I am a dyed in the wool Midwestern woman. As a proud Chicago, Illinois native and current resident, I have a guarded affection for my neighbors to the north in Wisconsin – not only because a sizeable portion of my family resides there. According to a study from the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, the Badger State boasts two of the top 40 most liberal cities in the nation, Milwaukee and Madison. It also has a historically balanced mix of Democratic and Republican governors, which demonstrates a spirited, bipartisan embrace of political discourse. And of course there’s lot of cheese.
Wisconsin is famous for many things, including the World’s Only Polka Escalator and the NFL’s Green Bay Packers franchise. However since January 3, 2011 the state that folk singer Dar Williams once referred to as the epicenter of “can-do, earthy-crunchy attitude,” has been most famous for its current Republican governor and 2016 presidential candidate, Scott Walker. It’s been a rough time for Wisconsin progressives – and those dreading a national Walker campaign – ever since. We’ve had four years to get well acquainted with his union-busting, anti-worker tactics, animosity toward a woman’s right to make her own family planning decisions, and affection for discriminatory voting laws.
But this week, Scott Walker, Colorado Springs, Colorado native come failed Marquette University graduate, would have us swallow his reinvention as a foreign policy expert. After all, he spent a whole two hours this past winter being tutored on international affairs by the leading experts of his party. After the meeting, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa of The Washington Post wrote:
In contrast to the compelling and confident way Walker talks about his Wisconsin record, he has been shaky on foreign policy. He has traveled only rarely overseas and showed little interest in world politics in college or as governor. Policy experts and donors who have met with him privately said he lacks depth of knowledge about the international scene and speaks mostly in generalities.
But in a 2016 Republican primary season almost unprecedented for its unmitigated gall (and really, after 2012, could we have conceived of a lower bar?), a complete and total lack of experience, intellectual curiosity or insight didn’t stop Scott Walker from weighing in on the historic, multilateral diplomatic agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program this week. I believe Salon.com writer Simon Maloy captured the results rather nicely in the piece, Scott Walker Makes a Clown of Himself: Foreign Policy-challenged Candidate Disastrously Flubs Iran. In response to Walker’s reckless campaign claim that he would as president, “pull back, I would terminate that bad deal with Iran completely on day one,” Maloy wrote:
Walker seems to think that the U.S. will have the standing and credibility to assemble a multilateral sanctions regime against Iran immediately after he unilaterally detonates the diplomatic framework that our allies have painstakingly worked on for so long.
And that’s just the first problem with the Wisconsin governor’s comments. As the website Real Clear Politics reported, Walker also labeled the compromise “one of the biggest disasters of the Obama-Clinton doctrine.” This is shameless politicking over a momentous, if nerve-wracking agreement that gives the United States a real shot at preventing nuclear war in the Middle East. What did we have before this week? Absolutely nothing. Walker should know this, as he knows it was Secretary of State John Kerry who brokered the tense negotiations, not 2016 presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. The latter may be in fact the only foreign policy detail of which the Republican candidate is aware.
If one of the demonstrations of fitness for the nation’s highest office is the ability to understand the issues and comment judiciously, Walker failed at both ends of the test this week. It’s not really a surprise, nor is Walker alone in ignorance. As our writers have reported continuously, all 15 Republican presidential candidates raced to the nearest microphone to voice criticism of the Iran plan without offering a credible alternative. But still, you’d think a man long touted as the “future” of the party would have something more to offer than stale, pandering stupidity.