Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scott Walker: Blind Ambition and Little Intellect

All of the occupants of the GOP presidential candidate clown car are, in my view, dangerous to America and average Americans.  The question is, which one poses the gravest danger combined with a possible chance of winning the nomination.  Some of the conservative chattering class like Scott Walker, a man who holds workers in open contempt and has disdain for the minimum wage - any minimum wage - and wants to spread the economic desolation he has brought to many Wisconsin families nationwide.  The many is a study of cold ambition, little or no intellect, and a willingness to resort to demagoguery.   On important issues, he has no solutions or alternate proposals, including the new agreement with Iran which he wants cancelled.  In Walker's ignorance embracing world, war with Iran seemingly is his only acceptable option even though Iraq and Afghanistan are cake walks compared to what Iran would offer in a full fledged war (Iran's far more educated population is 78,192,200 versus Iraq's 36,004,552 - Afghanistan's is 31,822,848 - or more than twice that of countries the USA has been unable to subdue).  Facts, of course, do not matter to Walker and the GOP base.  A column in the New York Times looks at Walker and his frightening aspects.  Here are highlights:
[W]hat I see in him is the kind of soullessness too common in American politicians and the kind of careerism that makes American politics such a dreary spectacle.

I see an ambition even more pronounced than any ideology. I see an interest in personal advancement that eclipses any investment in personal growth.

These are hardly unusual traits in our halls of government. But they’re distilled in Walker, the governor of Wisconsin.
He’s styling himself as a political outsider, but that’s a fluke of geography, not professional history. While it’s true that he hasn’t worked in Washington, he’s a political lifer, with a résumé and worldview that are almost nothing but politics.

He has drawn barbs for the fact that he left Marquette before graduating and was many credits shy of a degree. But I know plenty of people whose intellectual agility and erudition aren’t rooted in the classroom, and his lack of a diploma isn’t what’s troubling.

The priorities that conspired in it are. He was apparently consumed during his sophomore year by a (failed) bid for student body president. According to a story by David Fahrenthold in The Washington Post, he was disengaged from, and cavalier about, the acquisition of knowledge.
When allies and opponents talk about his strengths, they seem to focus not on his passion for governing but on his cunning at getting elected. “He’s a sneaky-smart campaigner, they say, a polished and levelheaded tactician, a master at reading crowds,” . . .  “He learned the value of ignoring uncomfortable questions, rather than answering them.”

He tailors his persona to the race at hand. To win his second term as governor of Wisconsin and thus be able to crow, as he’s doing now, about the triumph of a conservative politician “in a blue state,” he played down his opposition to abortion, signaled resignation to same-sex marriage and explicitly supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But with his current focus on the Iowa caucuses, he no longer supports a path to citizenship, flaunts his anti-abortion credentials and has called for a constitutional amendment permitting states to outlaw same-sex marriage.
His advisers, meanwhile, trumpet his authenticity. Authenticity? That’s in tragically short supply in the presidential race, a quality that candidates assert less through coherent records, steadfast positions or self-effacing commitments than through what they wear (look, Ma, no jacket or necktie!)  . . .

“I love America,” Walker said in Monday’s big speech. That was his opening line and an echo of what so many contenders say.

I trust that they all do love this country. But from the way they pander, shift shapes and scheme, I wonder if they love themselves just a little more.

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