HUBRIS: in Rovian email, Scott Walker's tragic flaw becomes manifest | WisCommunity

HUBRIS: in Rovian email, Scott Walker's tragic flaw becomes manifest

The most legally damaging aspect of the John Doe document dump today involves the financial accounting of how numerous "independent," "not-for-profit," "non-political" 501(c)4 organizations in and outside Wisconsin quietly shift millions of dollars among themselves to create a big fat, anonymous, campaign war chest for Scott Walker in ways legally questionable.

But the most politically damaging revelation concerns an email Walker himself reportedly sent to national GOP campaign strategist Karl Rove in May 2011. In that email, according to prosecutors, Walker seems to brag about how a top campaign aide was leading the coordination effort with those supposedly independent campaign organizations -- the very sort of coordination that is illegal under Wisconsin state law. The email says, in part: "Bottom line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running nine recall elections and it will be like running nine congressional markets in every market in the state." Illegal, if true.

That email wasn't the first time we've seen or heard this side of Scott Walker. It is quite reminsicent of another incident involving Walker earlier the same year. You'll remember: An alternative website editor made a prank call to Walker in his official, state Capitol office. The prankster pretended to be David Koch, one of the two oil billionaire brothers who, as it later turned out, actually have been arms-length financial backers of the beseiged governor.

A recording of the prank call later went public and then viral. That was the conversation in which the totally gullible Walker bragged about his administration and said some very unseemly things -- as when he told "David Koch" that he considered “planting some troublemakers” among the protesters. Or that he was convinced everyone was on his side despite absolutely gigantic protests over his union-busting bill (Walker later told audiences of real supporters that God not only is on his side but advises him directly). Walker also told "Koch" he had a plan to trick state Senate Democrats into returning from their out-of-state hideaway by inviting them to a "talk," when his real plan was to lure them back to Madison so he could then use police to force them to attend a floor session in which Republican legislators would have a quorum to pass the union-busting law.

None of those statements were like anything Walker has said in public, nor do they match the carefully cultivated public persona of the man,  who still bends over backwards to sound reasonable, low-key and even moderate -- but only whenever voters or reporters might be listening.

Another, similar moment came around the same time as the prank call when Walker was caught on video telling a key supporter, billionaire businesswoman Dianne Hendricks, that he planned to deal with the state’s labor unions using, in his words, a “divide and conquer" strategy. That, Walker said, was a "first step," the implication being he would next go after private-sector unions. To this day he denies that -- in public. But go watch the resulting documentary film, "So Goes Janesville." You won't even need to read Walker's lips.

Add it all up and a nagging suspicion gains strength. There's the public Walker -- and then there's the private, and the real, Walker. The former is a cool, calm, on-message lawmaker who underplays the divisiveness of his policies, a soothsayer much more often than an attacker (no doubt a function of his poll numbers), a politician who constantly seeks to portray himself as strong and  untimidated and who has had nothing whatsoever to do with all the mayhem and corrupt activity that seem to infest those with whom he surrounds himself.

But the private Walker is a vindictive, take-no-survivors, politics is everything all the time, winning is the most important thing, kind of guy. A guy who is crass and opportunistic. A guy who is something of a little boy, emotionally, prone to gushing about himself and his achievements whenever someone important like "David Koch" is in earshot. In short, it isn't too much of a stretch to regard Scott Walker as Wisconsin's own version of Richard Nixon. And we know how things turned out for that passive-aggressive, combative Republican.

Thanks to the Doe document dump, we now have a greater body of unsettling evidence suggesting just what Walker is really all about -- which, to be specific, is himself. It's implicit in the reported email to Karl Rove. But in public, the cool-headed, if clueless Walker persona persists. Asked by reporters in Milwaukee whether he had sent an email to Rove regarding campaign coordination, Walker -- as increasingly is his custom -- didn't confirm or deny. He merely replied: "I can't imagine that."

Sadly, many of the rest of us could imagine it. But now that the Doe documents have described the Walker-to-Rove email, we don't have to imagine it; we need but read it. And it's damned sad reading.

Published

June 19, 2014 - 11:01pm

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