Now that Scott Walker has let the cat out of the cellophane bag and admitted that he is running for president, he is getting more scrutiny from the national press. This scrutiny has brought some embarrassment to the media in Wisconsin for not breaking the stories that they should have.
To make up for lost time, they have stopped providing cover - or at least as much cover - for Walker that they used to.
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Craig Gilbert blows up Walker's myth about how he is electable because he won three times in Milwaukee County, a somewhat liberal bastion in a sea of red. Besides the fact that the position of Milwaukee County Executive is nonpartisan, Gilbert points out that as governor, Walker has done very poorly in Milwaukee County:
In his three statewide victories for governor, Walker’s share of the Milwaukee County vote was 38% (2010), 36% (the 2012 recall) and 36% (2014). It was no surprise that Walker lost his home county in these races, given its distinct Democratic lean. But some insiders in both parties expected him to perform better than Republicans typically do in Milwaukee because of his victories for county executive.
Instead, Walker performed worse in the county than his GOP predecessors. His losing margin of 27 points in 2012 and 2014 was the worst for a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Milwaukee County since 1982. It was worse than Republican Mark Green did in 2006 and Republican Scott McCallum did in 2002, both of whom their lost statewide races. And it was dramatically worse than Republican Tommy Thompson did in his four races for governor. Thompson actually won Milwaukee County in 1990, 1994 and 1998.
At the Wisconsin State Journal, Matthew DeFour has a laundry list of things that Walker has said on the campaign trail that doesn't even come close to reality. A couple of these flights of fancy include:
Walker: “We need a leader who’s not going to pit one group of Americans against another.” — July 17 town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The facts: Before taking office Walker referred to public employees as the “haves” and everyone else as the “have-nots.” In January 2011, he told a billionaire campaign donor who wanted the state to pass right-to-work legislation that he would soon be introducing legislation as part of a “divide-and-conquer” strategy toward labor. The legislation, known as Act 10, virtually ended public sector collective bargaining, sparked massive protests in Madison and triggered a recall election that Walker ultimately won.
Walker: “Where would you rather spend this dollar? In Washington or at your kids’ and grandkids’ school? I think most of us would rather spend it in our school where you don’t have all that money skimmed off the top with all the bureaucracy in Washington.” — July 17 town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The facts: The vast majority of the money the U.S. Department of Education spends goes back into local classrooms or to help pay college tuition. With fewer than 4,000 employees, the department is the smallest federal agency. Administrative costs are about $2 billion, a fraction of the roughly $175 billion returned to the states in direct grants for special education and low-income students, Pell grants and other college loan programs, and other education programs.
Walker: “I’m not blocking it. I’m governor; I don’t have anything to do with the federal government.” — July 19 conversation with a Wisconsin family in Plainfield, Iowa, about a federal lawsuit that has blocked President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding immigrant families from deportation.
The facts: A day earlier at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Walker touted his support for the lawsuit, in which Wisconsin has joined 24 states to block the order. “Last fall I was one of the first governors to join the federal lawsuit saying the president has overstepped his constitutional bounds,” Walker said.
Even though the state media is finally starting to step up their game, they are not perfect. For example, DeFour misses the fact that Walker's current budget is facing a $2.2 billion deficit and that Republican lawmakers had to put in a clause that the budget doesn't really have to be balanced.
Another thing the media has missed so far is how Walker was making a big deal out of not campaigning in North Carolina and New Hampshire this weekend in order to attend the funeral of one of the marines killed in Chattanooga.
Even as Walker made sure everyone knew he wasn't going to be on the campaign trail, it did not mean that he would have the decency to stop campaigning. As my brother-in-blog, Jeff Simpson points out, he's been tweeting up a storm, making sure everyone knew that he was attending the service and that they still had a chance to get a free bumper sticker if they bought his book.
I suppose now would be the time to say something like, "Would the real Scott Walker please stand up?" but being two-faced and hypocritical is the real Scott Walker.