Back on the job: Gov. Scott Walker tours Apache Stainless Equipment Corp. in Beaver Dam last Friday to help the company celebrate 40 years in business. Apache President, Ed Paradowski is at right.
The sharp knives are out for Rick Wiley, who managed Gov. Scott Walker’sshort-lived campaign for president.
In the 11 days since Walker folded his cards, conservative pundits have decided that Wiley was the problem. They’ve pointed out that Wiley’s candidate wasn’t prepared, that the campaign spent more money than it had coming in and that now Wiley, of all people, is trying to blame Walker.
What possible sense did it make to have more than 90 people on staff including highly paid consultants and a full-time photographer, they wonder.
They’re right: That’s on Wiley.
But it’s also on Scott Walker.
Walker hired Wiley and stuck with him.
Wiley told Politico that his team had “built the machine that we needed to get a governor in just phenomenal shape to take a stage in a presidential debate. I think sometimes it’s lost on people, the largeness of the job. I think people just look at it and say, ‘Wow! Yeah, you know, it’s like he’s a governor and he was in a recall’ and blah, blah, blah — he’s ready.”
Translation: It’s not my fault this guy wasn’t ready.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Wiley insisted that the campaign “didn’t have a spending problem. We had a revenue problem.”
Translation: Walker should have raised more money.
Wiley’s smarmy cover-his-you-know-what performance after the campaign is what I’ve come to expect from political mercenaries.
But Walker was the guy in charge. He was the guy who flip-flopped on ethanol subsidies and came to an interview with the BBC unprepared. He was the invisible man during the debates. He is the one who suggested he might favor ending birthright citizenship — only to change his mind. He is the one who seemed open to building a wall along the Canadian border. He is the one who compared his fight with peaceful union protesters in Wisconsin to the murderous thugs in the Islamic State.
Liz Mair, a digital strategist fired by Walker earlier this year, leapt onto Twitter even before the body was cold to provide her instant exegesis on the campaign. Mair lost her job after tweet-ranting about Iowa. (Basically, she insulted the one state Walker had pinned his hopes on. Shrewd).
But despite its self-serving undercurrent, Mair’s analysis still rang true:
Walker misunderstood the GOP base, she wrote. He pandered. He flip-flopped. He lost his identity as a leader. He didn’t educate himself fast enough on the issues. He hired people who “spent a lot to build out a massive operation that would not be sustainable unless financing remained amazing forever.” He treated Iowa “as locked down” and boasted of his ability to win elsewhere. He compared “lots of things” to the union fight in Wisconsin.
Walker’s implosion has to be deeply disappointing for the governor and his supporters. He sped to the top of the polls earlier this year only to end up an asterisk. And now he returns to a state that thinks a lot less of him. A Marquette University Law School Poll conducted Sept. 24-28, just after Walker left the race, found his approval rating among Wisconsin voters at a new low of 37%.
The post-mortems of Scott Walker’s presidential campaign will continue, but it’s not that hard to figure out what went wrong.
The real problem wasn’t Rick Wiley. The real problem was Scott Walker.