) or Walker is worse. I think I've come down on the side of Walker who was such a schmuck to the public employees in Wisconsin. In other word, he has the greater proven record of being an asshole.
I think the argument that the governors collectively are making is true. Most of the members of Congress are just spewing rhetoric, though Cruz essentially shut down the federal government.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yep, for me, Walker's the bottom of the barrel of those who could ctually win the Republican nomination.