There are a number of questions I asked myself last night regarding Governor Scott Walker's reasons for forcing his Republican colleagues (comrades?) in the Wisconsin Senate to ram through a quite possibly illegal vote to remove the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin employees.
Perhaps he was scared that some of the "weaker" Republican States Senators were wavering in the face of polls that showed the majority of people in Wisconsin wanted state employees to retain their right to collectively bargain. In other words, the vote now may have been a panic move.
But that didn't fit with both the public and private persona that Walker has revealed over the course of this controversy. Yes, he was impatient perhaps, but panicked? I'm not sure. He didn't act like a panicked politician after the rallies in Madison began, or after the prank Koch phone call was revealed, or after the selective release of his emails was revealed as a deception.
No, Walker seemed to glory in the media attention this situation was and is bringing him. He seems to enjoy sticking his middle finger up in the air at Democrats, liberals, unions, teachers and the middle class on a nightly basis. He has reveled in the various portrayals, both good and bad, in which the news media painted him: (1) stubborn extremist asshole trying to single-handedly kill the middle class in America or (2)steadfast man of principle slaying the evil dragon of hate filled and (potentially) violent union creeps. Either way he was displayed to the national public, he liked it. You could see it on his face.
In addition, he has been literally sucking all the air (and by that I mean "broadcast air") away from all the other Republican figures (Gingrich, Palin, Bachmann, Huckabee, Boehner, etc., etc., etc.) who have been standing on the sidelines of the media landscape waving their hands and jumping up and down trying to get someone to notice them. But no one was. Walker has controlled the political narrative in this country over the last several months. He was forcing politicians on both sides to react to him. He made certain that every day the media spotlight remained fixed firmly on Wisconsin, and most especially on him personally.
Sure, he had help, especially at first. The union and public employee outrage that fueled the rallies around the Capital building in Madison, and the Democratic State Senators departure from Wisconsin no doubt exceeded his expectations. It became a much bigger story than he could have imagined. However, he grabbed the opportunity to keep the story going with both hands. Rather than back down as any half-way reasonable politician (and by reasonable I mean someone concerned about his self-preservation as a viable candidate for the next gubernatorial or Senate race in Wisconsin) would have done, he just dug in his heels harder.
It was all so damned confusing to my little liberal brain. Why? Republicans, now matter how extreme, do things for a reason. Rarely do they act out of pure principle, even the most ideological of them, despite what they tell their rabid supporters.
It was the one of Ed's guests (John Nichols of The Nation) on The Ed Show last night who spelled out the obvious for me. Scott Walker doesn't give a damn about governing Wisconsin. He doesn't give a damn if he is a one term Governor or faces a recall election next year. Why? Because he is running for a higher office: President of the United States.
He saw how Sarah Palin, an outright moron compared to himself, succeeded financially and politically within the Republican party after 2008. She made herself a bucket load of moolah and kept her name in the news despite quitting as governor of one of the smallest states (population wise) in the country. If an idiot like Palin could attract enough attention and support for a possible presidential run, what could a a "Real American Man" do using similar tactics?
Well, I think we know. Scott Walker has become a Tea Party rock star over the last few months. No matter what happens in Wisconsin he is now a "Name" with a Q Factor that practically insures that he will attract national attention from the news media (right, left or "centrist") and financial support from the extreme wing of the GOP, or as I like to call them, The Base (and yes, in part that's a reference to the meaning of the name "Al Queda").
He doesn't need Wisconsin anymore. Just as Sarah Palin's popularity among the most likely GOP primary voters (see "The Base" above) didn't take a hit when she quit as Alaska's governor halfway through her term (amid allegations of financial and legal improprieties), a recall electoral defeat of Walker next year also wouldn't hurt him in the least. If anything it would only enhance his stature among the paranoid Tea Party faithful. That is, if his real goal is to become a national figure and cash in (both literally and figuratively) on his Reaganesque "Strong Man" act in standing up to the "evil" Union "thugs" that the rest of us more commonly refer to as teachers, firefighters, etc.
Now some Republicans may (i.r., those in the State Senate) have been wavering, but Scotty Walker wasn't. The vote to strip away government employees' collective bargaining rights without public notice was not even a calculated risk as far as Walker was concerned.
No, that vote stripping away the bargaining rights of Wisconsin's public employees makes certain that the attention being lavished on Wisconsin and, more importantly, on Scott Walker, won't go away anytime soon. It's all free advertising for his next campaign, and I don't think that campaign will be for any office in the Great State of the Cheeseheads.
No, I am convinced that little Scotty Walker is running for the Republican nomination for President. Just wait. I bet we hear he has a book deal in the works any day now.
Scott Walker is a Tea Party Hero. And the longer he stretches out his fight with the unions, the better his chances of converting all the publicity he has received, and the popularity among die hard Republican primary voters, into both cash and a strong run at the Republican nomination for the Presidency.
In my opinion.